When it comes to Southern California destinations, Long Beach often flies under the radar, overshadowed by its more famous neighbors. However, this bustling coastal city is a hidden gem that offers a plethora of activities and attractions for locals and visitors alike. From its stunning waterfront to its rich cultural scene, Long Beach boasts a unique blend of history, nature, and modern entertainment. Here are some must-do activities to make the most of your time in Long Beach, California.
1. Stroll Along the Iconic Waterfront
Long Beach’s waterfront is a jewel that defines the city’s character. Start your adventure at Shoreline Village, a charming waterfront shopping and dining area that offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Take a leisurely walk along the Rainbow Harbor Promenade, where you’ll find colorful sailboats and the majestic Queen Mary ocean liner, now a floating hotel and museum. As you wander, the sea breeze and captivating scenery will rejuvenate your senses.
2. Immerse Yourself in Aquatic Wonders
For marine enthusiasts, the Aquarium of the Pacific is a must-visit. This world-class institution showcases diverse marine life from the Pacific Ocean, providing an educational and interactive experience for visitors of all ages. You can touch sharks, admire vibrant coral reefs, and learn about conservation efforts that protect our oceans.
3. Explore Historic Queen Mary
The RMS Queen Mary is not just a ship; it’s a piece of living history. Step aboard this grand ocean liner that once transported celebrities, dignitaries, and soldiers during World War II. Take guided tours to discover its opulent Art Deco design, elegant ballrooms, and even its haunted legends. The ship’s history is vividly brought to life through exhibits and artifacts.
4. Discover Cultural Marvels
Long Beach’s cultural scene is as diverse as its population. The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) boasts an impressive collection of modern and contemporary Latin American art. You can explore vibrant paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations that celebrate the rich artistic heritage of the region. Additionally, the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum offers a unique insight into the cultures of the Pacific Islands through its exhibits and events.
5. Relax on the Beach
No visit to Long Beach is complete without spending time on its pristine beaches. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, swim, or simply take a peaceful beachfront walk, Long Beach offers a range of coastal areas to suit your preferences. Alamitos Beach and Junipero Beach are popular choices, providing ample opportunities for relaxation and recreation.
6. Indulge in Culinary Delights
Long Beach’s culinary scene is a fusion of flavors from around the world. Explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods to find international cuisines that will tantalize your taste buds. From fresh seafood to delectable Mexican dishes, your culinary journey in Long Beach will be a highlight of your visit.
7. Visit the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
Step into a serene oasis at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, located on the campus of California State University, Long Beach. This hidden gem features meticulously designed landscapes, tranquil ponds, and authentic Japanese architecture. It’s a perfect spot for meditation, photography, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature.
8. Enjoy Outdoor Recreation
Long Beach offers a range of outdoor activities for the adventure seekers. You can rent bikes and explore the city’s bike paths, or take to the water with kayaking and paddleboarding in the calm waters of Alamitos Bay.
9. Experience Local Events
Check the local events calendar before your trip, as Long Beach hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year. From music and art festivals to food and wine events, there’s always something exciting happening in the city.
10. Soak in the Nightlife
As the sun sets, Long Beach transforms into a vibrant nightlife hub. Pine Avenue and the East Village Arts District are known for their bars, clubs, and live music venues. Whether you’re into craft cocktails, dancing, or live performances, Long Beach has options to keep you entertained after dark.
11. Tour the Naples Canals
Transport yourself to a picturesque European setting in the heart of Long Beach by exploring the Naples Canals. This charming neighborhood features a series of man-made canals lined with beautiful waterfront homes and quaint bridges. You can take a gondola ride through the canals for a romantic and unique experience.
12. Shop at Retro Row
If you’re a fan of vintage and eclectic finds, head to Retro Row on 4th Street. This trendy district is known for its boutique shops, antique stores, and thrift shops. You’ll discover a treasure trove of clothing, accessories, vinyl records, and one-of-a-kind items that capture the spirit of past eras.
13. Discover the Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site
Step back in time to the 19th century by visiting the Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site. This adobe-style ranch house offers guided tours that provide insights into California’s ranching and early settlement history. Explore the beautifully landscaped gardens and learn about the families who once called this place home.
14. Attend a Long Beach Symphony Performance
For music enthusiasts, the Long Beach Symphony is a cultural gem that hosts a variety of orchestral performances throughout the year. From classical compositions to contemporary interpretations, the symphony’s talented musicians deliver captivating and unforgettable experiences.
15. Experience the El Dorado Nature Center
Nature lovers will find solace at the El Dorado Nature Center, a serene oasis within the bustling city. This expansive nature preserve offers hiking trails, wildlife viewing areas, and serene ponds. It’s the perfect place to reconnect with nature, spot local bird species, and enjoy a leisurely walk in a peaceful environment.
16. Explore the Science of Fun at the Discovery Cube
Perfect for families with curious minds, the Discovery Cube is an interactive science museum that engages visitors of all ages. From hands-on exhibits about physics and engineering to immersive experiences about space exploration, this museum makes learning a thrilling adventure.
17. Catch a Performance at the Long Beach Playhouse
For theater enthusiasts, the Long Beach Playhouse is a hub of artistic expression. Enjoy an evening of entertainment by watching a play or a musical performance in this intimate and vibrant theater setting.
18. Take a Day Trip to Catalina Island
While not technically in Long Beach, nearby Catalina Island is a popular day-trip destination accessible by ferry. Explore the island’s natural beauty through hiking, snorkeling, and admiring its charming town of Avalon.
19. Discover Bixby Knolls Art Walk
If you’re an art lover, make sure to visit Bixby Knolls during its monthly First Fridays Art Walk. This event transforms the neighborhood into a lively art scene, with galleries, shops, and restaurants showcasing local artists’ creations.
20. Relax at Rosie’s Dog Beach
Traveling with a furry friend? Long Beach is also known for its dog-friendly areas. Rosie’s Dog Beach is a haven for four-legged companions, offering a stretch of shoreline where dogs can frolic in the sand and surf to their hearts’ content.
21. Cruise on the Long Beach Harbor
For a different perspective of the city, embark on a harbor cruise. These cruises offer narrated tours that highlight Long Beach’s maritime history, iconic landmarks, and breathtaking coastal views.
In conclusion, Long Beach, California, offers a diverse range of activities and attractions that cater to every traveler’s interests. From exploring historical landmarks and cultural gems to enjoying the sun and surf, this coastal paradise promises a memorable experience that goes beyond the typical California destinations. So, pack your bags, soak in the sun, and immerse yourself in the unique charm of Long Beach.