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Getaway Guide: Long Beach, California
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Getaway Guide: Long Beach, California

Spend a weekend in Long Beach California to enjoy stunning coastal scenery, historical landmarks, and activities on land and sea.

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7 min read

November 03, 2022

Spend a weekend by the water at this quintessential SoCal getaway in Long Beach, California. Experiencing nearly 345 days of sunshine a year, and wintertime highs hovering between 67 to 73 degrees, the city is an idyllic destination no matter when you decide to visit. 

Nestled between the southern edge of Los Angeles and the coastal towns of Orange County, Long Beach was primarily known for having one of the busiest commercial seaports in the United States. Over the years, major revitalization efforts have shifted the formerly workaday city into a modern urban center on par with its glamorous neighbors. 

GETTING TO LONG BEACH

Arriving

Whether you want to spend a gal pal weekend or enjoy a romantic winter trip with your sweetheart, Long Beach California offers the big-city feels with the small-town charms. If you’re a SoCal resident planning an ocean-side getaway, jump in the car for a transitory road trip 30 minutes from Los Angeles and two hours from San Diego.

If you’re traveling from the Bay Area, a flight from Oakland or San Francisco International Airport will bring you directly to Long Beach in about an hour. As you set foot on this exotic terrain, you can either rent a car or a Lyft to bring you to your stay.

The Stay

Heading straight to one of the award-winning hotels in Long Beach California is the best way to kick off your weekend escape. Located in the downtown Marina and merely steps away from the aquarium, ferry dock, and the Pike Outlets entertainment district, Hyatt Regency Long Beach boasts views of the spectacular waterfront and marina. Take a quick check-in respite before lunch, and get ready for the day ahead. 

How to Spend the Day in Long Beach, CA

DAY 1

Afternoon

You don't only have to admire the Queen Mary from afar, you can actually book a memorable lunch or romantic dinner on the historical ship!

Lunch With The Queen Mary

After settling into your weekend casa, start your day trip to Long Beach by revving up your engine and heading out on the Pacific Coast Highway. Roll down your windows, turn up your radio, and let yourself slip into vacation mode as you enter downtown Long Beach. Embrace the warm rays shining down on your face and the invigorating coastal breeze flowing through your hair as you let the salt-kissed air and the picturesque setting fill your lungs. Continue cruising down Shoreline Drive to explore sights such as the legendary ocean liner - The Queen Mary. 

Permanently docked in Long Beach Harbor since 1967, the historic ship was the most luxurious one to ever set sail on the high seas in 1936. Aside from its lux scene, this glorious beast served as a troop-transport vessel during World War II. Today, it is depicted as a top historical landmark in Long Beach California, as well as one of its ambiguous haunted destinations. Pull over to spend time touring the ship, have a meal at the onboard restaurants, and even spend the night in one of the stately guest rooms and suites. If you visit before the end of the year, you can also experience the Queen Mary Christmas event, when the vessel transforms into a winter wonderland complete with holiday decor, an ice-skating rink, fun activities, and photo ops with Santa.

Aquarium of the Pacific has a glittering blue biomorphic structure that makes it identifiable from just about anywhere.

Aquarium of the Pacific

Right across the water from The Queen Mary, the world-class Aquarium of the Pacific awaits. With its recently completed Pacific Visions wing glorified by a glittering blue biomorphic structure, the place is easily recognizable. Check out the live animal exhibits, multimedia displays, the immersive theater, and art installations inside the main aquarium. Explore the enthralling examples of Pacific Ocean environments, from tropical reefs to California kelp forests, along with interactive exhibits on ocean conservation.

Boat Tour

Continue your adventure by joining a local boat tour with Harbor Breeze Cruises, which operates from the dock right outside the aquarium. The 45-minute harbor tours are great for a quick jaunt on the water to see the beauty of Long Beach from a different perspective. But a whale-watching tour will take you farther out on the ocean and give you the chance to spot gray and blue whales, dolphins, and numerous other marine animals.

Evening

Dinner and a Show

Before heading back to the comforts of your hotel, take a 15-minute stroll to arrive somewhere you can treat yourself to hearty American cuisine - The Ordinarie. Kick off the evening with some White Cheddar and Scallion Popovers dipped in honey-truffle butter from the Smalls section, and transition to mains as the Mussels smeared with pickled Fresno, fennel, and Italian sausages make their way to your table. If you still have some room spared, we recommend sealing the deal with a slice of Cherry Huckleberry Pie for a full-fledged Americano experience. As you arrive at your weekend home, it’s time to unwind and relax. Throw on your swimsuit and take a dip in the heated outdoor pool or whirlpool hot tub. Lounge in the perks of this superb resort, as you float away the first night at this magnificent destination.

