Located in the southern part of Los Angeles County, Long Beach is a scenic waterfront city. It is only 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is the seventh-most populous city in Southern California and is home to over 400,000 people.
Long Beach is known for being an enchanting tourist spot. It has several waterfront attractions. The two leading spots to visit are the Aquarium of the Pacific and the RMS Queen Mary. The Aquarium showcases many animals, and not just fishes that live in the Pacific. The Queen Mary is a legendary cruise ship.
One Half of the Seaside Gateway for Los Angeles
While the city of Los Angeles has its port, right beside it is the Port of Long Beach. Primarily a container port, it handles much of the Asian trade that California receives. The port itself has a long history of operating. It started life in 1911 and eventually became the home of the US Pacific Fleet. They moved out in the late 90s but the seaport is still doing big business. It employs more than 300,000 people and earns $100 billion a year.
It Started as a Seaport
The region around Long Beach is very much a favorite for anyone planning any seaside activities. The perfect location made it the ideal port and that was its beginning. While people lived in the area long before the city’s incorporation in 1987, it only officially became a city on that date. The initial focus was on the port but developments like the discovery of oil in the area changed it greatly. In the latter half of the century, the city transitioned away from oil and focused on tourism. It is now a major tourist spot, while still a seaport.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is a must-see
One of the big attractions of Long Beach is the Aquarium of the Pacific. It occupies five acres on the Rainbow Harbor and showcases the wildlife of the entire Pacific. Yes, it is wildlife since the exhibits there go beyond the aquariums. While the main displays are the various aquatic Pacific marine life, there are two special areas. One is the Lorikeet Forest, an aviary, and the other is the June Keyes Penguin Habitat. A trip to the Aquarium can be a great time for the family. It is also very educational.
Go back Into the Luxurious Past with the Queen Mary
The age of luxury liners is long over. While people still take cruises, taking a ship from one country to another is out of style. People travel by air now. However, the luxury liners of the past still have a presence. The legendary RMS Queen Mary is still operational but is not sailing anymore. Docked permanently in Long Beach, the ship is now a floating museum and hotel, with some fancy restaurants. For those looking to taste a bit of the luxury of the old days, then a stay on the Queen Mary is a good choice.
Excellent Greenery in the Middle of an Urban Sprawl
While the beach dominates the city, there are a couple of areas of green that will help relax anyone. One location is Bluff Park. Unlike normal sprawling parks, it is linear right beside the beach. It provides 13 acres of scenic beach viewing, without the sand. The other green place in Long Beach is the El Dorado East Regional Park. It is the largest in the city and a quiet location for a picnic or a jog. Bring your dog along so you can have fun in the dog park or the kids can have fun in the many playgrounds.
A Race to Get the Heart-Pounding
A big event for the city of Long Beach is its Grand Prix. Now known as the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach because of naming rights, this race clears out the city streets for an impressive test of speed. The race is the longest-running street race in North America. It is a three-kilometer street race that challenges drivers with impressive hairpin turns. Racers will have to go through 85 laps to finish it. Overall, this event attracts around 200,000 people to the city, making it the biggest tourist draw every year.
Museums and Streets Full of Art
Long Beach is also a haven for the arts. The city has an excellent reputation for street art, with artists decorating the sidewalks and streets with their creations. There are also several museums where people can visit art formally. The Long Beach Museum of Art should be the first stop since it has a permanent collection of over 4,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and more. Those who want to look at more ethnic art can drop by the Museum of Latin American Art. Its main claim to fame is that it showcases 20th-century art from Latin America.
Walking with Pride
The second-biggest event in Long Beach is the annual Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade and Festival. It started back in 1984 and returns every year. The average number of participants reaches over 100,000 people. The high attendance makes this parade the third largest gay pride event in North America. It usually takes place in May or June, but the non-profit that runs it operates all year round to gain funding and donate to other LGBT+ causes. More than 200 floats participate in the parade since 1995. The event is looking to grow even more in the future.
A Place of Learning
Long Beach is home to the largest university in California by enrollment. The California State University, Long Beach campus may have the most students but is still the second-largest campus in the system. The 322 acres accommodate the thousands of students that enroll every year. The university has a solid reputation for turning out some very famous students in the arts. For example, Steven Spielberg is one noted alumnus, while the Carpenter siblings are another. Another thing that the campus is known for is its unique architecture, with the Walter Pyramid being a constant topic of conversation.
Going on the Water
Exploring Long Beach is incomplete without a trip out on the water. Visitors have a variety of choices for their aquatic adventures. They can take a gondola trip out in Naples. The small community is full of canals which allow for gondola trips across the entirety of the area. Those who are more adventurous could take a trip out to Catalina Island. It is an excellent day trip to explore this small scenic spot with fine ocean-side dining available. Long Beach is also the birthplace of North American surfing so visitors can try to ride the waves with some help.
Lazy Beach Time
Those who don’t want to go far can enjoy some sun on the Long Beach seaside locales. The most popular is Junipero Cherry Beach. It has a convenient location of being right beside Bluff Park. It is a big beach and a popular activity is to walk the entire length. For those who don’t have the legs for it, there are concrete walkways that allow those on bicycles or vehicles the chance to experience it. Don’t leave your pets out of the fun by bringing them to Rosie’s Dog Beach. This sandy dog park connects to Junipero in the south.
Delicious Meals for Every Taste
Like any place in California, there are a lot of cuisines to experience. The Downtown area has a wide selection so take a food crawl during one night to devour what they have. For more specific fare, there are some highlights in the city. A trip to the Queen Mary will allow you to eat some high-quality seafood. Those who like fine dining will appreciate it Asian cuisine lovers should visit Cambodia Town. The cuisine from that part of Asia doesn’t get the attention it deserves. There is nothing like a Cambodian breakfast to wake you up.
Feel the Ranching Life
While the sea is the main focus of Long Beach, it is still in California and part of the Wild West. Ranches were a dominant part of the early landscape of the state. Long Beach had ranches first before the port. Rancho Los Alamitos keeps that tradition alive. Visitors often call the place a hidden gem considering its focus on preserving the area’s history.
Buy at a Discount
Finally, visitors can bring home a souvenir with a visit to the Long Beach Antique Market. Held monthly, people can find some great bargains here. With 800+ vendors present, there is sure to be something for everyone. People should arrive early to get a good deal since there will be a lot of competition for bargains. Whether it is antique furniture or something small like jewelry, customers will be sure to find some on a shopping trip here.