San Pedro is only a 20-mile drive on the 110 from downtown L.A., but it can feel like a world away from the city. L.A.'s most southerly neighborhood (yes, San Pedro is part of L.A.) retains a laid-back, working-class vibe, due in large part to its history as a major shipping center, home to the nation's busiest container port: the Port of Los Angeles. Nestled along the port's main channel sits Ports O' Call Village, a 15-acre open-air shopping complex modeled after a New England seaside town, offering souvenir shops, candy vendors and seafood restaurants. The highlight is the San Pedro Fish Market, where thousands of weekly visitors load up their trays with fresh shrimp, lobster, crab and fish before handing them to a worker who simply asks, “Grilled or fried?” Minutes later, the catch is ready to enjoy with a beer or a side of garlic bread on the sprawling dining patio overlooking the water. The Village's quaint clapboard structures have become a bit ragged over the past 50 years, and a $150 million redevelopment plan calls for the demolition of all buildings. The new complex, dubbed the San Pedro Public Market, is set to be completed by 2020 and will have space for the family-owned Fish Market, but the rest of Ports O' Call's old-school, down-to-earth charm may well be lost at sea.
Credit: Von Skye