There are thousands of cruises from California every year, and the Port of Los Angeles is the busiest port in the state (and indeed in the country), so it is one of the more likely ports you’ll pass through if you take cruise vacations. However, Los Angeles is obviously a city known for much more than its port, and there are many things to see and do in the city before or after your cruise. In fact, there is so much to do and see in Los Angeles that it is worth budgeting an extra day or so into your cruise vacation to take in the city. If you are able to do this, or even if you just have a few hours to kill, consider this guide of things to see and do before leaving on a cruise from Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is the second largest city in the U.S. and is a world-famous metropolis; thus, it is obviously absurd to attempt to exhaustively detail all you can do in Los Angeles. And since there are so many things to do, any list of “things to see and do” will inevitably be arbitrary to some extent. Why list a trip to Universal Studios and not a trip to Disneyland, or vice versa, or why list either at all? These are the types of questions that will inevitably come up. (For the record, we think Universal Studies and Disneyland are both places you should consider going if you have the time. They are great places to take your children, and most movie enthusiasts can appreciate a trip to either, especially Universal Studios.) Another way of putting this point is this: if you have any spare time in the city, you’re going to find something to do. (We made this same point in connection cities like Boston and Philadelphia.) If you are bored with a free day in Los Angeles, you are bored with life, as Dr. Johnson once said (more or less) of London. However, in an article about the things to see and do in Los Angeles, we can’t just say “anything” and leave it at that. So, we’ll now turn our attention to concrete suggestions.
One major thing to keep in mind about the Port of Los Angeles is that it is not actually in the heart of Los Angeles. Rather, it is located in San Pedro (or, technically, San Pedro Bay), which is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from downtown. It is therefore fairly far removed from the general touristy areas of the city, and you’ll need at least several hours (and probably an entire day) to venture into the city and see the sights (the Getty Center, the famous Los Angeles Philharmonic building, the Staples Center, etc.). The same applies to trips to amusement parks or specific regions of the city (e.g., Hollywood or Beverly Hills). If you have the time, great – pick the part of the city that attracts you most and visit it. However, if you only have a few hours to kill before your cruise, you’ll be more confined.
As far as tourist sights in the port area go, the main one is probably the Battleship USS Iowa, which is essentially part of the port. How close you are to it will depend on what cruise line you are sailing with, but you should be able to check it out if you have a couple hours to spare. People travel to San Pedro specifically to see this military ship, so it’s quite convenient that such a notable sight is right by the port. There are some other military-related sights in the area as well, like the Fort MacArthur Museum, an army post that from 1914 to 1974 guarded L.A. Other sights in the area include the Point Fermin Lighthouse (with a museum) and the Korean Friendship Bell, which are right beside each other and are only a mile or so from the port. Finally, there are some beaches in the area (e.g., Cabrillo Beach), and in general the shoreline of San Pedro, much of which is composed of steep cliffs, is picturesque. So, there are some specific sights to see in the area, or you can simply walk around the area surrounding the port to enjoy the shoreline and its views.
Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Los Angeles before leaving on your cruise. This is especially true if you have a day or more at your disposal, which will enable you to check out essentially any part of the city, but there are also things to do in San Pedro if you have a few hours to kill before your cruise.