Sometimes you need a family trip that’s as easy as boxed cake. And as a parent of two kids, ages 10 and 3, that’s me most of the time. If just the thought of packing for a vacation leaves me overwhelmed — darn the diapers, wipes, floaties, pillows for picky sleepers and so on — I know it’s time for a break that requires very little from me once I arrive.
One of my favorite vacation spots for that simple getaway is Terranea Resort. At a mere 30 miles south of Los Angeles, the Palos Verdes property’s gorgeous setting and stellar service mean that my crew can quickly shed the responsibilities of home. We slow down our usual frantic pace and breathe deeply. Our muscles let go of tension as we watch the sea and listen to its waves. We find simple pleasure in spotting bunnies in the brush.
Here’s how we spent a recent weekend at Terranea.
Cliffside lodging at Terranea Resort
I have had the fine fortune to visit Terranea multiple times in the last decade, so I can attest that all rooms are good rooms. For our anniversary one year, my husband and I stayed in an Ocean View Guestroom near the pool, and we packed a portable toddler bed for our daughter, who was 4 at the time. I remember slipping on sandals, walking one minute to the pool deck, then playing there for hours in the sun — all with views of the Pacific.
On yet another celebratory weekend, we visited sans children for a friend’s 40th birthday. He had booked rooms in a casita, so we roamed from full kitchen to private patio with wine and cheese in hand. From here, it was more of a walk to resort amenities, but I love that about the casitas — you’ve got a bit more privacy, and your walk to onsite restaurants and pools is likely on a cliffside trail, where palms sway and bunnies skit about in the low coastal brush.
On our recent visit, the four of us spread out luxuriously in adjoining casita rooms. We snacked on a charcuterie board upon arrival, then the girls dashed out of the patio sliders and ran down the hilly lawn behind the casita, the sun setting in the distance. The fresh sea air lured us further out before it was time for our Terranea supper.
Dining at Terranea Resort
My favorite place to eat at Terranea will always be Nelson’s. The cliff-top restaurant’s excellent food — think lobster rolls and swordfish tacos — is served with unbeatable views, and it’s a comfortable place to dine if you have wiggly littles. On this last visit, my youngest daughter and I wandered adjacent dirt trails and warmed up by blazing fire pits while we waited for our meal, and that allowed my oldest and her dad to have an uninterrupted conversation over a giant Bavarian pretzel. Simply by being outside, I feel less stressed as a parent. The kids have space to roam, and their (rather loud) sing-songy voices get lost in the sounds of the sea. Meanwhile, I can sip a cocktail and know I’ll have zero dishes to do later.
Other dining options onsite are plentiful. We tend to visit the coffee shop-style eatery, Sea Beans, for grab-and-go sandwiches and smoothies to eat at the beach, pool or patio. The weekend waffle bar here was a hit this time around, too. Catalina Kitchen’s Sunday Brunch is a wildly impressive spread, so arrive hungry for anything from fresh-made omelets to crab legs and prime rib. And the new, reservation-required “social grilling” experience at Bashi is a fun option, too. Sushi and cut rolls came before platters of pork belly and short rib, which we cooked up ourselves at our outdoor table equipped with an inset grill.
Note that even resort guests not staying on property are welcome at each of the restaurants, so if you’re making a day trip out of Palos Verdes, consider booking a reservation at any of the above restaurants. Resort parking is complimentary for visiting diners.
What to do with kids at Terranea Resort
If you are at Terranea in the warmer months, you will surely spend most of your daylight hours on the resort pool deck, where a splash pad, water slide, two hot tubs and a giant pool offer endless entertainment. It was a chilly 55 degrees when we visited in February, but we still spent time here, bouncing in and out of hot tubs and even into the heated pool. Giant lawn games were also a hit, from foosball and oversized Connect Four to a football-catching net set up.
A short downhill walk brings you to Beach Cove, a sweet little stretch of sand where water activities like paddleboarding and kayaking might begin. We bundled up and went pelican watching here, but in summer so much more might happen. On my next visit, I fully intend to book the resort’s guided tidepool walk. Back up the hill, we loved attending the falconry meet-and-greet, one of Terranea’s complimentary offerings. To see a Eurasian eagle-owl and its brilliant orange eyes up close delighted this bird nerd an unquantifiable amount.
Though we didn’t use the Kids Club this time, it’s a resort convenience to research, especially around various holidays, when celebratory programming is planned. For example, near Valentine’s Day the club offered related crafts and activities, and next month there will be an Earth Day scavenger hunt and Easter egg hunt (for resort guests only). If you can swing it, let the kids have fun in the club while you enjoy a treatment of your choice at the stunning onsite spa. It’s considered one of the best spa facilities in the world.
A deal for L.A. Parent readers
To entice you to the resort, Terranea has kindly offered L.A. Parent readers a promotion affiliated with its “Warmer Stays, Longer Days” seasonal deal. Book two consecutive nights at the resort, and you will receive your third night for free. Enter code LAPARENT at checkout to access. Note that the offer is based on availability and can be used on select guestrooms and lobby suites only. The offer is valid for booking dates through May 22, 2023, and for stay dates through May 25, 2023. Nightly rates start at $399.