Long Beach, just a half an hour from Los Angeles, is a beachfront gem you’ll want to add to your California itinerary. Long Beach offers beautiful beaches and marinas along with a dining and shopping scene that blends big city with beach town fun.
Tour the Queen Mary or relax with a drink in the ship’s Observation Bar. For unique accommodations, you can even stay overnight in one of the ship’s staterooms or suites. Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, home to playful sea otters, Magellanic penguins, and a 350,000-gallon Tropical Reef Habitat, which holds thousands of colorful fish, coral, sea turtles, and sharks.
Whatever you’re looking for; a romantic weekend, a family reunion destination, or just a getaway with the kids, Long Beach has the food, fun, and sun for your next Southern California trip. Continue reading our Long Beach visitor’s guide and start planning your vacation today! Looking for the perfect beach? Visit a complete list of southern California beaches here.
Weather – When to Visit Long Beach
In Long Beach, the summers are short, warm, arid, and clear and the winters are long, cool, and partly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 48°F to 82°F and is rarely below 42°F or above 91°F.
Given California’s pleasant summer weather (with relatively low humidity), the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is high tourist season virtually everywhere — except for desert areas such as Palm Springs and Death Valley, where sizzling temperatures daunt all but the hardiest bargain hunters. Naturally, prices are highest at this time, and they can drop dramatically before and after that period. From late September to early December, crowds drop off, shoulder-season rates kick in, and winter rains have yet to start looming.
What Should You Pack?
When figuring out what to pack for the beach, there are two tips to keep in mind. First, forgetting an item isn’t the end of the world. Unless you’re heading for a remote, deserted island, chances are you can find a store where you can pick up the extras. Second, don’t stress out over making a packing list when there’s a stress-free beach travel essentials list for you below:
- Sunglasses and hats offer much-needed sunscreen and flip flops are perfect for navigating hot, sandy beaches. Go pack them now so you’re not kicking yourself later.
- What about those little items that make beach visits so much more enjoyable? For a little extra comfort on your trip, make sure you pack: Lip balm, sunscreen, bug spray.
- Beach toys and goggles are a must for kids. Building sandcastles and viewing the underwater wonders are perennial favorites.
- Take a first-aid kit with you. Hopefully you’ll only have to worry about a few minor scrapes from seashells, but having your own kit handy is a good precaution.
- Beach Bag – Your beach bag will likely contain a few of the items mentioned above. For a well-rounded bag, consider tossing in sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray, first-aid kit and water-proof baggies.
- Beach Gear – No matter who’s supplying the gear, look to have the following items on hand: beach bag, beach chairs, beach towels, beach umbrella or tent, beach cart and a cooler.
- Remember: Don’t wait until you’re parched to drink. When you’re out in the heat and sun, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking regularly. So take along a water bottle as well.
Long Beach Arrival Transfer
Avoid the hassle and headache of arrival and skip the public transportation with this LAX airport arrival transfer. Enjoy the ease of door-to-door service with a professional driver and comfortable minivan. Pre-purchase this shared transfer from the airport to your Long Beach or San Pedro hotel and kick your holiday or business trip off right. Read more about LAX Airport Shared Arrival Transfer to Long Beach or San Pedro
Long Beach Attractions
The Queen Mary
Explore the World War II-era cruise ship the ‘Queen Mary’ while in Long Beach. Step aboard this floating museum and take your time learning about the ship’s history, from alleged onboard paranormal activity to the art deco design. Get an in-depth look at the ship’s design, mechanics and history; choose from several ticket options to suit your schedule and budget. Read more about The Queen Mary
Aquarium of the Pacific
Located along Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor, the Aquarium of the Pacific is Southern California’s largest aquarium and a must-do Long Beach activity for all ages. Home to more than 11,000 animal exhibits, the aquarium explores three distinct waters of the Pacific Ocean. Save with the Go Los Angeles Card.
Boardwalk at Shoreline Village
Shoreline Village’s boardwalk is dotted with funky shops, family-friendly attractions, restaurants, and bars, all along the Shoreline Marina. There is a carousel, an arcade, and rentals for powerboats, Jet skis, electric boats, kayaks, sailboats, and more can be arranged right from the marina. The village also hosts live music on most summer weekends and during the Christmas season.
Naples Island is comprised of three islands in Alamitos Bay in Long Beach. When most people talk about visiting Naples Island, they are referring to the inner island, which is accessible by car. The island has a walkway that takes visitors past million-dollar mansions, picturesque bridges, and grand yachts, creating a beautiful setting for a sunset walk.
