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Posted by on Aug 3, 2014 | 27 comments

36 Hours In Long Beach, California

I think I’ve found a new place to love in southern California – Long Beach. I was only there for about 36 hours, but what I saw, I liked, and wished I had a little more time to explore. Were I considering moving to the Los Angeles County area, I’d give Long Beach a closer look.

For tourists looking for a southern California beach experience that also offers history, culture, museums, and good food, without the traffic and crowds of other beach destinations, Long Beach is a great choice.

36 Hours in Long Beach, California @PennySadler 2014

What I liked about Long Beach: it’s easy to navigate, there’s a friendly, casual beach vibe, art deco architecture, eclectic neighborhoods, the pretty harbor, a diverse ethnic population, and close proximity to Los Angeles and Orange counties.

With a population of approximately 500,000, Long Beach is the seventh largest city in California. It’s a lot smaller than Los Angeles, but still large enough to have a thriving music, art, and culture scene.

It’s also a city of festivals, so you’ll want to check the website for the city of Long Beach to see if there’s something that tickles your fancy when you’re visiting.

COOL THINGS TO SEE IN LONG BEACH

The Queen Mary

Without a doubt, the top tourist attraction in Long Beach, the Queen Mary offers visitors a peek into another era, when steamships were the most elegant way to travel. At the time of her completion and maiden voyage in 1936, the Queen Mary was considered the most beautiful and stately ship in the world.

In 1967, The Queen Mary made her last voyage to Long Beach, California, where she has become a beloved historical landmark and popular hotel.

Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA @PennySadler 2014

There is quite a selection of educational and unusual tours available on the Queen Mary, from a basic tour of the highlights of the ship, to an after dark paranormal experiences tour which I will tell you more about in future article (I don’t want to spoil it now). This tour is getting a lot of national attention, so if ghost busting is one of your interests, be sure sign up for this tour.

36 Hours Long Beach, Calif. @PennySadler 2014

Another popular tour is the Princess Diana Tour. For Anglophiles this is a must do. The extensive collection includes over 2,000 artifacts including clothing, personal letters, dolls and collectables. It includes information not only on the life of Princess Diana, but a history of the Royal Family from Queen Mary forward. Allow at least an hour to see this exhibition.

long beach, california @PennySadler 2014

Queen Mary
1126 Queens Hwy.
www.queenmary.com

The Aquarium of the Pacific

Educating and entertaining visitors about the Pacific Ocean and its inhabitants, this isthe fourth most attended aquarium in the U.S. The Aquarium of the Pacific offers over 50 exhibits, many of them interactive. It is conveniently located on Rainbow Harbor in downtown Long Beach.

100 Aquarium Way
www.aquariumofthepacific.org

 

Whale Watching

Nature’s largest mammal, the blue whale, migrates each summer up the coast of California. Long Beach is a great place to jump on one of the many excursion boats that allow you to observe these magnificent creatures.

I was a guest on a tour with Harbor Breeze Charters one afternoon. We were only about a half hour or so out from the harbor when we saw a blue whale, and while heading back, a pod of hundreds of playful dolphins. This was a first for me and it really was as awe-inspiring as I had imagined it would be.

The tour takes about 3 hours total. Aside from seeing the animals, it was refreshing just being out on a boat in the open sea. If you have a chance, I’d highly recommend it. Harbor Breeze also offers several other tour options, so have a look at the website to see what’s available.

Postcard Long Beach California @PennySadler 2014

Harbor Breeze is adjacent to the aquarium.
100 Aquarium Way, Dock #2
www.longbeachcruises.com

The Grand Prix

The annual Toyota Grand Prix is a street race held every April in Long Beach. It attracts over 200,000 visitors each year. Book well in advance.

www.gplb.com

The Pike

If you’re looking for entertainment and a variety of restaurants close to the waterfront,
The Pike at Rainbow Harbor is a 369,000 square foot waterfront entertainment district located in downtown Long Beach, between Long Beach Entertainment and Convention Center and the world-class Aquarium of the Pacific. With a variety of restaurants, entertainment venues, a Ferris wheel, and open-air marketplace, The Pike is one of the most unique waterfront locations on the West Coast.

Postcard Long Beach California

Shopping

Visit the 4th Street Neighborhood, also known as Retro Row. Featured in the New York Times and Los Angeles Magazine, 4th Street features stores that offer vintage and contemporary clothing, furniture & accessories, art, antiques and collectibles, books, roller skates & skate boards, as well as locally owned restaurants, coffee shops, and wine bars. Adding to the retro vibe of the street is the restored 1920’s Art Theatre, which hosts a mix of first-run and art films, live concerts & comedy, and other unique events.

www.4thstreetlongbeach.com

Iguana Imports

The Iguana carries quite a mix of furniture, folk art, gifts and jewelry, all imported. A great place to find a gift or something new to spruce up your own digs it’s located on E. Broadway, and has been in the neighborhood for over ten years.

