20 Best Things to Do in Long Beach, CA

Long Beach, CA
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Long Beach is a coastal city in Southern California in the metropolitan region of Los Angeles.

This city has it all, from stunning beaches and waterfront adventures to chic shopping scenes and a diverse gastronomical spread!

While the waterfront adventures are charming, Long Beach is also home to the famous permanently docked RMS Queen Mary and Southern California’s largest aquarium – the Aquarium of the Pacific.

The city also hosts the Long Beach Pride Festival and Parade, the Grand Prix of Long Beach, and the Long Beach Marathon annually.

But beyond the waters of the harbor and its surrounding sights, this dynamic city also bears a quaint personality.

Quirky bistros, breweries, bakeries, and art cafes dot the city.

If you choose to visit Long Beach, there are many things that you can do.

Aquarium of the Pacific

Outside view of the Aquarium of the Pacific
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The Aquarium of the Pacific is Southern California’s largest aquarium.

Located along Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach, this impressive aquarium is a must-do activity for people of all ages.

The Aquarium houses over 11,000 marine animal exhibits dived into three water regions.

The Southern California Gallery has marine life found off the Catalina Island, the Seal and Sea Lion Habitat, and the Ray Touch Pool.

The aquarium in Aquarium of the Pacific
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The Northern Pacific Gallery exhibits include jellyfish, sea otters, and the largest octopus species in the world.

The Tropical Pacific Gallery holds thousands of colorful fish, corals, sea turtles, and sharks.

It also has a seahorse as well as a sea dragon exhibit.

The aquarium also organized several outdoor exhibits, educational programs, and interactive activities to get personal with marine life.

The latest Pacific Visions wing is a state-of-the-art exhibit educating visitors about the environmental challenges to the Pacific ecosystem.

Rancho Los Alamitos

The Rancho Los Alamitos is a historic preserved ranch located near the campus of California State University, Long Beach.

Over the course of its history, the rancho has been occupied by the Tongva people, Spanish and Mexican colonists, and American farmers.

You can explore this ranch's historic buildings and gardens, whose name literally translates to “Ranch of the Cottonwoods.”

Its barnyard is popular with tourists today.

The barnyard has been restored and is home to horses, goats, chickens, and rabbits.

Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)

Outside the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)
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The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) is America’s leading museum dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art and culture.

Established in 1996, the museum is located in Long Beach’s East Village Art District.

MOLAA has an impressive permanent collection of over 1,300 works of art and a 15,000-square-foot sculpture garden.

It offers visitors the opportunity to expand their knowledge and appreciation of Latin American history, art, and culture through its art exhibits, educational programs, cultural events, and other exhibitions.

Did you know that between 1913 and 1918, the place where MOLAA now stands belonged to the Balboa Amusement Producing Company?

It was the most productive and innovative silent film studio globally that produces as much as 20,000 feet of negative film in a week!

Today, MOLAA is a cultural and art hub that is definitely worth a visit.

East Village Arts District

East Village Arts District is what lends Long Beach its quirky and eccentric personality.

Known for its eclectic cafes, art studios, and specialty shops, you can spend an entire day here discovering some great art, music, and food.

You can head to the Berlin Bistro for some sumptuous, healthy, and innovative brunch options or dive into some pizza and beer in the apocalypse-themed pizzeria – The 4th Horseman.

East Village Arts District is also home to the Fingerprints Music record store.

You can find some great vintage and contemporary records here.

If you’re lucky, you may even be able to catch one of the secret concerts that the store holds!

RMS Queen Mary

Aerial view of RMS Queen Mary
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The RMS Queen Mary is a permanently docked retired British cruise liner in Long Beach.

She sailed primarily on the North Atlantic Ocean for the Cunard-White Star Line between 1936 and 1967.

During World War II, she was converted into a troopship to ferry Allied soldiers during the War.

Following World War II, the ship was refitted as a passenger ship for transatlantic voyages.

By the mid-1960s, she was aging and operating at a loss.

