Long Beach is located south of Los Angeles and is a coastal city with a great waterfront in Southern California. This port city has many unique and wonderful attractions, including the retired Queen Mary, the islands of Naples, fabulous beaches, and it is a great place to take part in a variety of water sports.
From surfing to paddle boarding, renting a boat or Duffy, water skiing, and even riding in a real Venetian Gondola, Long Beach has many ways to get out on the water. But it’s not all about watersports; Long Beach has hundreds of great restaurants, wine bars, cocktail bars, and incredible brunch spots that make it a foodie destination in itself.
To help you make the most of your visit to this magical destination, we have created this ultimate guide to Long Beach sharing the best places to stay in Long Beach, where to eat and drink, the top activities in and around the city, plus a 3 day recommended weekend itinerary!
Top 10 Things To Do In Long Beach
There are plenty of things to do in Long Beach, each time you visit you will find something new to do. But with so many options, where should you begin? Here are our top 10 things to do in Long Beach that we recommend for first time visitors to the city.
1) Hire A Duffy On Alamitos Bay
A Duffy boat ride is a must in Southern California, and cruising around Alamitos Bay and the canals in Long Beach is the perfect place to do it. There are a few Duffy rental options including Boathouse On The Bay and London Boat Rentals. We went out for a 2 hour cruise with Boat House On The Bay and couldn’t recommend them enough.
The Duffy is big enough for a group and has a deck at the back with extra seating. You can bring your own snacks or arrange for these beforehand with Boathouse On The Bay – treat yourself to some prosecco and oysters and turn your ride into a luxury cruise!
2) Take A Boat Tour Around Long Beach Harbor
Harbor Breeze Cruises offers a scenic boat tour of Long Beach Harbor, which is a great way to get out on the water and see the area from the ocean. These tours also visit Rainbow Harbor, Shoreline Village, Point Vicente Lighthouse, the Port of Long Beach, and go past the Aquarium of the Pacific.
You can often spot bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, seals, orcas, gray whales, and more from these boat tours.
3) Go Kayaking In Belmont Shore
If you want to take to the water but want a more tranquil experience, you can rent kayaks in Belmont Shore and explore the calmer waters around this area. You can even paddle past the incredible mansions and through the canals in Naples. If you prefer to relax and have someone else do the work you can even take a ride in a genuine Venetian gondola!
4) Visit Retro Row And Visit The Unique Stores
Retro Row or Fourth Street is an area of the city with many restaurants and bars and unique boutique stores selling vintage products, retro furniture, and quirky gifts. This area also has the historic Art Theatre, beauty salons, and spas.
5) Take A Walk Around Belmont Shore
Belmont Shore is a great location to take a walk around or hire a bicycle and has a large array of restaurants and markets to stop for lunch or pick up some fresh produce.
There is also a beach path to walk along the oceanfront, or you can relax on the beach. You can even take to the water and try sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking, water skiing, go swimming, or stick to the dry land and have a game of volleyball.
During the summer, Belmont Shore has live music and local art displays on Thursday nights and many other events happening throughout the summer months.
6) Visit The Attic On Broadway For Brunch
No weekend or girls’ getaway would be complete without a stop for brunch, and a great place to have brunch in Long Beach is at The Attic on Broadway.
This southern-style Instagrammable brunch spot opened in 2012 and is located within a 1920s’ style building. The idea and feel of the location are to remind visitors of a family brunch with the traditional favorites and some unique additions, including the famous MacNCheetos.
They also have an incredible Bloody Mary, which comes with an entire slider stacked on. They have great traditional southern cocktails famous in New Orleans – the hurricane and the Mexican michelada. And, of course, mimosas!
7) Purchase Some Souvenirs At Cityology
If you are looking for some gifts from your friends or family from your trip, Cityology is the right place to stop as it sells everything you can imagine and more. Other great shopping spots close by are the women’s boutique Elison Rd, the gift shop Luna, House of Intuition, and Blue Windows.
