As a former resident of downtown Long Beach for four years, I’ve always felt like LB never fully gets its due when it comes to how much the city has going on.
For many Angelenos, taking a trip down the 710 seems a bit out of the way to put it in range of consideration, but the truth is there is much to enjoy in the area that make it worth drive, with fun activities ranging from signature attractions like the aquarium or the Queen Mary, to annual staples like the Grand Prix or even just everyday hang-out spots, gardens, parks, museums, and venues.
So without further introduction, let’s take a look at some of the best of the best of the things you can do in Long Beach.
1. The Aquarium of The Pacific
The Aquarium of the Pacific is the fourth most-attended aquarium in the nation, displaying some 11,000 animals in over 50 exhibits that showcase the amazing biodiversity of the Pacific Ocean. You can usually find some discounts for admission via our friends at Goldstar, plus there are also discount combo packs for AAA members and tickets to ther area attractions, so be sure to shop and compare before you get your tickets.
2. Shoreline Park & Shoreline Village
Adjacent to the aquarium is Shoreline Park, a grassy peninsula where you can take stroll with an amazing view of the Queen Mary or have a family picnic, or even just hang out in the shade under the (fake) lighthouse. Across the harbor you’ll find shopping, dining, and a walkable pier, and many seasonal events that are all part of Shoreline Village.
More information (Shoreline Park)
More information (Shoreline Village)
3. The Queen Mary
Since being decommissioned in 1967 and finding its permanent home in city of Long Beach, the Queen Mary has transitioned into a floating hotel and one of the most iconic attractions and event venues in the entire city. Whether you want to take a tour to learn about the unique history of the amazing vessel or venture out for one of the seasonal events like CHILL or Dark Harbor, the Queen Mary is well worth a visit at least once.
4. Moonlight Movies on The Beach
The Moonlight Movies on the Beach is a FREE annual outdoor film screening series that takes place in Belmont Shore on Granada Beach starting each June and ending around the middle of August. The 2015 lineup included classics such as Goonies, The Sandlot, Jaws, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
5. Bixby Knolls Art Walk
Every first Friday of the month you can come to the Long Beach neighborhood of Bixby Knolls for an evening event focused on promoting local businesses, artists and musicians through extended operating hours and family-friendly activities. Takes place on Atlantic Ave from Bixby Rd to San Antonio Dr, regularly scheduled for 6:30pm-9:30pm on the first Friday of every month.
6. Earl Burns Japanese Garden
This 1.3 acre Japanese Garden on the campus of Cal State Long Beach offers a tranquil respite in beautiful maintained environment. Best part? Admission to the garden is free (but mind the cost of permitted parking on campus).
7. Walking Tours of Downtown Long Beach
Every third Saturday of the month the Long Beach Heritage nonprofit offers a walking tour exploring the historic architecture of the greater downtown LB area.
8. Long Beach Symphony
2015-2016 will represent the 81st season The Long Beach Symphony has been active. The LBSO annually produces six Classical concerts at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center Terrace Theater and five POPS! concert events in the Long Beach Arena, along with series of free music concerts in multiple locations throughout the City of Long Beach.
Located in the East Village Arts District of Long Beach, The Museum of Latin American Art pursues a mission to “expand knowledge and appreciation of modern and contemporary Latin American art” with features including a 15,000 sq. ft. sculpture garden and and an expanded permanent collection, rotating exhibitions, educational programs, and unique cultural events.
Founded in 2010, the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM) showcases the diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands through a permanent collection of works, along with educational programs, rotating exhibits, and living arts. It’s right across the street from MOLA (and there’s no dedicated parking lot for PIEAM) so you might want to consider doing both in the same day. Admission if $5 for adults.
11. Rosie’s Dog Beach
Rosie’s four-acre space is the the only off-leash dog beach in L.A. County. Keep in mind only one dog is permitted per adult so if you’re bringing a pack of dogs, you’ll need a pack of humans too!
[RELATED: The Best Dog Parks in Los Angeles]
12. El Dorado Park
El Dorado Park is one of Long Beach’s largest green spaces, set along the San Gabriel River just west of the 605 freeway. Ameneties include a 100-acre nature center, disc golf course, outdoor archery range, baseball/softball field, basketball court, community center, physical fitness course (12 stations), barbecue and picnic areas, playground, roller hockey court, skate park, soccer fields and volleyball courts. Keep in mind there is a variable entrance fee for all vehicles entering the park ($5 Monday through Thursday; $6 Friday: $7 Saturday and Sunday; and $8 on Holidays)
13. Hilltop Park
Nestled near the apex of the Signal Hill portion of Long Beach, just provides an excellent panoramic view of Long Beach, Ranchos Palos Verdes, and a long-shot view of DTLA. Parking is free in the surrounding neighborhood.
14. The Catalina Express
The Catalina Express does actually what it sounds like it would… it offers year-round transport service to Catalina with three departure points, including Long Beach harbor. Special note: If you arrange to take the express on the date of your birthday your passage is free!
15. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
L.A. County’s largest street race takes place in downtown Long Beach each April and the three-day weekend event includes car showcases, a celebrity race, music, food, and featured IndyCar event on the third and final afternoon.
16. Long Beach Museum of Art
The Long Beach Museum of Art includes a rotating exhibit of 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th century ceramics, plus ever-changing exhibitions that have in the past included local artists, urban art, murals, sculptures and rotating pieces from their permanent collection. Admission is normally is $7, but it’s free every Friday!
17. Long Beach Antique Market
On the third Sunday of every month Long Beach’s premier flea market hits Long Beach Veterans Stadium featuring over 800 sellers hocking a massive selection of antiques and collectibles. General admission is $6, early admission is $12. Parking is free!
18. Long Beach Crawfish Festival
A Long Beach summer tradition for over two decades, this is one of the largest crawfish festivals in the United States outside of Louisiana.
19. The Laugh Factory
If you’re looking for a top-level comedy venue to check out in Long Beach, the Laugh Factory is your spot. Just keep in mind shows come with a two drink/item minimum.
20. The Grand Sand Sculpture Contest
The annual Grand Sand Sculpture Contest (now more than 80 years running!) takes place at Granada Beach over two days each August and features live music plus some of the most amazing sand art and sculptures you’ll ever see.
21. Dominguez Gap Wetlands
Originally built as a flood control zone for the LA River, the Dominguez Gap Wetlands offers a easily accessible 2.3 mile loop around a small wildlife habitat that gives visitors a great option for getting a touch of nature in the heart of an otherwise urban landscape.
22. Heartwell Park
Just north of the Long Beach airport along a lengthy 3-block stretch of Carson St. you’ll find Heartwell Park, which includes 122.5 acres of landscaped park grounds, a fishing pond, bike/skate path, fitness course, picnic areas, basketball courts, baseball fields, and a roller hockey court. One of the finest park/rec areas in all of Long Beach.
What are some things to do in Long Beach you might recommend? Let us know your suggestions in the comments below!