Iguana Imports Long Beach, CA

3400 E. Broadway
www.iguanaimports.com

DINING

I tried out a recommended breakfast spot called Pot Holder Cafe. They have a huge menu and are open for lunch as well as breakfast. Very casual atmosphere and good service and reasonably priced.

Pot Holder Cafe
3700 E. Broadway
www.thepotholdercafe.com

On a whim, I pulled into a place called The Attic for dinner. Also located on E. Broadway, it’s an old house that’s been converted to a restaurant. The menu is southern comfort food, updated. Think buttermilk fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, and chicken pot pie. Growing up in Texas, I’m very familiar with this type of food, so opted for a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp, which was savory and delicious.

Long Beach, California

There is dining outside as well as inside, and The Attic is pet friendly. At 6:30 p.m. on a Monday night there was a bit of a line outside, but service was quick. Patrons appeared to be mostly neighborhood people – to me, the sign of a good restaurant.

The Attic on Urbanspoon

The Attic
3441 E. Broadway
www.theatticonbroadway.com

Long Beach Harbor

Only 30 minutes south of Los Angeles
, and thirty minutes west of Orange County, Long Beach is a great destination in itself, and a good place to take day trips to other points of interest in southern California.

To get there fly into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), rent a car and drive south – or you can fly directly into Long Beach Airport, (LGB).

27 Comments

  1. I am planning a cross-country trip next fall and this has to be included! Thank you so much for this review!

    • Hey Rena, really glad to hear it inspired you. Let me know if you go.

    • Such an ideal location lots to do there and then there’s LA only 30 minutes away.

  2. Amazing! And I had no idea the Queen Mary was still intact. My great-uncle Robert Beaufin Irving was her captain starting in 1937…and then became Commodore of the Cunard White Star Fleet.

    Now I really want to go to Long Beach….

    • A lot of people don’t know about the Queen Mary. She is really interesting and worth seeing if you are in the area. I’d recommend an overnight stay and exploring Long Beach. Fun city!

  3. You went to The Attic and didn’t get one of their famous loaded Bloody Mary’s? Although your post seems to be the family friendly approach to visiting Long Beach, so maybe it wasn’t appropriate. Anybody else thinking about visiting Long Beach should also make a trip to Belmont Shore for more eating and shopping! And if you’re going to The Pike (not to be confused with The Pike Bar (on 4th Street)), meander on over to Shoreline Village for (everybody now) eating and shopping.

    • Hi Jim, Thanks for the great tips. The people sitting next to me ordered those Bloody Mary’s and they did look great. I didn’t have one though because I had to drive from Long Beach to the San Fernando Valley after dinner. Next time I will definitely go to Belmont Shore.

  4. I had no idea you could see blue whales off the coast of California. Thanks for the great wrap-up of things to do in Long Beach.

    • HI Mary, quite a few people were surprised by this. Glad I could shed some light. Hope more people will check it out!

  5. Great post, and Thx for stirring up some memories for me! We actually stayed on the Queen Mary many years ago on our last visit to Long Beach. Time for a return visit!

  6. Wow, never knew that there are some many things to do and see in Long Beach California! I will let you know if I am heading there ;)

  7. I can see why you would want to be based here. So many things to do! And I would love to do the paranormal experience tour!

    • If you go to Long Beach let me know and I will be happy to help. It was interesting. Can’t wait to finish sorting through my notes and recordings.

  8. Penny, loved reading about my hometown. But you should have seen the Pike when I was a teenager: it was the home of a famous, rickety old wooden roller-coaster (source of a few deaths), crazy carnival rides, tattoo parlors and bars. I loved it! It was where we suburban kids went to be bad. Or where we wanted to be bad. Glad you had fun in LB.

    • Hi Tom, thanks! Yes, the Pike looks pretty cleaned up these days. Sounds fun though!

  9. You certainly put in the legwork on this post, Penny. Impeccably researched, as always. And lovely photos.

  10. Glad you loved Long Beach! I lived there for a few years before and during grad school and spent many an hour studying in those 4th St. coffee shops! Some other favorite spots are the Museum of Latin American Art, the large Cambodian community and restaurants centered around Anaheim Street, and the Belmont Shore neighborhood.

  11. Penny you know how to pack a punch in travel. With only 36 hours you accomplished so much, wow! I love the sound of The Attic and their menu.

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