Sunset Boulevard, which runs a 20-mile-some-odd stretch of Los Angeles from Downtown, ends at PCH. Driving this almost insanely long road takes you through Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Brentwood (made infamous by OJ Simpson) and the Pacific Palisades, before at last depositing you in the midst of Malibu.
5 miles west of the junction of Sunset Blvd. and the 405 freeway, you’ll find the Pacific Palisades driveway for Will Rogers State Park. Parking is $7 per car, and affords you entrance to the land formerly owned by Will Rogers, the 1930s Western actor, writer, humorist, and humanitarian who was at one time arguably the most recognizable man in Los Angeles. Here you can take a relatively easy 3-mile loop of a hike, or challenge yourselves by trekking the Backbone Trail across almost the entirety of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Free-to-the-public polo matches here played each weekend between April and October; Saturday matches are from 2-5pm, Sunday matches are 10am-1pm. Bring a blanket and picnic and enjoy the museum in Rogers’ former home.
Further up Sunset, past glorious mansions owned by the likes of art collectors and movie studio executives, you pass through the commercial village of Pacific Palisades. There are few good restaurants (try Taste) and shops here, certainly worth a relaxing stroll to and check out the neighborhood together.
¼ mile past the village on the right hand side of Sunset, you’ll find Temescal Canyon Road and its canyon hike. Parking is free and there are bathrooms and picnic tables, but no dogs are allowed. This is a great hike for some sun with a nice breeze, great city and ocean views, and people-watching.
Two miles farther on Sunset and ¼ mile before you hit PCH, on the left-hand side, is the meditation pond/garden of the Lake Shrine Temple of the Self-Realization Fellowship. It’s generally open to the public on weekends. Park in the free lot (or if it’s closed, on Sunset itself) and treat yourselves to this man-made tribute to floral quiet and reflection.
At the long-awaited meeting of PCH and Sunset you’ll find Gladstone’s, a seafood restaurant right on the beach that, it seems, almost every Angeleno has been to once. Pelicans surf the waves here, and the inevitable leftovers (portions are huge) are wrapped in tinfoil, fashioned into the shape of either a swan or a whale. Fancy.