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Things to Do in Long Beach
Long Beach, California is a city of about half a million people in Los Angeles County, directly south of Downtown LA. It's 24 miles from LA City Hall to Long Beach City Hall. That makes it closer to Downtown LA than some parts of the City of Los Angeles, and the two cities share a border where Long Beach meets the LA port neighborhoods of San Pedro and Wilmington.
Long Beach is best known for its urban waterfront attractions, like the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific, but also has noteworthy cultural establishments and charming neighborhoods in other parts of the city. Despite being the 6th largest city in California, the LBC, as it has become known, has a small-town, provincial feel, with bike-friendly streets, active neighborhood associations and artist collectives that make it feel like everyone knows each other.
Beyond the waterfront and country club mansions and historic craftsman homes, the city is occasionally mentioned in the local news for its struggles with crime in... some inner city areas, which you may pass through on some arteries leading into town. The Metro Blue line passes through some less attractive areas of Carson, Compton and Long Beach on it's way from Downtown LA to Downtown Long Beach. It is not a bigger concern than any other part of LA, you should just take the safety precautions you would in any big city.
Long Beach has more music and cultural festivals every year than anywhere else in Southern California, and a thriving dining and entertainment scene, including famed dive bars and live music venues that have launched a number of notable bands. The city is also known for the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach that turns downtown streets into a race course every April.
Here are the details on 36+ fun things to do in Long Beach.Continue to 2 of 37 below.
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The Queen Mary
The RMS Queen Mary is a classic Art Deco ocean liner which served as a military ship in WWII. It has been turned into a hotel and tourist attraction which offers a variety of tours as well as restaurants and nightlife. The Russian foxtrot submarine Scorpion is also docked with the Queen Mary.Continue to 3 of 37 below.
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Aquarium of the Pacific
The Aquarium of the Pacific at Rainbow Harbor in Downtown Long Beach has over 12,000 pacific coast creatures from penguins, puffins and sea lions to a shark petting tank and a popular lorikeet forest where you can feed the colorful birds.Continue to 4 of 37 below.
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Go to the Beach
Long Beach Beaches offer a variety of activities from biking, skating or walking along the paved beach path to taking kiteboarding lessons. The entire four miles of ocean-facing beaches in Long Beach are sheltered by a breakwater, so there are no surfing waves, which makes them popular for families with kids and people who can't swim. There are additional beaches facing inland waterways.
Bluff Park is the strip of grass and sidewalk path along the top of the bluff from Cherry Avenue in the west to Redondo in the East. The bluff is a favorite spot for romantic sunset walks for people who would rather not go down to the sand. Despite the traffic roaring by on Ocean Blvd, people often picnic on the bluff.Continue to 5 of 37 below.
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Shoreline Village Shopping and Dining
Shoreline Village is a boardwalk area with funky shops, souvenirs, restaurants and bars along Shoreline Marina. There is a carousel, an arcade and bike, pedal cart and skate rentals you can take out on the beach path. You can also rent power boats, Jet Skis, electric boats, kayaks and sailboats from the marina. Shoreline Village hosts live music on summer weekends and during the Christmas season.Continue to 6 of 37 below.
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Wheel Fun Rentals and Segway Tours
Wheel Fun Rentals rent pedal surreys, pedal karts, bikes, tandems, tag-a-longs and strollers at Shoreline Village and Stand-Up Paddleboards at Rainbow Harbor Dock 10. They also offer Segway tours around the Shoreline Marina and Rainbow Harbor area, or an extended tour all the way over to the Queen Mary.
You can also take a Segway Tour from Nation Tours a few blocks away in the East Village Arts District. They also offer a tour that includes a ride around Naples Island in Long Beach.Continue to 7 of 37 below.
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Whale Watching, Harbor Tours and Dinner Cruises
You can catch a variety of boat tours from Long Beach including Harbor Cruises, Whale Watching, Dolphin, Marine Life and Ecotourism Cruises, which are offered by several companies all departing from Rainbow Harbor.
Check prices on Long Beach boat tours.Continue to 8 of 37 below.
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Walk Around Naples Island
Naples Island is actually three islands in Alamitos Bay in Long Beach. There is a big island wrapped around a smaller inner island with another tiny bit of island off to the side known as Treasure Island. When most people talk about walking around Naples Island, they are referring to the inner island, where a walkway wraps around in front of the multi-million dollar mansions. Picturesque bridges, docks and boats create a romantic setting.
