Contrary to popular belief, greater LA is not a total wasteland. In fact there are many great parks and gardens, beaches and hills. One such area is Rancho Palos Verdes. http://goo.gl/maps/kpwN A little trip there uncovered a cliff-side beach from which you couldn't see any civilisation, and could look south to Catalina island. We were also greeted by an overly friendly squirrel. (Click on images to see better sized versions).
I also tried to get all artsy with the trees at the top of the hill.