Free: Tea Time at Point Fermin Lighthouse

The historic San Pedro structure'll set out the goodies (donations are welcome).

A dramatic and storied building hailing from the century before the last century is typically quite eye-catching. Add to that the somewhat astonishing fact that it still stands, in the face of constant change, and you have a place that holds the attention.

But, quite often, something far more transitory and of-the-moment can lend beauty to a longtime structure, too. Consider Point Fermin Lighthouse, in San Pedro, which very recently celebrated its 140th birthday. No doubt about it, the gabled building is a classic on-the-coast landmark, handsome and photo-ready.

That handsomeness is further enhanced by its gardens, those flowers and plants that are not venerable but rather just here for a few weeks or a season. Volunteers tend those gardens, with pride and care, knowing that the flora helps paint a fuller picture of one of Southern California's finest 19th-century landmarks.

To celebrate those gardens at their height, and pay tribute to the people who turn the soil and tend the petals, there is a party, with an appropriately old-world name: Tea by the Sea. The Saturday, May 30 late-morning-to-lunchtime happening was scheduled to coincide with the blooming and bursting of garden flowers, an outdoor area at its yearly height.

The time is 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and tea and light snacks shall be served.

The cost? It's free to attend, but donations are welcome. And, like all donations given to the lighthouse, the funds go back into keeping this living slice of history looking spiffy for future generations to enjoy.

But there's a sprightly twist with the May 30 happening: Any donations received will flower on, in the form of the lighthouse gardens.

You aren't required to show with a frilly eyelet parasol or a bustle in your dress or a seersucker suit; casual beach-close wear is fine.

How often, though, do you sip tea, by the chilly Pacific, on a fine spring day, by one of the most postcard-y lighthouses ever? It's pretty darn cinematic, so a bustle would not be a bad fashion choice at all.

Monocles and top hats, of course, are also optional.

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