San Pedro: Best places to get an early look at the USS Iowa

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

The USS Iowa won’t open to the public until next month, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to see the World War II battleship. I took a 45-minute harbor cruise from San Pedro just before sunset Saturday and came within 100 yards of the ship.

The views in the soft light were spectacular, and many aboard the boat oohed and ahhed at the sight of the enormous ship in its temporary home at Berth 51.

It’s scheduled to move again Saturday to its more permanent location at Berth 87. Tickets are on sale now for the museum, which opens July 7 ($18 for adults; $10 for children 6 to 17). For those who want to see it now, here are the best ways to get a first look:

Free viewing spots: You can’t walk out to the berth to see the USS Iowa, but you can grab binoculars and see it from afar at these San Pedro locations.


--Lookout Point Park on Gaffey Street and 37th Street across from Angel’s Gate Park. This affords a clear view of the ship and the harbor; there’s a pullout and parking at the view point.

--Cabrillo Beach (3720 Stephen M White Drive), east of the bath house near the Lifeguard Station.

--Toward the east end of 22nd Street between Miner and Signal streets. Peek through the chain link fence and narrow openings in a gate on the east side to get a glimpse or a snapshot.

Fiesta Harbor Cruises [(310) 831-1906]: This tour starts at Berth 79 in Ports o’ Call Village and offers good photo opportunities of the USS Iowa from three sides. Added bonus: The tour also passed by the nearby federal correction facility at Terminal Island (where inmates were out in the recreational yard when I toured) and the resort-like Coast Guard facility and Homeland Security deparment that’s off-limits on land. Tours leave every hour on the half hour from 12:30 -6:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every 45 minutes weekends. Cost: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, children 11 and younger free (cash only).

Los Angeles Maritime Institute [(310) 833-6055]: Two tall ships, the Exy Johnson and the Irving Johnson, will be part of the parade escorting the Iowa to its new home on Saturday. Passengers are welcome aboard the sailings from 8 a.m.-1 p.m., which will be crewed by students. Cost is $125 per adult and $60 for children younger than 12. Proceeds benefit the institute’s TopSail Youth Program.

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