Secret Stair Walk #41: Pacific Palisades- Castellammare

It’s about time I shared another Secret Stair Walk with you! This time I ventured over to the west side of town, specifically Pacific Palisades- Castellammare. The great thing about this neighborhood is its steep slope which gives you amazing views of the ocean the entire walk. It also means you get a workout. Get ready to sweat!

—  In 2012 my goal is to do all 42 walks from the book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. These posts are to (hopefully) convince you to buy the book and get out there to explore the secret stairs around LA. Enjoy! UPDATE: Due to unforeseen issues, I’ll be completing the last handful of walks I have left in 2013. —


Get ready for a beautiful walk. I’m so jealous of the people who live in these homes, and look out at this all day. If I lived here, I’d be a shut-in.


These homes are beautiful and obviously very expensive, but it’s refreshing to see they aren’t cookie-cutter and there was a lot of creativity on display in this neighborhood. You know how I love doors…


A good tip to this neighborhood: there’s a walking path that takes you over the PCH and down to the beach, so if you are having a tough time dealing with parking drive up into the neighborhood where it’s not restricted and just walk across the bridge to get to the beach.


I love texture.


The beach!


There’s a very colorful giant garden along this walk that you can’t miss.


Up the stairs, down the stairs.


I said hello to a nice older man making this beauty (above) out in his driveway.

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Every view on this walk is breathtaking. This is the only way to exercise. Doesn’t this make the gym seem like a prison? You can even see Catalina!


One of the best parts of this walk was when it took us by Villa de Leon. This Italianate mansion overlooking the Pacific is like something out of a movie. Such beautiful architecture, still being renovated (see photo below) and grounds covered in statues. The sad thing was that the only person we saw walking the grounds was a home nurse on her break. It made me sad to think whoever has the money to afford this home is probably very old and has ailing health. But if I needed to pick a place to be bed ridden, it would be here.

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Above is a photo of Thema Todd’s garage (her home is higher up on the hillside). This is where she lived when she died of asphyxiation (suspiciously).


Keep a good watch on this walk and not only will you see a cow, but you’ll see a giraffe!

*** UPDATE ***

I recently received a sweet email from the owners of “Giardino di Stretto” (aka the beautiful, colorful garden in the photos above). They’ve been working on their garden and wanted to share some photos of its updated look. I had high hopes of going out there myself and snapping some shots, but my weekends have been too packed to make it over there. Below are the garden-owners photos. Very impressive!



LA Walk #1 Castellammare: Pacific Palisades’ “Castle On The Sea”

This past Sunday I ventured out to the Pacific Palisades for what I was expecting to be a chilly ocean-air walk. Turns out that the end of November in Los Angeles is gorgeous. The weather was a perfect 75 degrees. If you are new to the blog, then I must explain that I have the goal of completing all 38 walks from the book Walking L.A. Second Edition (by Erin Mahoney Harris) in the year 2011. I’ve got a month and a couple days to finish my last 5… I’m so close I can taste it. Anywho, back to the Palisades.

The walk takes you through a beautiful neighborhood where everyone has views of the water. This walk also introduces a new area where you can park, walk over a bridge and be at the beach without having to pay a ridiculous amount to park (SCORE!). It was such a nice day, I couldn’t resist the ocean and had to put my feet in.

One thing I must point out about this neighborhood is that everyone was extremely friendly. Most people along these walks are polite, but considering it was such a ritzy neighborhood and it would have been very easy for people to be suspicious instead of gregarious. One woman drove by and slowed to wish me a happy walk. Very sweet people.

One eerie tale that the book notes is that actress Thelma Todd died in this home (that you pass along the walk) in 1935 from carbon monoxide poisoning, and it’s never been determined if it was suicide, an accident or foul play. Suspicious.

If you buy the L.A. Walks book and do walk #1 (or decide to explore the Castellammare area) be sure to visit a nearby hike in the Topanga State Park. One somewhat quiet (aka secret) hike begins near this neighborhood. Take Paseo Miramar (off Sunset) until it ends. Park along the road and begin the hike on the fire road. This hike begins among mansions and takes you into the mountains with stunning views of the ocean. This hike is a challenge and on hot days, beware of snakes, but this hike is unlike anything else and worth doing. P.S. Bring a camera.