How to Spend the Day in Long Beach, California?

DAY 2

Morning

Coffee and Breakfast

Pulling yourself out of bed and away from the view of the Pacific Ocean may be challenging, but Long Beach activities await. Grab a coffee and some avocado toast for a nutritious breakfast from a local coffee shop and head out to explore magnetic town. 

Long Beach Museum of Art

Named one of America’s most walkable cities, the city is bound to be explored on foot. Jump-start the day with some history and culture at this national landmark. Starting from the north end of Bluff park, check out the Long Beach Museum of Art nestled in the century-old summer home. Enjoy fantastic vistas of the ocean as you admire the decorative art exhibits from the early twentieth century. Though most of the artwork on display is from the museum's permanent collection, it also features rotating works by regional and national artists.

Bluff Park in Long Beach offers fluffy green-grass gardens and scenic views for the entire community to use - such as for group yoga.

Bluff Park

Continue your day as you make your way to Bluff Park. Situated between Ocean Avenue and the Pacific Ocean, this park is one of the most scenic places in Long Beach California. Used as an active military space during WWII, you’ll find stands of conceptual information, as well as the Memorial of Lone Sailor commemorating the city’s naval history. Embrace the 13 acres of this linear park as the vibrant green grass and the ocean view forge into one of the most fun things to do in Long Beach. Combine the long-distance view of Junipero Beach with the invariant sea breeze, gently swooping in the serenity of a sunny day.

Afternoon

Picnic at Bixby Park

Let the sunny day activities roll from Bluff Park to Bixby Park. Once part of Rancho Los Alamitos, the park is a 17-acre public space encompassing numerous historic and modern attractions. Whether you’re opting for a vigorous barbeque at the pits or a simple pitch-blanket picnic, grab your craved sustenance and head to the 1st and 2nd streets. With all the amenities at hand, enjoy a fun afternoon in the grasslands of this historic space while you take your time exploring the area. You’ll be surprised to find the historic bandshell from the 1920s, which is still used for the famous Iowa Picnics.

Long Beach Waterfront

After the cheerful outdoorsy fun, take a four-minute drive to the Long Beach waterfront. Previously home to a massive amusement park, a Ferris wheel remains in front of the Laugh Factory along with a pedestrian pathway resembling a roller coaster. Most of the hustle and bustle is now found in the redeveloped Rainbow Harbor. Anchored by the marina-adjacent shops and restaurants at Shoreline Village, this area is a convenient spot to enjoy a leisurely stroll and partake in some family-friendly fun. Plunge into adrenaline-inducing arcade games, ride an antique carousel, rent a bike, take photos, and grab gifts or souvenirs. Don’t forget to stop and take in the mesmerizing sunset and admire the views of The Queen Mary docked just across the way. 

Evening 

Explore the various canals of Naples, Long Beach, as the idea of living in little Europe subtly sneaks in to your imagination.

Naples

End the day in the Italian-style neighborhood of Naples. While it’s decidedly more Southern Californian than Neapolitan, this destination is definitely worth a visit. Leave your troubles behind as you embark to explore the various canals on a Long Beach gondola ride. Perfect for a romantic date for two or a wine-and-cheese night experience with your friends, you cannot come to Long Beach without experiencing a dreamy gondola ride. 

For the most memorable experience, we recommend getting here by boat. Long Beach’s public transit system includes water transportation - why shouldn’t it? Hop on a $5 fair shuttle to catch a boat ride around town from Rainbow Harbor to Alamitos Bay Landing, where you’ll find Naples and a little slice of Italy. 

Dinner at Michael’s on Naples

After exploring the community, continue the Italian vibes with an authentic, elegant meal at the highly acclaimed Michael’s on Naples. Request a table out on the rooftop patio to fully savor the relaxed Long Beach ambiance along with a superb dinner. The seasonally driven menu changes frequently but always highlights fresh hyperlocal ingredients. Relish on the purely in-house cuisine, starting from the various kinds of pasta and sauces, to the mozzarella, and gelato. Order most dishes à la carte, but if you’re feeling adventurous, opt for the Chef’s Tasting or the Pasta Tasting menu. Either way, it’ll be an evening to remember—and one that will leave you longing to return to Long Beach in the future.

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