Long Beach, California is both one of America’s busiest ports and one of the West Coast’s top tourist draws. Located near Los Angeles, Long Beach is an extremely diverse city with tons of things to do, see, and, of course, eat. If you’re planning on visiting Long Beach in the near future, then you should definitely check this article out. Below, we’ll go over all the incredible things to do in Long Beach.
Main Things to Do in Long Beach
1. Step Aboard The Queen Mary
Any list of things to do in Long Beach must start with the Queen Mary. This huge ocean liner has become the un-official symbol of Long Beach over the past decades. Engineers in Clydebank, Scotland, began work on the Queen Mary back in 1930 and the ship took its first voyage in 1936. Sadly, WWII put a quick end to the Queen Mary’s pleasure cruises.
The Allies camouflaged this ocean liner and used it as a troopship during WWII. After the war, the Queen Mary started giving cruises again, but that all ended once air travel became more affordable. The Queen Mary’s last voyage was in 1967 into Long Beach, and she’s remained there ever since. Guests to the Queen Mary can learn even more interesting stories about this grand ship on one of many professional tours.
You can also stay in the Queen Mary’s hotel, dine at one of the Queen Mary’s exquisite restaurants, or even host a wedding here. You’ll find the Queen Mary docked at 1126 Queens Highway.
2. Book A Romantic Gondola Ride On Naples Island
Long Beach is a fabulous vacation destination for couples looking to get away from the stress of everyday life. The most romantic thing to do with your beloved here is to book a gondola ride around the nearby Naples Island. You’ll feel as if you’re traveling through the canals of Venice…well, sort of.
Naples Island has some of the wealthiest residents in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, so you’ll definitely see a few impressive properties as your gondolier leads you around. If you’re visiting Long Beach during Christmastime, you absolutely must take a tour of Naples Island. Residents of Naples Island tend to get really extravagant with their Christmas decorations.
3. Tour The Aquarium of the Pacific
One of the most popular things to do in Long Beach is to visit the massive five-acre Aquarium of the Pacific at 100 Aquarium Way. As you’d expect, most of the marine life in this aquarium come from the Pacific Ocean. About 11,000 different animals are split across three main sections: the Baja region, the Northern Pacific, and the Tropical Pacific. Probably the most popular exhibit here is the Shark Lagoon where you can actually pet a few sharks.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is now number one on TripAdvisor’s list of the top things to do in Long Beach. Well over one million people visit the Aquarium of the Pacific every year, and now it’s time for you to check it out for yourself!
4. Attending the Grand Prix of Long Beach
Do you have a need for speed? Can’t drive 55? If so, then you must schedule your Long Beach vacation during the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Begun in 1975, this IndyCar Series race holds the record for the longest running professional street race in all of America. Besides the race, there are plenty of family-friendly activities, concerts, and celebrity appearances over the course of this weekend-long event in April. To find out more information about next year’s Grand Prix, check out the festival’s official website.
Other Things to Do in Long Beach
5. Find Your Inner Zen At The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is considered one of the finest Japanese gardens in the USA. Local architect Edward R. Lovell drew inspiration for this garden’s design from his frequent trips to Tokyo’s Imperial Gardens. Formally dedicated in 1981, this Japanese Garden has a traditional teahouse on premises as well as several koi ponds.
A few special events that take place here include koi auctions and a chrysanthemum festival. Note, this garden is only open Tuesdays through Fridays from 8AM to 3:30PM and on Sundays from 12PM till 4PM. You can find this garden on the campus of California State University, Long Beach.
6. Sample Long Beach’s Diverse Array Of Cuisine
Thanks to its rich diversity, Long Beach has some of the most eclectic restaurants in the USA. Whether you’re in the mood for Mexican, Italian, French, Asian, or traditional American fare, you’re sure to find a highly reviewed restaurant in Long Beach.
A few budget eateries popular with locals include Long Beach Café, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, and Jongewaard’s Bake-n-Broil. For a fine dining experience, take a look at 555 East American Steakhouse, The Sky Room, and L’Opera Ristorante. No matter where you go, however, you’re sure to find something tasty on your trip to Long Beach.
7. Enjoy The Views At Signal Hill Hilltop Park
There’s no better place in Long Beach to take in majestic views of Orange County than on top of Hilltop Park. Hilltop Park is considered a part of Signal Hill, which is only a 15-minute drive north of the center of Long Beach. Although it’s a steep climb to the top of this hill, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Southern California. Many people plan their hike up Hilltop Park to coincide with the sunset. Hilltop Park’s specific address is 2351 Dawson Avenue, Signal Hill.
How to Get to Long Beach
While Long Beach Airport (LGB) is so much closer to Long Beach’s city center, people traveling here from out of state will most likely fly into Los Angeles International (LAX). Of course, if you can get a flight into LGB, it will save you a great deal of hassle. However, it’s only about an hour’s drive from LAX to Long Beach.
Anyone driving from LAX to Long Beach should start by heading Southeast on Post Way. Merge onto CA-1 S going towards I-105. You’ll then have to merge onto I-105 E toward Norwalk. Now merge onto I-405 S off of Exit 2 and stay on here for about 12 miles. Next, get onto I-710 S at Exit 32B and take Exit 1C towards Downtown Long Beach. Just follow the signs and you should be in Long Beach in no time.
Long Beach is a phenomenal vacation destination for families, foodies, couples, shop-a-holics, history buffs…heck, there’s something here for everyone! Hopefully this list of things to do in Long Beach has helped you plan your own exciting adventure to this city. You’re sure to have a spectacular time in this tourist-friendly area of Southern California.