You can drive onto the inner island from 2nd Street via N. Ravenna Drive. There's a park with a fountain in the middle of the inner island, with an adjacent parking area on the opposite side of the park called the Colonnade Canal. Once you start walking around the canal and crossing bridges, it's easy to get turned around, so it's a good idea to drop a pin on your smartphone map where you left the car, so you can find your way back, especially if you have to park in the side streets.
During the Christmas season, the houses along the water are all... decorated and people flock to the island to admire the lights. there is also a boat parade around both the outer and inner islands.
If you're worried about getting turned around, or just want the inside scoop, you can take a guided tour from Naples Walking Tours (562) 896-3625.Continue to 9 of 37 below.
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Water Sports in Long Beach
The fact that there are no waves in Long Beach actually makes it a popular place to do all kinds of other water sports from kitesurfing and windsurfing to sailing and sport fishing. Rental boats, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and more are available at both the Shoreline Village Marina and Alamitos Bay.Continue to 10 of 37 below.
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Gondola Getaway offers romantic gondola rides on Alamitos Bay and through the canals around Naples Island in Long Beach.Continue to 11 of 37 below.
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Museum of Latin American Art
The Museum of Latin American Art has an outstanding collection of contemporary paintings and sculptures by Latin American artists, including a Sculpture Garden in the interior courtyard.Continue to 12 of 37 below.
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Second Street and Belmont Shore
Every beach town has a main drag and in Long Beach, that's Second Street in Belmont Shore, lined with sidewalk cafes, restaurants and small boutiques. Even though it's 2nd Street, it's more than 2 blocks from Ocean Blvd and the beach, through a densely populated neighborhood of Spanish-style homes. The east end of the street touches up against Bayshore Beach and crosses onto Naples Island, continuing to Pacific Coast Highway.
Unlike downtown, the proximity to the beach brings lots of people shopping and dining in bikini tops and board shorts (even though you can't surf in Long Beach). Belmont Shore hosts a number of annual events including Stroll and Savor, a Chocolate Festival, a Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival, a pre-Grand Prix Roar at the Shore and late summer Car Show, the Haute Dog Howl'oween Pet Parade and a Christmas Parade.
Second Street in Belmont Shore is just under 3 miles from the Long Beach Convention Center in Downtown Long Beach. There's a bus that runs from downtown to... Belmont Shore along Ocean Boulevard.Continue to 13 of 37 below.
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4th Street Retro Row
Fourth Street Retro Row is a couple blocks of funky retro and thrift shops dotted with a few cool restaurants and wine bars. It's on 4th Street between Junipero (locally pronounced woniPAIRo) and Cherry Avenue. Hollywood costume and set designers raid the shops here to outfit a variety of period movies and TV shows.Continue to 14 of 37 below.
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You can't climb the lighthouse in Lighthouse Park, but this tiny peninsula jutting into Rainbow Harbor is a popular place for skating up the paved trail, checking out the view of the Queen Mary and Rainbow Harbor and picnicking. It gets packed for the 4th of July to watch the fireworks off the Queen Mary and for miscellaneous other spectacles that periodically happen on Rainbow Harbor.
The entrance to Lighthouse Park is just beyond the Aquarium of the Pacific, near Pierpoint Landing.Continue to 15 of 37 below.
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Rancho Los Alamitos
Rancho Los Alamitos
6400 Bixby Hill Road
Long Beach, CA 90815
Rancho Los Alamitos is tucked between California State University, Long Beach and a gated community. This is the last remaining corner of a massive Spanish land grant in 1784 which today serves as a living history museum including six agricultural buildings, working blacksmith shop, a rambling adobe ranch built in 1800, an exhibit center, gift shop and gardens.Continue to 16 of 37 below.
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Rancho Los Cerritos
Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site
4600 Virginia Road
Long Beach, CA 90807
Built in 1844, Rancho Los Cerritos is one of the last remaining two-story adobe structures still in existence in Southern California. It is open as a museum. In summer Rancho Los Cerritos hosts free outdoor community concerts.Continue to 17 of 37 below.
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Long Beach Museum of Art
Long Beach Museum of Art
2300 East Ocean Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90803
Long Beach Museum of Art is a bluff-top museum overlooking the beach with rotating exhibits from the permanent collection as well as touring exhibits. Its best feature is Claire's restaurant for lunch with an ocean view. The museum is free on Fridays.Continue to 18 of 37 below.