Every beach town has a main drag, and in Long Beach, that’s Second Street in Belmont Shore. This vibrant stretch is lined with sidewalk cafes, restaurants, and small boutiques overlooking the beach. Belmont Shore hosts a number of events throughout the year including a chocolate festival, a sidewalk chalk art festival, a pre-Grand Prix event, the Haute Dog Howl’oween Pet Parade, and a Christmas Parade.
Things to do in Long Beach
Whale & Dolphin Watching Cruise
Watch for whales and dolphins off Newport Beach aboard a double-decker catamaran with bow seating and 360-degree views. A diverse array of marine wildlife thrives in the protected area just outside Newport Bay, and you’ll have the chance to see humpbacks, gray whales, finback whales, blue whales, seals, and several species of dolphins. The boat has a 96% success rate spotting whales or dolphins, making this a great way to explore California wildlife in a gorgeous natural environment. Read more about Newport Beach Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise
City Tour of Los Angeles From Long Beach
Spend the day sightseeing in Los Angeles during this guided tour from Long Beach. With an expert local guide and a small group of fourteen people or less, see LA landmarks like the Hollywood Sign, Santa Monica, Venice Beach and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Follow your guide to filming locations of famous movies, explore Hollywood Boulevard and see one of the biggest ports in the US. This tour includes a balanced mix of guided tours and free time and includes round-trip transportation from Long Beach hotels. Read more about Small-Group Tour of Los Angeles from Long Beach and San Pedro
Catalina Island Helicopter Flight
Take in unforgettable views of Catalina Island on a 15-minute helicopter flight from Long Beach, and watch for whales and dolphins as you fly across the Pacific Ocean. Watch the island’s sheer cliffs appear on the horizon as your pilot narrates the changing scenery, capture aerial images of Catalina’s ocean side communities, then end your flight by touching down at the centrally-located Pebbly Beach Heliport. Read more about Catalina Helicopter Flight
Newport Beach Sunset Cruise
Watch the sun set into the Pacific Ocean on an evening cruise from Newport Beach, skimming across Newport Bay in a double-decker catamaran that makes for a smoother, more comfortable ride. The departure time is tailored to the sunset so you’ll see the California coast at its most scenic, as you pass the yachts and sailing ships that come out to catch the evening light. Buy a drink from the full-service bar, or simply enjoy views of Newport’s waterfront estates and glittering bay before returning to shore. Read more about Newport Beach Sunset Cruise
Downtown Long Beach Food Walking Tour
Enjoy the culinary delights of downtown Long Beach during this tasting tour. Sample a variety of the city’s best eats as you experience seven or more tastings (and sips) of foods like Greek ‘saganaki’ (flaming cheese), cold-pressed juice, and much more. All tastings and a ‘Long Beach Booklet’ with maps and coupons are included. An upgrade with additional alcohol pairings is also available. Read more about Downtown Long Beach Food Walking Tour
Go Los Angeles Card
Save $1,000 or more on dozens of top Southern California attractions, activities, eateries and stores with the Go Los Angeles™ Card. Use your Go Card in Los Angeles to save up to 55% on a variety of great activities and businesses, allowing you to explore at your own pace. You can purchase cards valid for between one and seven days. Read more about Go Los Angeles Card, with Access To Over 26 Top LA Attractions
Best Restaurants in Long Beach
Sura $11 – 30
Long Beach only has one real Korean restaurant, and it lucked out with Sura. Whether you want glossy-sweet grilled pork, spicy tofu soup in a gurgling stone pot or a rainbow of pickled banchan, Sura abides. A fusion menu added by the owner’s millennial children includes vegan tacos, bulgogi fries and more — all the better to help the pitchers of beer flow more freely. Telephone: 562-495-7872 Web: Sura
Roe Seafood $11 – 30
When a Oaxacan-German chef spends years cooking steak and seafood, you get Roe Restaurant, the Long Beach answer to Connie & Ted’s; come for chef Art Gonzalez’s sustainable seafood creations, stay for some of the best desserts in the city. Telephone: 562-546-7110 Web: Roe Seafood
Ellie’s $31 – 50
Chef Jason Witzl opened this corner bistro dedicated to handmade pastas, charred vegetables, and other Cal-Italian creations. Start with the $25 quarterie menu, which gives you three courses based around your choice of pasta. This is one chef you’ll want to trust. Telephone: 562-437-4837 Web: Ellie’s
Playa Amor $11 – 30
Critically acclaimed chef Thomas Ortega offers a sophisticated, playa-inspired menu of contemporary pocho and modern-Mexican cuisine with Baja-inspired classics like Puerto Nuevo lobster and grilled octopus get prepared with better ingredients and local diners in mind. Telephone: 562-430-2667 Web: Playa Amor