8) Visit Long Beach’s Answer To Italy In The Naples Neighborhood
If you miss Europe or want to get a feel of Italy, head to Long Beach’s Naples neighborhood. Fitting to its name, Naples resembles the infamous Italian city of Venice, divided into three islands, surrounded by canals and connected by beautiful arched bridges.
Even the street names in Naples are Italian. There is also Bella Flora Park within the neighborhood, which is home to the La Bella Fontana Di Napoli, a three-tiered fountain built in 1971.
A great way to explore Naples is to wander around the streets or take to the water on a paddleboard, kayak or gondola.
9) Learn To Roller Skate
Before visiting Long Beach I had no idea that they had such a skating community. You will quickly discover that roller skating is one of the most popular Long Beach pass times due to the 5.5 mile beach path that makes the perfect skating lane.
As well as the beach path there are several roller skating rinks, such as Bayshore Roller Rink and The Rinks. If you really want to get into the Long Beach lifestyle stop by Pigeons Roller Skate Shop on 4th street and pick up a pair of your own!
10) Explore El Dorado Nature Center
El Dorado Nature Center is a 105-acre park perfect for getting back to nature and away from the city streets. The center has an abundance of flora and fauna with two miles of trails by lakes, streams, and forest areas. The nature center has an educational center, art gallery, and small gift shop.
Other Things To See in Long Beach:
- Museum of Latin American Art
- Long Beach East Village
- Mother’s Beach
- Bluff Park
- Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum
- Long Beach Antique Market
- The Aquarium of the Pacific
- Downtown Long Beach
- The Lion Lighthouse
Where To Stay In Long Beach
My favorite hotel to stay in is the Hotel Maya , located in Downtown Long Beach in Queensway Bay. The hotel has taken inspiration from Latin America while also feeling at home in southern California.
This hotel covers 14 acres, with a 6,500 square feet of resort-style outdoor space, complete with a man-made beach, fire pits, day beds and an amazing swimming pool complete with poolside cabanas. The resort hotel has 199 rooms with a mixture of suites, water view rooms, accessible rooms, all in various configurations.
The resort also has water sports, tours, and the Latin-infused Fuego restaurant. If you don’t choose to stay at the hotel you can head to Fuego for brunch on the water.
Here are the 10 best hotels in Long Beach:
- The Westin Long Beach – Top-rated hotel in the middle of downtown, with resort-style facilities.
- Hyatt Regency Long Beach – Located close to the waterfront while still being close enough to walk downtown.
- The Cove Hotel – Close to Shoreline Village, this hotel is within walking distance of many of the city’s many attractions.
- Broadlind Hotel – A boutique apartment/hotel located within a historic building in the East Art Village of downtown.
- Hotel Current – Located close to the Museum of Latin American Art, the hotel features artwork by local artists.
- Long Beach Marriott – Resort-style hotel located close to Long Beach Airport.
- The Varden Boutique Hotel – Newly renovated boutique hotel located downtown with 35 rooms.
- Hilton Long Beach – Located close to the Aquarium of the Pacific and 700m from downtown.
- Hotel Royal – 3-star accommodation close to Junipero Beach.
Where To Eat In Long Beach
With 11 miles of shoreline, Long Beach has ample waterfront dining options, in addition to the hundreds of other restaurants located within the city. Everything from family-friendly restaurants to seafood restaurants, world-class restaurants, to unique fusions of cuisines. You will find the perfect brunch, lunch, and dinner options within the city.
Here are 10 of the top-rated restaurants in Long Beach:
- Fuego – Great restaurant inside Hotel Maya overlooking the water.
- Lola’s Mexican Cuisine – Local’s favorite Mexican restaurant, located in Retro Row.
- Parker’s Lighthouse – Downtown waterfront restaurant with views of the lighthouse, Queen Mary, and the harbor.
- The Attic on Broadway – Famous brunch spot, with incredible Bloody Mary’s (including an entire slider!) and their famous MacNCheetos.
- The Ordinarie – Great American Tavern serving comfort foods like pot pie, pot roasts, macaroni, and cheese, in addition to mussels and salmon. They also have an extensive cocktail and draft beer menu.
- Ammatoli – A fusion of cultures with an influence from Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine, with a Mediterranean influence.
