If you’re planning a visit to California anytime soon, these 15 things to do in Long Beach are worth considering making time for!
Long Beach, California is a bustling city of just under 500,000 residents that boasts 345 days of annual sunshine. The city has a vibrant and colorful energy, regularly hosting events including festivals, carnivals, and major concerts. It is an exciting and versatile place to visit; there is a seemingly never-ending list of cool things to do in Long Beach. Just over 20 miles from LAX, Long Beach is easy to get in and out of. It is also only 35 miles away from Beverly Hills and Hollywood.
Aquarium of the Pacific
Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific / Facebook
One of the most unique and interesting things to do in Long Beach is visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific. The Aquarium is the largest in Southern California and hosts over 1.5 million visitors annually. Home to over 11,000 species of fish and other aquatic lifeforms, the Aquarium has over 50 current exhibits. There are over 150 sharks and rays alone.
Also, the Aquarium of the Pacific also offers several workshops, interactive activities, as well as educational programs and lectures about sustainability and ocean conservation. Oh, yeah, did I mention that you if you’re brave enough that you can even pet the sharks? How cool is that? If you love aquatic creatures or want to earn the bragging rights that come with touching a shark, the Aquarium of the Pacific is for you.
The Pike at Rainbow Harbor
Among the most iconic things to do in Long Beach is taking a day-trip to the Pike at Rainbow Harbor. Boardwalks, shopping, restaurants, bars, and clubs and more are conveniently located along the entire stretch. One of the most popular places in Long Beach for decades, the Pike at Rainbow Harbor is an excellent spot to kick back and relax, have a few drinks, even to celebrate with friends and family. At the same time, it is a great spot to take a stroll and spend some quality time with the kids and spouse. Regardless of your reasons for ending up at the Pike at Rainbow Harbor, the Long Beach Ferris Wheel is a must-see and must-do.
The Queen Mary
Credit: The Queen Mary
If you have a love for history, perhaps number one on the list of things to do in Long Beach may be a trip aboard The Queen Mary. For those unfamiliar with The Queen Mary, she is one of the world’s most luxurious liners of the 20th century. The famous ship has called Southern California home since the late 1960s. Visitors to the boat will enjoy the beautiful hotel staterooms, bars, lounges, restaurants and all the fine details of the ship right down to the fully-functional portholes. Taking a tour of The Queen Mary will impart upon visitors the ship’s intriguing history including everything from construction to her regal launch and her service in World War II, up to her last voyage in 1967.
Visit Shoreline Village
Another iconic stop on the long list of things to do in Long Beach is a visit to the Shoreline Village. The area consists of several family-friendly entertainment and restaurant venues, as well as plenty of bars, boutiques, and specialty stores. There are all sorts of stuff for the kids to get into also, such as skating, skeeball, and an arcade.
Also, if you’re interested in picking up a one-of-a-kind souvenir, Shoreline Village is the place to go. Jewelry, arts and crafts, and clothing are widely available at various niche shops in Shoreline Village. As a side note, if you have a couple of stacks to blow, you can even rent a private yacht for the evening or weekend.
The Museum of Latin American Art
Credit: Museum of Latin American Art / Facebook
For art fanatics and lovers of Latin culture, checking out the Museum of Latin American Art is one of the coolest things to do in Long Beach. Located in downtown Long Beach, the museum is home to four galleries, a massive 15,000 square foot sculpture garden, as well as a space reserved for “projects.” There are over 1,300 works of art in the museum including paintings, drawings, photography, video art, and sculptures.
The Museum of Latin American Art offers more than just galleries of art; they frequently host one-of-a-kind exhibitions and unique events. In addition, there is even an art studio, library, film screening room, and a museum store on-site as well. For those interested in learning about Latin American culture, and seeing some cool art along the way, consider adding the Museum of Latin American Art to your list of top things to do in Long Beach.
The Long Beach Museum of Art
Another of the best Museums in Long Beach is its Museum of Art. Situated in beautiful Bluff Park, for art lovers, visiting the Long Beach Museum of Art is like experiencing a slice of heaven. The Museum’s collection consists of several thousand pieces of art from various time periods and includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, and other decorative art. A large portion of the Museums exhibits is 20th-Century American and European art.
In addition to exhibits, the Museum offers numerous workshops and educational programs geared toward teaching children about decorative art and creating children’s exhibitions. There is a cozy little cafe with an ocean view called Claire’s at the Museum as well. If you love west coast American art, make sure to swing by this Long Beach Museum of Art.
Credit: El Dorado Nature Center / Facebook
For nature lovers, the El Dorado Nature Center is by far one of the most enjoyable things to do in Long Beach. El Dorado is a patch of nature between the 605 Freeway and the San Gabriel River. There is no better quick retreat into lush greenery from the center of the city than escaping to El Dorado.
There are dozens of species of local fauna and flora as well as a series of hiking trails and a visitors center at El Dorado. If you are looking for a great place to ground yourself while visiting Long Beach, or maybe even have an afternoon picnic, you will be hard pressed to do better than El Dorado.
