The entrance to mar'sel at Terranea Resort

If you're craving an easy L.A. getaway, Terranea offers up coastal California cuisine and immersive culinary activities as part of a resort experience that feels both extraordinary and relaxed.

Palos Verdes is the sort of place you might envision when the theater lights dim and a soothing baritone starts to speak of a land far, far away. Except that this peninsular paradise—all rustling palms, crashing waves, and frolicking dolphins—happens to be just a few miles from the very studios that record voiceovers and has a rich Hollywood history of its own.

So consider PV, as locals call it, the ideal escape: so close to the frenetic energy of La La Land—and yet so seriously Edenic. Of course, no latter-day Eden would be complete without its organic bounty, and one of the many delights of staying at the oceanfront Terranea Resort is indeed the food.

Dinner for two at bashi
The “Farm-to-Terranea” philosophy driving the culinary scene at this 102-acre hideaway yields such abundance that there are several signature dining venues: the flagship mar’sel (California cuisine), the newly redesigned catalina kitchen (locally sourced New American), Nelson’s (comfort food and microbrews), bashi (the just-refreshed Asian fusion spot), sea beans (legendary coffee and treat shop), the Spa Café (worth a visit just for the juice), and the Lobby Bar (craft cocktails).  

The entire roster of restaurants has won raves, and its offerings have made best-of lists in every category from burgers to brunch. But when in Eden, you should really start, well, in the beginning. One of the most primal food experiences you can (and should try to) have at Terranea is the Sea Salt Workshop that takes place the first Saturday of each month. 

A sampling of the salts harvested at Terranea Resort
As you savor salt pairings, you’ll learn about the onsite Sea Salt Conservatory pioneered by executive chef Bernard Ibarra, whose Basque country upbringing instilled in him a deep sense of living off the land: “My mother taught me many things...during rainy days my sister and I would go snail hunting with her and we would process the snails we gathered with salt that we harvested from sea water.”

Little surprise, then, that he was drawn to Terranea’s shores, which are not only dramatic but also notable for their water quality and mineral content. “Before I began the salt project, I learned that nearby Abalone Cove received a 97 out of 100 points for water quality,” says Ibarra. “The lab chemist who analyzed the salt says it is one of the best he has tested.” 

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Now that the resort is harvesting its own salt, the plan is to become “sea salt sustainable,” with this mineral-rich resource appearing everywhere from the coffee shop—where you can pick up Meyer lemon-infused sea salts for your own kitchen—to the spa. 

And though the resident Catalina View farm is equally elemental to the foodie experience here (with homegrown olives, avocados and chilies, for starters), other California farms provide sublime supplementation, as you’ll discover during any given Farm and Vine Dinner. These five-course fêtes introduce you to fabulous wines—and farmers, who stick around to share stories.

If you’re a foodie to the core, go for the gusto: the Land to Sea Culinary Immersion Package. Among the highlights are a whale-sighting picnic, a tour of the farm, a primer on Terranea’s honeybee program, a sea salt or cheese-making workshop, a wine pairing dinner at mar’sel, a pastry and liquor pairing workshop, and a Chef’s Table Dinner

Whatever your tastes, you'll come away from Terranea with the same conclusion: In this version of a land far far away, memorable culinary experiences are guaranteed.