Consequently, she was retired from service in 1967 and is now permanently docked on the Long Beach waterfront.

The RMS Queen Mary is now a popular tourist destination with restaurants, museums, and hotels.

The hotel is recognized as part of the Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In 2021, the City of Long Beach took over the RMS Queen Mary to maintain the ship and make necessary repairs.

Marine Park (Mother’s Beach)

Aerial view of Marine Park (Mother’s Beach)
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Marine Park is a wonderful family-friendly destination in Long Beach.

Located in a beautiful marina, the Marine Park offers a range of outdoor activities.

There are picnic sites, a volleyball court, and a play area for children.

It has also earned the name ‘Mother’s Beach’ because of its gentle waves, shallow swimming area, and lifeguard supervision during peak periods.

Marine Park makes a great outing for your entire family with its clean beach and plays areas for children!

Belmont Shore Beach

Sunset in Belmont Shore Beach
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Belmont Shore Beach is another family-friendly beach that should be on your list if you are visiting with kids.

This sandy beach offers exciting opportunities for a range of water sports.

You can windsurf, jet-ski or water-ski.

Rentals are available on-site for those who don't have equipment.

And for those who prefer to spend a leisurely day at the beach, you can sunbathe at the shore or enjoy a cool and relaxing swim in the lagoons of Alamitos Bay.

The waters of Belmont shore are calm and gentle for kids too.

Children can enjoy their day building sandcastles or take a splash or a swim in the waters of Belmont shore.

The Exhibition Room

A false wall in a telephone booth in the restaurant Roxanne’s takes you through to The Exhibition Room.

A unique bar, the walls are filled with décor reminiscent of the city’s olden days as a port town.

The bar has a unique selection of cocktails aptly named to suit its theme.

You will need to make a reservation here that will give you a password to enter the bar.

Naples Island

Naples Island in Long Beach
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Modeled on the city of Venice in Italy, Naples in Long Beach is a beautiful community designed around an extensive and picturesque canal system.

This gives Naples a classic romantic vibe.

The community also has elegant homes, unique boutiques, and opportunities for fine dining.

You can even take a romantic ride in authentic Venetian gondolas in the canals of Naples.

Gondoliers will serenade you with their soulful voices!

The community also hosts its annual Boa Parade in December.

If you are in Naples in December, make sure to check out the colorful, decorated yachts and boats that cruise through the canals.

Second Street

Second Street is a 15-block entertainment district located in downtown Long Beach near Belmont Shore and Naples.

Second Street is a popular shopping and dining hub.

It is home to unique restaurants and cafes, boutiques, and specialty shops.

Its diverse clubs, pubs, coffee houses, and restaurants offer plenty of nightlife options for visitors.

The specialty shops, retailers, and boutiques on Second Street offer everything from swimwear and surfing apparel to the latest European fashion and jewelry trends.

Second Street also hosts the Belmont Shore Car Show, the largest one-day car show on the West Coast every September.

If you want to enjoy the finer things that Long Beach offers, you should definitely visit Second Street!

The Marketplace and Marina Pacifica Mall

The Marketplace and marina Pacifica Malls lie to the east of Belmont Shore and Naples.

These premier shopping destinations are open-air centers that house several fine-dining restaurants, specialty shops and boutiques, and movie theaters.

The Marketplace’s central waterscape makes an inviting ambiance to shop and dine in its various restaurants and boutiques.

The Marina Pacifica Mall has a number of nationally recognized retailers and smaller shops and restaurants.

These malls offer plenty of opportunities for some good retail therapy in Long Beach!

Harbor Breeze Cruises

Harbor Breeze Cruises in Long Beach, CA
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A top destination for whale watching and city tours, Harbor Breeze Cruises offers guided tours of the city.

You can learn about the waterfront's history and marine life as you cruise along the coastline.

Alternately, you can book a Southern Californian whale-watching tour to journey up close with some of the largest mammals on the planet.

The whale-watching tours are highly informative and exciting.