The Belmont Shore neighborhood in Long Beach is one of the most interesting spots to visit in the city. The entire area consists of early 20th-Century themed homes, shops, restaurants, and bars. The actual Belmont Shore is touted as one of the best places to ride waves, go sailing, or enjoy kite surfing.
If you are into cars and happen to be visiting in the early autumn, perhaps one of the most impressive things to do in Long Beach is attending the annual Belmont Shore Car Show. It is the largest one-day car show on the entire west coast of the United States. Despite being so fond of their cars, the locals know how to keep their beach clean and their tourists happy, closing the beach from traffic for the majority of the day during summer months.
The LBSU Walter Pyramid
Credit: Walter Pyramid LBSU / Facebook
Sports fans, hold onto your hats! The next item on our list of the top things to do in Long Beach is the Walter Pyramid. This 105 meters, 5,000 seats, indoor arena is the home stadium of the Long Beach State University 49ers. The pyramid is believed to be the most prominent space-frame structure in the United States as well as a state and national icon. If you are into Long Beach State University sports, you don’t want to miss a chance to witness the pyramid. It is also one of the coolest things to do in Long Beach for those who have a real interest in architecture.
The neighborhood of Naples is yet another of the most iconic parts of Long Beach for tourists to visit. Separated into three islands, the community consists of Italian-like street names, an arched bridge, a fancy three-tiered fountain, and canals like you’d find in Venice. All in all, you might as well have teleported to Italy. Whether you feel like taking a stroll with your spouse, renting kayaks or hydro bikes, or taking a romantic gondola ride, Naples has a magical atmosphere about it. If you are looking for an enchanting evening while visiting Long Beach, you’re more likely to find it in Naples.
Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
Credit: Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, CSULB / Facebook
Visiting the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is one of the most tranquil experiences you can have in Long Beach. The Japanese-style garden sits on the edge of the California State University and is so well-kept you have to see it to believe it. Initially, the garden was created as an educational resource to the University on behalf of Earl Burns Miller back in 1981 by his wife, Loraine. The garden takes up nearly an acre and a half and mimics the traditional Japanese Imperial gardens found in Tokyo.
There are paths, water, bridges, and plenty of fauna and flora. The gardens are so impressive that they are even rented out for weddings and receptions. If you love nature, especially flowers, take the time to smell the roses at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden the next time you’re in Long Beach.
Long Beach Antique Market
The Long Beach Antique Market is a traditional flea market offering a bit of everything. From antiques to fine jewelry, clothing and various collectibles. Sprawling over 20 acres of Long Beach, with over 800 vendors to choose from, you can spend an entire morning or afternoon at the Long Beach Antique Market. The market has a national reputation as one of the top flea markets in the whole country, and it is no wonder why. No matter who you are, or what you are interested in, you will find something, especially when it comes to antiques and collectibles. Even if you don’t want to spend any cash, the Long Beach Antique Market is still a great place to experience some authentic local Long Beach culture.
Credit: Parkers' Lighthouse / Facebook
No list of things to do in Long Beach is complete without mentioning at least one great place to eat. That said, Parkers’ Lighthouse is one of the best you will find. The restaurant is most well-known for its impeccable service, handy wine list, and award-winning menu. When it comes to experiencing Southern California seafood, there is nowhere better to partake than Parkers’ Lighthouse. The sashimi and sushi are also to die for. Also, Queensview Steakhouse is within the Lighthouse, where guests can enjoy great views, lobster, steak, and other excellent dining menu options.
Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center
If you are into live performances, then you are in for a treat the next time you roll through Long Beach. Slide into the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, also known as the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, and you will be thanking yourself for years to come. The word on the street is that there are no bad seats in the entire place. Situated on the California State University, the venue is more than lively. It is host to not only theatrical and musical performances but also for forums and films as well. Whether you feel like catching a concert with some friends, or a movie with the spouse and kids.
Harbor Breeze Cruises
Credit: Harbor Breeze Cruises
For those who are into whale watching, Harbor Breeze Cruises are unquestionably among the best things to do in Long Beach. The company operates two catamarans with which they offer several different whale watching tours. Each of the boats is state-of-the-art when it comes to both safeties as well as comfort. There are also decks for viewing as well as taking photographs and videos. Inside, there is a lounge area with drinks, snacks, and bathrooms. Harbor Breeze Cruises are carried out by experienced professionals from the Aquarium of the Pacific, so you know you’re in good hands. Also, with the help of the knowledgeable crew you will have better luck spotting blue, gray, and orca whales as well as dolphins and seabirds.
No matter whether you’re the surfer type, the trendy tourist, or the business person passing through, these 15 things to do in Long Beach will keep you entertained and then some!
From a late night stroll along one of the cities most notable shorelines to a local sporting event at the Walter Pyramid, there is no lack of fun and interesting things to do in Long Beach.
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