It was once the epicenter of the silent film industry, another time a U.S. Navy town. And today, Long Beach is undergoing another transformation. The Southern California port city, located about 30 minutes south of downtown Los Angeles, is emerging as a tourist destination, with boutiques, museums, dining and, of course, the beach. But beyond the sand, here’s what to do.
Where to go
Long Beach has a thriving arts scene, and it’s not just indoors. The city’s East Village neighborhood is known for its impressive street art murals, both abstract and traditional. The area is also home to one-of-a-kind boutiques, like MAKE Collectives (430 E. First St., 562-612-0089, makecollectives.com), which sells records, clothing, accessories and home goods.
For more shopping, head east and take a stroll down Fourth Street, aka “Retro Row,” which is packed with vintage stores like In Retrospect (2122 E. Fourth St., 562-433-6600, inretrospect.co) which sells vintage furniture, clothing and housewares.
Celebrate artists like Frank Romero, Frida Kahlo and Luis Tapia at the Museum of Latin American Art (closed Mondays and Tuesdays, admission $10, $7 seniors and students, FREE under 12; 628 Alamitos Ave., 562-437-1689, molaa.org), which collects and showcases art from the Latin diaspora.
Take a step back in time aboard the Queen Mary (tour ticket prices vary; 1126 Queens Highway, 877-342-0738, queenmary.com), a 1930s transatlantic steamer that in its heyday hosted the likes of Winston Churchill and Clark Gable before being used as a troopship during World War II.
For a family-friendly option, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Aquarium of the Pacific (admission $42.95, $39.95/seniors, $33.95/ages 3-11; 100 Aquarium Way, 562-590-3100, aquariumofthepacific.org). Guests get a close-up view of the aquarium’s massive saltwater tank, learn how the museum breeds krill and other small fish for the wildlife and more.
Where to eat
Parkers’ Lighthouse (435 Shoreline Village Drive, 562-432-6500, parkerslighthouse.com) serves locally caught seafood like grilled swordfish in a historic former lighthouse, with wraparound views of Long Beach’s harbor.
In a nod to the city’s shipping port history, SteelCraft (3768 Long Beach Blvd., steelcraftlb.com), a communal dining space that’s home to several vendors, is made up entirely of converted shipping containers. Have a pint of one of the locally brewed beers from Smog City Brewing and a fried egg-topped cheeseburger from Pig Pen.
Casual eatery Bo-Beau (144 Pine Ave., 562-983-0056, cohnrestaurants.com/bobeaukitchenrooftap) serves California-French comfort food and has nearly 50 beers on tap in its upstairs beer garden.
Where to stay
The Queen Mary also doubles as a hotel (1126 Queens Highway, 877-342-0742, queenmary.com), with dining, a spa and fitness center onboard. Most rooms, naturally, have views of the harbor.
Stay downtown at the Renaissance Hotel (111 East Ocean Blvd., 562-437-5900, renaissance-hotels.marriott.com), which is within walking distance of the Aquarium of the Pacific, restaurants and shops.