- Seabirds Kitchen – Plant-based vegan restaurant, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and pushes the boundaries of vegan cuisine.
- Phnom Penh Noodle Shack – Serving Cambodian cuisine since 1985, this family-owned and operated restaurant is located in Cambodia Town.
- Playa Amor – Award-winning chef Thomas Ortega has created a playful Mexican – American restaurant, playing homage to both sides of the border.
- HiroNori Craft Ramen – Considered by many to be the best Ramen in California, the Long Beach location has the whole experience: loud, tiny, and hole-in-the-wall feels – they even have vegan ramen.
Bars and Rooftops
Whether you prefer cocktail bars, wine bars, or beach bars, Long Beach has everything you could want from a bar and more. People often travel from outside the city to enjoy the cities diverse nightlife selection.
Here are a few of the best bars in Long Beach:
- District Wine – Wine Bar with a lounge feel, and outdoor firepits, the prosciutto bon-bons is a must-try here.
- Art Du Vin – Wine Bar with cheeses and charcuterie and, of course, wine, which is handpicked for you by a knowledgeable sommelier.
- BO-Beau Kitchen + Rooftap – A great bar with a plush lounge and an upstairs outdoor “rooftap.”
- The Ordinarie Cocktail Bar – mentioned as a great restaurant to try in Long Beach, but also serves up delicious cocktails. The lavender gin and tonic is highly recommended to try!
Where to Shop
Long Beach is filled with unique and wonderful stores; whether you are looking to purchase art-decor pieces, high-end clothes, souvenirs, or unique one-of-a-kind items, there is a store for everything you need.
Here are a few of the best stores in Long Beach:
- The Hangout (pictured)
- MAKE Collectives
- Oh La Vache
- Elison Rd
- Luna Gift Shop
- Recircle Home
- Blue Windows
Here are some additional, not-to-be-missed, things to do and see in Long Beach:
Korean Friendship Bell
Located in San Pedro, the Korean Friendship Bell is located within Angels Gate Park. The bell was given to Los Angeles in 1976 by the Republic of Korea to celebrate the 200th anniversary of US Independence.
The bell is rung every 4th July, National Liberation Day of Korea (August 15), Korean-American Day (January 13), New Year’s Eve, and the 1st Saturday of each month.
Wayfarers Chapel is located in Rancho Palos Verdes, on the Pacific Ocean coastline. Famous for its uniqueness and original design, with views over the ocean.
Point Vicente Lighthouse
Located just 30 minutes drive outside the city, the Point Vicente Lighthouse is located on a clifftop in Rancho Palos Verdes. Built in 1926, the lighthouse is used by the United States Coast Guard, but it is open for tours on the second Saturday of each month (except March) and during the annual Whale of a Day festival (March).
There are many hiking routes around the area to see the lighthouse and surrounding cliffs.
The Queen Mary
Located in Long Beach, the RMS Queen Mary is a retired 1930s British Ocean Liner which made its home in Long Beach in 1967. The Queen Mary is currently closed to visitors, but you can get great views of the ship from Lions Lighthouse, the dock outside of Parkers Lighthouse or a stroll down the water’s edge from the Maya Hotel.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is a must-see for any traveler to Southern California. It is Southern California’s largest aquarium, has over 1.7million visitors per year and it displays about 12,000 animals and more than 100 exhibits that celebrate the planet’s largest body of water: The Pacific Ocean!
Its galleries represent both frigid waters from Northern parts of the country as well as temperate regions like those seen in San Diego, where you can see sea lions bobbing up and down at their enclosure.
Throughout the year there are art exhibits, performing arts shows, and cultural and community festivals to make science accessible to all visitors. Its Guest Speaker Series and Aquatic Academy courses offer visitors an opportunity to learn about ocean and environmental issues from the scientists.
When Should I Visit Long Beach?
With an average year-round temperature in the 70s (20s Celsius), there isn’t a bad time of year to visit Long Beach. To experience the city with fewer crowds, for the warmer weather, and with less chance of rain, is it best to visit between May and September.
