Exploring the Sunken City of San Pedro

Sunken City of San PedroExploring the ruins of San Pedro’s Sunken City has been on my to do list for a while. I was a bit nervous about doing it on my own with my son, so I had to find a time when the whole family could go. Today was the day!

Exploring Sunken City of San PedroIn 1929, this area of San Pedro began sliding into the ocean below. All that’s left now are ruins of roads and broken pipes covered in beautiful graffiti art. Artists (and visitors of all shapes and sizes) have been illegally entering this no man’s land for years.

The entire area is cordoned off by a tall metal fence with no trespassing signs spread all over. As you look through the metal fence you see families and adults out for a stroll, taggers and a whole host of people cruising around inside. How do they get there, you ask?

Sunken City of San Pedro

By jumping a concrete barrier, climbing down a hole (or carefully sliding down a little path on the hillside) and sliding under the metal fence! Sounds dangerous I know. And honestly I was nervous about it until we saw tons of people do it within minutes of us arriving. I figured if all these people, young and old can do it, so can we!

Sunken City, San Pedro

The fence you climb under. The cliff you do not fall down.

It was a bit nerve wracking. But upon reaching the other side of the fence, we were filled with relief and awe. We made it! Now off to explore.

Sunken City, San PedroThere are lots of well worn paths criss-crossing around the area to explore. You choose your own way. The teenagers ahead of us chose to run down the long steep path while we opted for the longer gentler way down. The paths can be slippery, so choose what works best for your fitness and comfort levels.

“Is this a litter playground?” – said my 4.5 yr old in response the the sea of spray paint cans laying around.

San Pedro Sunken CityThe biggest caution here is the obscene amount of broken glass. Wear closed toe shoes (with good grips) for the best protection. Also be careful while climbing up on some of the rocks as there can be small glass fragments all around.  We weren’t wearing closed toe shoes and climbed rocks without any problems, but it is better to be safe.

Sunken City, San PedroIf you love street art, an adventure and a little hike, this is the place for you. Make a day out of it by visiting the nearby Korean Friendship Bell, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium or picnicking at the adjacent park/playground.

Details

Address: Shepard Street, San Pedro CA ( You can also use this: 500 W Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA, 90731 )

Parking: Park near the grassy area of the park

What to Bring: Sunblock, water, snacks and sturdy shoes with good tread. Wear clothes you can get dirty as you will be crawling through a hole in a fence, scrambling over rocks and walking in a dusty area.

Legality:  Yes it is illegal to trespass. No, no one seems to be bothered. There is actually a proposal on the table to make it open to the public during the day because everyone goes in anyhow. Life is adventure.

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Exploring the Sunken City

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15 Responses to “Exploring the Sunken City of San Pedro”

  1. Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru Says:

    I lived and worked in San Pedro in the early 1980s. The entire land mass around Palos Verdes is so volatile. This is amazing. We loved coming to Cabrillo Beach.
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted…West Sussex Village LifeMy Profile

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  2. Donna Meyer Says:

    I was born and raised in San Pedro. I went to my senior prom with a guy who lived on Paseo del Mar… before it slid into the ocean. Pt. Fermin Park is still one of my favorite parks in the world… I grew up splashing around in the tide pools there. But I never heard of this painted over “sunken city.” I think the art work must have appeared after I moved away, after college. What a great reason to go “home” for a visit. Thanks!
    Donna Meyer recently posted…Remembering Joy in San Miguel de Allende: The Conchero DancersMy Profile

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  3. Elliott Says:

    So interesting. It’s like something right out of a movie. Finding an old sunken land or something. Thanks for sharing.
    Elliott recently posted…Why Everyone Should Do a Working Holiday AbroadMy Profile

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  4. Fiona @ London-Unattached Says:

    what a wonderful place – and how funny that you have to trespass to get there, yet it is so widely accepted!

    I love the painted rocks!
    Fiona @ London-Unattached recently posted…Wine Tasting in LondonMy Profile

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  5. Bethany Dickey Says:

    Wow, how cool -I can just picture groups of teenagers partying there at night. I bet there’s a very cool vibe.

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  6. zof Says:

    I’ve never heard of the city of San Pedro and its dramatic history…I’m glad I came across this post, because this place is literally fascinating. I’m a big street art fan, and I love the way art adopted the city when it was abandoned…
    zof recently posted…Travel Flashback #23My Profile

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  7. Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers Says:

    What a shame so many people have used it as a dumping ground for rubbish, when a pre-schooler comments on it you know it must be bad. The art looks great though, maybe it would be safer for them open it up and clean it up.
    Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers recently posted…Tasty treat or wonder food? Sesame Maple ToffeeMy Profile

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  8. kami Says:

    ah, that’s why I love reading travel blogs, I discover places I had no idea of that way! And San Pedro sounds so interesting and a perfect place to visit for me! I wrote it down and if I’m ever in the area I will visit it for sure!
    kami recently posted…Kosice street art – an urban gallery in SlovakiaMy Profile

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  9. Stacey jean Inion Says:

    Fascinating take on this sunken city. Thanks also for the disclosure on legality; controlled opening sounds like a better idea. Thumbs up on making a good memory for the children.
    Stacey jean Inion recently posted…How Travel Advances My Children with AutismMy Profile

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    • kkowen Says:

      It’s a bit crazy to consider trespassing, but when you see people or all ages, walks of life doing it you feel a bit more secure. The day we visited there was a huge festival happening at the adjacent park with many police and no one even batted an eye! They are in talks now to open it up to the public which would be much nicer!

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  10. Claudia Says:

    WOW, a sunken city. That is an interesting thing. I think we have abandoned villages here in Italy, all over. Not sure I have ever heard of San Pedro before, but now I am curious :)
    Claudia recently posted…How I went from being a bored academic to a fun and free bloggerMy Profile

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  11. Travelwith2ofus Says:

    A great little trip, but like you said, enjoy with caution. I can just imagine the adrenaline rush jumping the fence or climbing down a hole to get to the other side. I love the street art and also the beautiful views of the ocean.
    Travelwith2ofus recently posted…Perk me up mondays! travel photo – Armação De BúziosMy Profile

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    • kkowen Says:

      It was definitely a bit scary jumping the fence and climbing down, especially with a 4.5 yr old. But we made it and it was worth it!

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  12. Jonny Blair Says:

    Wow! Absolutely brilliant photos here, some cool art, I had no idea this San Pedro place even existed. Safe travels.
    Jonny Blair recently posted…Backpacking in the UK: Reasons to Visit Devon and CornwallMy Profile

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