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Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum
Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum
695 Alamitos Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802
The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum is based on the personal collection of the late Robert Gumbiner, who also founded the Museum of Latin American Art down the street. The museum rotates exhibits from the collection, which focuses on Micronesian arts.Continue to 19 of 37 below.
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Pine Avenue Nightlife
Pine Avenue is the hub of Downtown Long Beach dining and nightlife with a plethora of mostly independent casual and fine dining restaurants, live music venues and nightclubs. At Broadway and at 3rd Street, the entertainment and nightlife options expand east a block to more recent additions on the Promenade pedestrian zone. Pine Avenue hosts numerous special events and festivals throughout the year from the Thunder Thursday opening of the Long Beach Grand Prix in April to the Taste of Downtown food festival and summer music events.
Read reviews of Pine Avenue.Continue to 20 of 37 below.
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Long Beach Performing Arts
Long Beach Performing Arts Center at the Long Beach Convention Center includes the Terrace Theater, which hosts traveling Broadway musicals, concerts - including major children's productions - and other random stage performances, and the Center Theatre, home to the award winning International City Theatre.
The Carpenter Performing Arts Center at California State University Long Beach is the home of Musical Theatre West and a full schedule of visiting performances.
Long Beach Playhouse is a local community theater that stages high-quality performances on their Mainstage and Studio Theatres.Continue to 21 of 37 below.
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East Village Arts District
The East Village Arts District is an area of shops, galleries and cafes centered around Broadway and Linden in Downtown Long Beach. It's a great place to enjoy a cozy cup of coffee at any of the independent East Village cafes. The block of Linden between 1st and Broadway is closed off the 2nd Saturday of each month for the East Village Art Walk Arts Fair featuring multiple art vendors, multiple gallery openings and live music locations.Continue to 22 of 37 below.
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Tall Ships on Rainbow Harbor
The Tall Ship American Pride offers whale watching, educational trips and Catalina Island excursions from Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach. The tall ship Tole Mour, shown here, also spends a lot of time nearby in Rainbow Harbor. She doesn't offer as many public tours or sailings, but she's beautiful to look at when she's in port.
Every year, the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain also come to town to stage mock battles off the coast.Continue to 23 of 37 below.
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Riverboat Mystery on the Grand Romance
Comedy Murder Mystery Dinners are offered aboard the authentic paddlewheel riverboat Grand Romance at Rainbow Harbor near the Aquarium. The riverboat also periodically hosts other productions.Continue to 24 of 37 below.
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The Navy Memorial at Pierpoint Landing
The Long Beach Navy Memorial pays tribute to the city's naval history, which began in 1908 when President Theodore Roosevelt stationed the 16 ships of the Great White Fleet in the Port of Long Beach. After many decades of being a Navy town, that history ended when they Navy closed the naval shipyard here in 1997.
The Memorial includes a flag mast from the Long Beach Navy Hospital, an anchor from a ship in Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet, a replica of the compass rose from the Naval Station Administration Building and street signs that once marked a shipyard intersection at 9th and Sullivan.
Pictured here is the Navysphere, by artist Terry Braunstein, based on the armillary sphere, an ancient Greek model of the earth. It includes historic photographs and icons of navy life.
The Navy Memorial is located at Pierpoint Landing, behind the Aquarium of the Pacific, adjacent to Lighthouse Park.Continue to 25 of 37 below.
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The Pike at Rainbow Harbor
The Pike Outlets at Rainbow Harbor is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex across from Rainbow Harbor and the Long Beach Convention Center. You'll find the Long Beach Laugh Factory; Sargent Pepper's Dueling Piano Bar; Auld Dubliner Irish Pub, KDB restaurant, bar, bowling alley and game room; a movie theater; and a giant Ferris wheel in addition to the Restoration Hardware, H&M and other outlet stores and restaurants.
The Cyclone Bridge, seen here, is not a ride, but rather a pedestrian bridge between the Pike and Rainbow Harbor.Continue to 26 of 37 below.
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Long Beach Aquabus and AquaLink
Long Beach Transit provides seasonal transportation between waterfront attractions via the Aquabus, pictured here, and the larger Aqualink. It's a fun way to get from the Aquarium of the Pacific and Shoreline Village to the Queen Mary, Belmont Pier or the Alamitos Bay Marina, and an inexpensive way to go for a boat ride, even if you just make the loop without getting off.
You can take the Aquabus from three stops on Rainbow Harbor across to the Queen Mary and Hotel Maya.