While on tour, you are sure to spot a Humpback Whale or a gray whale as it comes to the surface of the water.

If lucky, you may even be able to catch a sighting of a blue whale!

City Cruises by Hornblower

If you visit Long Beach to celebrate holidays on the oceanfront, City Cruises by Hornblower might interest you, as it offers a wide range of cruises for special events and festivities.

There are premier lunch, brunch, and dinner cruise packages for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.

These cruise packages are carefully crafted to provide you with a fabulous cruising experience.

Apart from the special city cruises, be sure to check out the guide cruise tours and whale-watching tours offered by Hornblower.

Captain Kirks

Captain Kirk’s Water Sports offers one-on-one professional guidance and lessons in kiteboarding, windsurfing, and paddleboarding for all watersports enthusiasts.

You can sign up for lessons with professional instructors or book rental equipment if you already have the skills.

You can also rent standup paddleboards, aqua bikes, kayaks, and surfing apparatus in Rainbow Marina.

Parker’s Lighthouse

Outside view of Parker’s Lighthouse
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A visit to Long Beach is incomplete without savoring its fresh seafood.

Home to a beautiful two-story wine cellar, Parker’s Lighthouse offers an exquisite fine dining experience in Long Beach.

It is known for its mesquite-grilled fresh seafood and spectacular views of the Long Beach Harbour from every table!

The restaurant has an extensive menu of innovative dishes made from the freshest of seafood.

The restaurant has been awarded the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence with an impressively extensive wine list.

Parker’s Lighthouse is also home to the Queensview Steakhouse, located on the third floor.

The Queensview Steakhouse is an upscale club offering live music and the finest steaks, chops, lobster, and grilled seafood.

Retro Row

If you are into some good vintage finds, Retro Row is the place for you!

This 3-block shopping neighborhood has one of the quirkiest collections of stores, boutiques, pubs, and coffee shops.

Here you will find some great deals on vintage clothes, kitschy collectibles, and off-beat souvenirs.

For more retro deals, you can head on over to Third Eye Records for some great vinyl or pick up some roller skates from Pigeon’s Roller Skate Shop!

But even if you aren’t here for the shopping, you can grab a beer or some coffee and enjoy the sights and sounds of the boulevard.

Gusto Bread

Gusto’s Bread in Retro Row has developed an almost cult following in Long Beach.

The founder is a self-taught baker whose delectable goods include freshly baked loaves, long breaks, biscuits, conchas, pies, and polvorones.

Head on over to Gusto Bread early as you may find a long queue here!

People wait in line just to savor these delicious goodies!

The Laugh Factory

Outside view of The Laugh Factory
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If you’re in the mood for some good stand-up comedy, then head on over to the Laugh Factory.

Opened in 2008 in Long Beach, this space has been rated as "the #1 comedy club in the country" by USA Today.

Its original predecessor in Hollywood opened its doors in 1979.

The Laugh Factory in Long Beach attracts some of the best talents in comedy today.

You can grab a drink and just sit back and enjoy some feel-good laughs after a long day in the city.

The Urban Hive Market

The Urban Hive Market is held every fourth Friday of the month.

The UHM is a community of small businesses and local artisans who gather to retail their carefully crafted and handmade wares.

Here you will find a wide variety of vendors selling unique and original finds.

There is also an organic farmer’s market and an artisanal food court to help you satisfy your cravings.

The UMH is much more than just a local artisanal marketplace.

It also curates some good art and music to help elevate your shopping experience!

If you are here on the last Friday of a month, do give this place a visit.

Pike Outlets

Outside Pike Outlets
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Long Beach’s Pike Outlets offer an all-around shopping experience.

These outlets have a number of retail stores and restaurants in a pedestrian-friendly setting.

You can walk through these outlets and browse through the various shops and popular brand stores, such as H&M, Nike, Converse, GAP, etc.

The outlets are also a good place to take an evening stroll with the family or spend the night with friends at a local pub.

The outlets also host the Urban Hive Market.

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