A Palette of Greens and Blues
"Verde" is Spanish for green, and the Palos Verdes Peninsula is verdant while also offering stunning views of the ever-changing blues of the Pacific Ocean. The peninsula boasts eight developed parks and other parks—ranging from 4.5 acres to 140 acres—and three golf courses. Located 23 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, the 26.3-square-mile area is home to four incorporated cities: Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, and Rancho Palos Verdes.
The peninsula is an especially popular residence for equestrians—there are more than 60 miles of horse trails—and for families because of the excellence of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District. Students perform at the 97th to 99th percentiles in state and national testing; more than 90 percent of graduates go on to college; and the district leads the state with the highest number of National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists and is second highest among all of the public schools in the U.S. Another factor that draws some residents is that the peninsula has no major industries.
Palos Verdes Estates
Incorporated in 1939, Palos Verdes Estates is the oldest city on the peninsula. The city was laid out and landscaped by the famous Olmsted Brothers, the sons of Frederick L. Olmsted, Sr., the designer of New York City's Central Park. The 13,700 residents of the city enjoy 849 acres dedicated as permanent parkland, gently winding roadways, green hillside paths, plus an abundance of eucalyptus, pepper, and coral trees. Palos Verdes Estates has two commercial areas, an elementary school, middle school, high school, and library. Horses can be boarded at the Palos Verdes Stable. The public buildings, and many homes, are Mediterranean style, with the distinctive red roofs.
The city's most notable landmark is the Neptune Fountain. Located in Malaga Cove Plaza, it is a two-thirds-scale replica of a bronze statue and fountain erected in Bologna, Italy, in 1563. It was donated to Palos Verdes Estates in 1930 by the Palos Verdes Project and serves as the city's logo. It is believed to have been obtained from a villa courtyard outside Venice and it is thought to have been more than 100 years old before it was brought to the city.
A private gated community with 2,000 residents, Rolling Hills is situated on 1,889 acres in the center of the peninsula. A wooded area with deep, tree-lined canyons and hilly terrain, Rolling Hills is an equestrian's paradise with private roadways and 23 miles of trails. There are 890 homesites. Most homes are rambling ranch-style, and the minimum lot size is one acre. The city was incorporated in 1957.
Rolling Hills Estates
Also incorporated in 1957, Rolling Hills Estates is comprised of 4.18 square miles of hilly terrain on the northern side of the peninsula. This is another city for horse lovers, with an equestrian center and more than 25 miles of trails. The 8,000 residents enjoy numerous annual community events, such as "The Hills Are Alive" 10K/5K walk/run. The community also boasts the mile-long Peninsula Center shopping area.
Rancho Palos Verdes
This city, incorporated in 1973, is the largest of the four peninsula cities, with a population of 41,145, 13.6 square miles of land, and 7.5 miles of coastline. A large portion of the city consists of steeply sloping hillsides and deep canyons, and many residents have the peninsula's best ocean views. Once famous for its Marineland of the Pacific theme park (a kind of forerunner to Sea World), the city recently approved a 450-room resort for the site. There are three active landslides within the city, and there is a moratorium limiting construction and redevelopment in these areas.
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park features two beaches—Abalone Cove and Sacred Cove—plus tide pools, bluff-top viewing areas, spectacular ocean and Catalina views, and crisscrossing trails.
Rancho Palos Verdes is also the home of the Wayfarers Chapel. Designed by Lloyd Wright in the late 1940s and built between 1949 and 1951, the Wayfarers Chapel is a church in Rancho Palos Verdes that is noted for its unique modern architecture and its location next to the Pacific Ocean. Like many of Wright's creations, the chapel features geometric designs and incorporates the natural landscape into the design. It is a functioning Swedenborgian Church and is a memorial to its founder, Emanuel Swedenborg. Over the decades, additions were built, including a tower and a visitor center.