Welcome to Long Beach (LB), a vibrant California gem boasting its unique ports, bustling shopping centers, and picturesque beaches.
This coastal city, nestled at the southern tip of Los Angeles County and bordering Orange County, is a melting pot of culture and excitement.
Long Beach's allure lies in its stunning waterfront attractions. The majestic Queen Mary, a historic ocean liner turned museum, anchors the city's maritime charm.
Fun Fact: Once a world-class ocean liner, the Queen Mary is now a floating museum and hotel, permanently docked in Long Beach.
Nearby, the Aquarium of the Pacific offers a window into oceanic wonders, while the Cruise Terminal and Catalina Boat Terminal serve as gateways to further coastal adventures.
Fun fact: Long Beach's port is one of the largest shipping ports in the world, adding a dynamic industrial flair to its scenic coastline.
But there's more! Long Beach pulsates with annual events like the high-speed Grand Prix of Long Beach, the colorful Long Beach Pride Festival and Parade, and is home to the renowned California State University, Long Beach. Discover more about Long Beach on Wikipedia.
Ease of access is key in Long Beach, and its own Airport provides a tranquil alternative to the bustling LAX, perfect for domestic travel.
From my experiences, the city's offerings - like the enchanting Aquarium, luxurious cruises to Mexico, the scenic boat ride to Catalina Island, delightful harbor cruises from Rainbow Harbor, the lively Shoreline Village, adventurous Jet Skiing to Catalina, and festive New Year's celebrations at the Queen Mary – have left indelible impressions.
Let me guide you through my favorite Long Beach spots:
Rainbow Harbor and Shoreline Village
This bustling epicenter is a stone's throw from Downtown LB, linking major attractions. Here, explore the Aquarium, shop at the Pike Outlets, visit the convention center, embark on harbor cruises, and dine at exquisite restaurants offering panoramic views.
Parking is plentiful, with structures nearby and a large facility at the Pike.
Stroll along the Marina and the boardwalk connecting Shoreline Village to Shoreline Park, and immerse yourself in harbor views, local snacks, and waterfront dining.
Fun Fact: Long Beach boasts a scenic 5.5-mile beachfront bike path, perfect for cyclists and inline skaters.
Extend your journey to Shoreline Aquatic Park, boasting a grassy hill and a charming lighthouse, offering a commanding view of the harbor and the Queen Mary.
For a longer exploration, follow the pedestrian path to the Catalina Express Terminal.
An observation tower provides a unique vantage point between Rainbow Harbor and Shoreline Village. Climb up for a connecting walkway to the Convention Center, offering a panoramic view of the area, including the picturesque Rainbow Lagoon Park with its iconic swan boats.
Fun Fact: California State University, Long Beach, has a unique architectural landmark - the Walter Pyramid, one of only three true pyramids in the United States.
Beyond Rainbow Harbor, engage in various activities: bike rentals, whale-watching tours, Aquarium visits, boat rentals, and a nearby Ferris Wheel. For the adventurous, the trail from Shoreline Aquatic Park to Belmont Shore stretches for 5 miles, perfect for a scenic walk or bike ride.
301 E. Ocean Blvd, Suite 1900
Long Beach, CA 90802
Aquarium of the Pacific
A family favorite, the Long Beach Aquarium is a treasure trove of marine life. Though not the largest, it's a delightful blend of entertainment and education. With both indoor exhibits and an enchanting outdoor area, it offers a comprehensive marine experience.
Inside, the Southern California & Baja Gallery showcases the impressive Blue Cavern Tank, mimicking Catalina Island's marine life. Neighboring exhibits feature giant kelp forests and their diverse inhabitants. The Northern Pacific Gallery introduces visitors to sea otters, giant Pacific octopuses, Japanese spider crabs, jellyfish, and sea anemones.
Fun Fact: The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is the largest in Southern California and one of the most visited in the nation.
Before stepping outside, don't miss the 4D theater's immersive nature films on a 180-degree screen. Outdoors, explore shark, manta ray, and penguin habitats. A highlight is the Lorikeet Forest aviary, home to rainbow lorikeets and violet-necked lories. Here, you can interact directly with these colorful birds by feeding them nectar.
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802
The Pike, a sprawling outlet mall, offers a unique shopping experience with stunning harbor views. Home to over 30 retailers, the mall is a shopper's paradise, featuring a mix of restaurants, cinemas, comedy clubs, and hotels, alongside an iconic carousel and Ferris wheel.
Historically, the Pike was an amusement park and pier, adding a layer of nostalgia to its modern charm. Anchor stores include Converse, Forever 21, Gap, Levi's, Nike, and H&M. Culinary delights range from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. to P.F. Chang's, alongside entertainment options like Cinemark and the Laugh Factory.
Fun Fact: The city is home to an impressive collection of Art Deco buildings, including the Villa Riviera and the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium.
Mother's Beach (Marine Park), a serene beach tucked in Alamitos Bay on Naples Island, offers a safe haven for families. Its calm, shallow waters are perfect for young children, while kayakers enjoy the peaceful bay. Lush trees provide ample shade for a relaxing day by the water.
Jet Ski to Catalina Island
Embarking on a Jet Ski Adventure to Catalina Island is an exhilarating experience. Starting at Hotel Maya, Long Beach, this adventure, led by Jetski2Catalina, promises thrilling rides, occasional choppy waves, and delightful encounters with dolphins. The journey is well-planned, ensuring an unforgettable experience.
Long Beach's culinary scene is as diverse as its attractions. From casual bites along Rainbow Harbor and Shoreline Village to upscale dining at the Pike, there's something to suit every palate. Here are some personal favorites:
At Gladstone's, enjoy sumptuous seafood and stunning patio views. The Seafood Linguini with crab is a must-try, along with their other specialties like Hawaiian Mahi Mahi and Swordfish.
Parker's Lighthouse offers a splendid dining experience with multi-level seating and breathtaking views of the harbor. Their Fish and Chips and Arugula and Strawberry Fields Salad are highly recommended, perfectly paired with local craft beer.
Other notable spots include Tequila Jack's for Mexican cuisine and Islands for gourmet burgers. For a quick snack, options like WaBa Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, and Cold Stone Creamery are readily
Tips for Visitors
- Visit between late May and early October for the best weather and outdoor activities.
- Utilize the Passport Shuttle for free transportation around downtown Long Beach and major attractions.
- Rent a bike to explore the scenic beachfront bike path and the city's vibrant neighborhoods.
- Don't miss the Long Beach Museum of Art and the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum for a taste of local culture.
- This area offers a variety of dining options with great views of the marina and Queen Mary.
- For a unique shopping experience, head to Retro Row on 4th Street, known for its vintage shops and indie boutiques.
- Check out the monthly flea market at Veterans Stadium for unique finds and local crafts.
- Explore the calm waters of Alamitos Bay or the Naples canals by kayak or paddleboard.
- Plan your visit around local events like the Long Beach Jazz Festival, Pride Parade, or the Toyota Grand Prix.
- While Long Beach isn’t known for surfing, its beaches like Mother’s Beach are perfect for swimming and sunbathing.