You can lose hours and hours staring into the little galaxies that are the Abalone Cove tide pools. Depending on what the tide is doing (be sure to check, because high tide is considerably less exciting), you'll see purple sea urchins, starfish, hermit crabs, nudibranchs, sea snails, sea hares, mussels and clams. Try not to squash them as you go along — it's an ecological reserve. Plus, squashing a critter that can live up to 200 years — like that red urchin — is, you know, just not nice. Otherwise, if the waves are low enough, it's fun to clamber over boulders out to the very edge of the cove to be bombarded by sea spray, or pick your way across a strange, flat expanse of striated rock that will make you feel as if you're walking on the ocean's surface. 5970 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes. (310) 377-1222, —Gendy Alimurung

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