Lodging rates are slightly higher between June and August, but you can find some great accommodation deals in the spring and the fall.
Throughout the year, the city has a large number of festivals and outdoor events. Some great events are:
- Long Beach Annual Sea Festival
- 4th July Celebrations
- Love Long Beach Festival
- Long Beach Crawfish Festival
- Uptown Jazz Festival
- Long Beach Pride
- Long Beach Seafood Festival
How To Get To Long Beach
The closest large airport to Long Beach is in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is located around 25 miles or just over 25 minutes (traffic dependent) from Long Beach. From there you can rent a car, or take a taxi into Long Beach.
Alternatively, Long Beach has a small, stress-free airport – Long Beach Airport (LGB), which serves a number of domestic routes via Southwest, Delta, American Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines. The airport was recently named one of the Top 10 Small Airports by USA Today.
Long Beach Long Weekend Itinerary
Long Beach is a great destination to visit for a long weekend, weekend, or week-long trip.
Here is a sample long weekend itinerary to give you an idea of what you can fit in and some must-visit restaurants and things to do.
Friday is a great day to arrive in the city for a long weekend break, either by flying into LAX or Long Beach Airport or driving, depending on your location and preferred mode of transportation. My favorite hotel to stay in Long Beach is Hotel Maya, which resembles a Caribbean resort on 14 acres of Long Beach coastline.
After settling in at the hotel, a great place to go for dinner and drinks on Friday night is District Wine, a wine bar with an outdoor fire pit and indoor lounges. The restaurant normally has a wine special, and the prosciutto bon-bons are a must-try.
Brunch is the perfect way to start a Saturday morning, and the Fuego restaurant in Hotel Maya is a great place to have brunch, with views of the city’s skyline across the water.
Saturday is a great day to take to the water and rent a boat on Alamitos Bay. Book a Duffy tour with Boathouse On The Bay; they even have the option to get food and drinks delivered to the boat or purchase them before you depart for your ride.
After an early afternoon on the water, head to Retro Row for some retail therapy. Retro Row (Fourth Street) is a great place to purchase quirky gifts, high-end retro furniture, vintage clothes, and other great stores. Don’t forget to pop into Oh La Vache to buy some cheese, or you can order a cheeseboard. Across the street from there is a wine bar called Art Du Vin, where you can eat your cheese and have a glass of wine, handpicked for you by a knowledgeable sommelier.
Lola’s Mexican Cuisine is a locally beloved restaurant in Retro Row if you get hungry after your wine bar experience. Alternatively, another great dining option is Parker’s Lighthouse, which has incredible views of the harbor, The Queen Mary, and the Lion Lighthouse.
BO-Beau kitchen + rooftap, is a perfect post dining nightcap location, with the choice of a plush lounge or upstairs there is a “rooftap.”
Start your morning at Lion’s Lighthouse, this is the perfect vantage point to look back over at Parkers Lighthouse and view the Queen Mary. There is nearby parking and it is a quick walk from the carpark out to the lighthouse.
Another day, another brunch location, this time one of the most famous brunches in the city – The Attic on Broadway which has incredible Bloody Mary’s and an extensive cocktail menu. The food is also delicious, with a mix of traditional southern favorites and unique additions such as MacNCheetos.
My favourite things on the menu are the beignets, the avocado toast and of course the mimosas!
A great Sunday afternoon activity is to take a walk along Belmont Shore, with unique stores, a beachfront walkway, or just simply spend some time relaxing on the beach. This is an excellent location to go shopping: some great stores are Cityology, the women’s boutique Elison Rd, the gift shop Luna, House of Intuition, and Blue Windows.
After your stroll it’s time to say goodbye to Long Beach.
Long Beach Guide Wrap Up
I hope you found this Long Beach guide helpful. If you have questions about Long Beach or tips for our readers, please leave these in the comments below!
And if you’re interested in visiting other areas in California, you can check out all our Californian articles for inspiration.
This article was part of a paid partnership with Visit Long Beach. As always all opinions expressed are our own and represent our experience.
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Long Beach, California. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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We Are Travel Girls Founder Becky van Dijk of BeckyvanDijk.com
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