Robert Earl’s BBQ $11 – 30
Robert Earl started tossing meats into his homemade smoker and selling the results at the local farmers market a half-decade back. Robert Earls BBQ has exactly what you need. With award winning brisket, ridiculously tender ribs, and extraordinary macaroni & cheese Robert Earls BBQ makes for an unforgettable meal that will have you coming back for more every time. Telephone: 562-726-1116 Web: Robert Earl’s BBQ
Best Nightlife in Long Beach
Belmont Brewing Company
Only in Long Beach would Southern California’s oldest operating brewpub also be the city’s best oceanfront bar. Brewmaster Blackwell has been cranking out stellar craft beers since the mid-’90s and regulars always come in droves for BBC’s happy hour, where cheap pitchers and pizzas accompany sunset views. Telephone: 562-433-3891 Web: Belmont Brewing Company
Here you’ll find a Dodgers bar with a not-so-secret stock of top-shelf liquors at middle-shelf prices and bartenders who know how to use them in your new favorite drink. Alternately, you can order a PBR tall boy or Jack and Coke, and no one will bat an eye. Telephone: 562-606-2529 Web: Stache Bar
Shannon’s Bayshore Saloon
Shannon’s is an old-school Long Beach classic. It’s the bar that inspired the intro recording to the Sublime song “Badfish” and it continues to attract locals to its narrow wooden embrace, where the house drink, called “Shoot the Root”, includes a shot of root beer schnapps dropped into a tumbler of Coors Light. Telephone: 562-433-5901 Web: Shannon’s Bayshore Saloon
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing
When you feel like elevating your beer game, head to Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, which was most recently named Best Brewpub in the World. The brewery stocks dozens of its own award-winning beers along with guest taps that would make any beer bar weep. Telephone: 562-436-4020 Web: Beachwood BBQ & Brewing
By day, Prospector is a windowless steakhouse with creepy exterior paintings of miners and their wenches. By night, though, the kitchen closes down and it becomes a windowless steakhouse with creepy exterior paintings of miners and their wenches AND a dive bar that specializes in two things: cheap drinks and local music. Telephone: 562-438-3839 Web: Haskell’s Prospector
Best Long Beach Hotels
The Varden Hotel – Romantic
As you enter the “Historic-Chic” Varden Hotel of today, you will experience a European style boutique hotel full of history and contemporary design. Guest rooms all boast 9-foot ceilings, custom-made glass shelves and desks, flat screen HDTVs, designer lighting and furniture, and state of the art individual climate controlled heat and air conditioning. The Varden Hotel is the first European style downtown Long Beach boutique hotel, and it’s an experience you won’t want to miss. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit The Varden Hotel.
The Queen Mary – Luxury
Board the Queen Mary Hotel for an experience unlike any other. With its impressive history and tradition of excellence, the ship is more than just a place to rest one’s head. It’s also a place where you can take historic tours, see paranormal attractions, browse shops, enjoy a massage at the full-service spa, relax on the spacious sun deck or enjoy fresh seafood at Chelsea Chowder House & Bar. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit The Queen Mary.
Hotel Maya DoubleTree Hilton – Budget Friendly
The newly renovated Hotel Maya – a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel offers spacious guest rooms with a private balcony. Enjoy plush down pillows, pillow top mattresses, a 37-inch HDTV, and luxurious aromatherapy bath products. Relax in the deluxe swimming pool, where floating cabanas and fire pits emphasize the exotic design of the hotel. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Hotel Maya a DoubleTree Hilton.
Hyatt Regency Long Beach – Family Friendly
Offering breathtaking water, harbor, or city views, these stylish guestrooms and Long Beach suites feature chic ultra-modern décor with a comfortable residential feel. Sleep peacefully on our signature Hyatt Grand Beds® with crisp sheets, plush pillows, and down duvets. Enjoy the conveniences of home with large flat-screen TVs, iHome stereo with iPod® docking station, and a coffeemaker. Stay connected and productive at the oversized ergonomic work area with a Hyatt Plug Panel™. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Hyatt Regency Long Beach.
Hyatt Centric The Pike Long Beach Family Friendly
Their 138 spacious guestrooms and suites in Long Beach, CA are bright, modern and welcoming, with big windows, clean lines and contemporary furnishings. Designed to feel like a home away from home, all accommodations come with plush beds and crisp linens, a Cuisinart® coffeemaker, MP3 docking station, and a spacious work area. Flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi ensure that you stay connected, productive, and entertained. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Hyatt Centric The Pike Long Beach.