The bigger Aqualink, which is wheelchair accessible, travels from the Aquarium of the Pacific to the Queen Mary, the Belmont Pier and Alamitos Bay Landing on the other end of Long Beach.
The water taxi services run from late spring to early fall. Check the Aquabus and Aqualink schedule and fares.Continue to 27 of 37 below.
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Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at CSULB
The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at California State University, Long Beach is a beautiful 1.3-acre garden retreat with a koi pond that's free to the public. Closed Saturdays and Mondays.Continue to 28 of 37 below.
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Party on an Electric Duffy
Duffy is a brand of electric boat that you'll see all around the Southern California marinas and waterways, especially in areas like Alamitos Bay and Shoreline Village in Long Beach, where waterfront residents use them to putter around the canals. You can rent a Duffy at both locations. It's a fun way to have a party out on the water, and the boats are really quiet so you can actually hear each other talk.
Take into consideration when renting a Duffy that you may not be able to get a refund for bad weather, and a cancellation fee may apply with less than 48 hours notice, so keep an eye on the weather forecast when you book in advance.Continue to 29 of 37 below.
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Historical Society of Long Beach
Historical Society of Long Beach
4260 Atlantic Avenue
Long Beach, California 90807
If you're interested in the history of the city by the sea, the Historical Society of Long Beach operates a public gallery in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach, about five miles north of Downtown Long Beach. In addition to rotating exhibits from the historical archives and special themed exhibits that draw from community artifacts, they have a great selection of books on Long Beach and historic photos and postcards for sale.
Mark your calendar for the Saturday before Halloween, when the Historical Society hosts an entertaining Cemetery Tour, where actors tell the fascinating stories of real people interred in Memorial and Sunnyside Cemeteries.Continue to 30 of 37 below.
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Long Beach Air Tours and Flying Lessons
Long Beach Helicopter Tours - Several different helicopter tours are offered from the Long Beach Airport, including tours that fly over Hollywood.
Flying Lessons in Long Beach - Whether you're serious about learning to fly an airplane or just want to give it a whirl, Long Beach is a good place to take a small plane flying lesson in a Cessna or a helicopter flying lesson in an R22 or R44.Continue to 32 of 37 below.
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Long Beach Arena - Things to Do in Long Beach
Long Beach Arena is the round building at the Long Beach Convention Center with the Wyland whale mural Planet Ocean painted all the way around. It looks like it should be the Aquarium, but it's not. the Long Beach Arena hosts major concerts, sporting events and expos.Continue to 33 of 37 below.
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El Dorado Regional Park and Nature Center
El Dorado Park Nature Center is wildlife habitat with marked trails and Nature Center at El Dorado Regional Park. The Regional Center also has bike trails, fishing ponds, paddle boats, an archery field and a train ride. There is a per-car fee to enter the park.Continue to 34 of 37 below.
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The Bembridge House
The Bembridge House
953 N Park Circle Drive
Long Beach, CA 90813
The Bembridge House is a historic 1906 Queen Anne Victorian home in the Drake Park, Willmore City Historic District of Long Beach that is open for tours on Tuesday afternoons and the 4th Saturday of the month. It is operated by Long Beach Heritage. Advance tickets are available.
The house is significant for the architectural integrity of both the exterior and interior, which include a great deal of opulent detail.Continue to 35 of 37 below.
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The Long Beach Pyramid
The Pyramid at California State University Long Beach is one of three pyramid-shaped structures in the United States. This striking blue building is used for sporting events, conferences, weddings, and more.Continue to 36 of 37 below.
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Long Beach Antique Market
Long Beach Antiques and Collectibles Market is a monthly flea market with over 800 antiques and collectibles vendors that draws vendors and visitors from around the country. It takes place on the 3rd Sunday of the month with bonus markets whenever there's a 5th Sunday in a month.Continue to 37 of 37 below.
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First Fridays in Bixby Knolls
Bixby Knolls is a family-friendly neighborhood in North Long Beach with a hub of shops and restaurants along Atlantic Avenue. On the First Friday of each month, they host the First Fridays Bixby Knolls art walk. It's more music than art, with bands of all ages from high school students to senior rockers posted along about five to seven blocks (depending which side of the street you walk on) between Bixby Road and San Antonio Drive.
Most of the art is in and around the Expo Center at the north end, but there are also exhibits in yoga studios, shops and other businesses, and miscellaneous sidewalk vendors and artists along the route.
Check out this video of the Bixby Knolls First Friday Art Walk.