Long Beach, CA Travel Guide

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Best Things To Do in Long Beach, CA

Of course, Long Beach has its fair share of golden sand beaches and waves to ride, but there's a lot more to this seaside city than just the beach.

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Of course, Long Beach has its fair share of golden sand beaches and waves to ride, but there's a lot more to this seaside city than just the beach. There are museums for art lovers, amusement parks for families and little snippets of history and culture around each corner. You'll also find plenty of daytrips and excursions from the area, especially with beautiful Catalina Island just a quick boat ride away. A wide variety of restaurants to choose from and luxurious hotels will be the cherry on top of your Southern California vacation.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated September 24, 2020

  • #1
    Things to do in Long Beach, CA
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    #1 in Long Beach, CA
    Beaches, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    While there are miles of shoreline in the Long Beach area, not all beaches are made equal. There's Alamitos, which is easily accessed from the downtown area and close to hotels. There's Rosie's Dog Beach, which is a great place to bring your furry friends. However, a crowd favorite is Junipero Beach – also called Cherry Beach – which stretches along the Bluff Park area.

    This strip of coastline begins where Alamitos Beach ends. At Junipero, the high rises that back Alamitos are replaced with the more residential communities of Bluff Park. Here, the sand is soft and waves are calm, making it an ideal place for families. Because the sand area is wide, there's plenty of space for visitors to spread out and you're sure to get a solid spot. The beach has many convenient amenities, such as showers, lifeguards on duty during peak months and bike paths. This is also one of the only areas in Bluff Park with handicap accessible beach entrance. Many people enjoy participating in the free yoga classes that take place on Junipero as well.

  • #2
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    #2 in Long Beach, CA
    Museums, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    One of the most popular attractions in Long Beach is the Queen Mary, a retired British cruise ship that operated numerous transatlantic voyages throughout the early 1900s. Once known for its classy atmosphere and high profile guests like Winston Churchill, the ship is now frequented by travelers looking to learn about its history and get a glimpse into the luxury of the past.

    Aboard the ship, travelers can take guided tours and explore different themed exhibits. There are different tours to choose from, including a Steam and Steel tour that brings you deep into the bowels of the ship to the boiler rooms and generators. Exhibits include the Shipyard and the Ship Model Gallery, where you can admire replicas of the Queen Mary in its prime. For those exploring independently, there's a scavenger hunt to follow. There are also nighttime dining experiences, in addition to more unique activities, such as illusion performances and paranormal walks through the supposedly haunted parts of the ship. Previous travelers highly recommended the Haunted Encounters tour but warn it may run a bit longer than other tours.

  • #3
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    #3 in Long Beach, CA
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    While most trips to Long Beach center on beach adventures and waterfront dining, the East Village Arts District gives the city a cultural edge that's worth exploring. This district is chock full of diverse home designs, eclectic eateries, vintage clothing stores and art galleries. Some of the most popular galleries include Hellada Gallery, The Liberty and C Gallery Fine Art, but there are plenty of others to explore as well.

    Many businesses are built into restored buildings, which gives the area a historic yet funky vibe. Murals and mosaics will brighten up your walk as you explore the streets. Previous visitors said the district is a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee and pick up unique pieces from boutique stores. They enjoyed the lack of chain stores but do advise others to pay attention to store hours before planning a shopping trip as many have limited hours.

  • #4
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    #4 in Long Beach, CA
    Beaches, Hiking, Recreation
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Recreation
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    An hourlong boat ride will bring you from Long Beach to Catalina Island. This island is popular among California residents and visitors alike for its wildlife, scenic town and beaches, and its prime dining experiences. There are plenty of activities to fill your day on Catalina Island.

    Beach lovers can stake out a spot in the sun at South Beach or Middle Beach, which are covered in white sand and located conveniently near shops and restaurants. You can also opt to relax on a private strip of shore at Descanso Beach, where you'll pay a $2 fee to enter the beach club. The club, which is located near the island's casino, offers amenities like private cabana rental, food and drink services, and outdoor showers.

  • #5
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    #5 in Long Beach, CA
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum may be small, but it offers a wealth of information about the people of the Pacific. In fact, it's the only museum in the continental United States that is primarily focused on showcasing the various cultures of Oceania. Here, you'll find both permanent and revolving exhibits featuring Pacific artists. There are sometimes living arts exhibits that include traditional dance and musical performances among other shows. The museum also holds educational programs for visitors to learn about the culture of the people living in the Pacific islands.

    The exterior of the PIEAM resembles a traditional island house. There is an outdoor garden area at the museum that holds a koi pond and some artifacts collected by the museum's creator as well. Previous visitors heaped praise on the well-rounded representation of Pacific Islanders and enjoyed the museum because of its niche subject. 

  • #6
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    #6 in Long Beach, CA
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    This large aquarium features more than 100 exhibits, the most popular of which include the sea otter and penguin habitats. An outdoor shark lagoon showcasing more than 150 sharks is also a visitor favorite. There are many educational events and presentations every month for visitors both young and old. 

    The numerous hands-on exhibits help set the Aquarium of the Pacific apart from other aquariums you may have visited in the past. There are typical tide pool touch tanks where children can discover the feeling and texture of different sea creatures. This aquarium takes hands-on learning even further by offering the chance to touch larger animals like sharks and rays. Previous visitors said their children especially enjoyed this learning experience.

  • #7
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    #7 in Long Beach, CA
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Housed in a striking building designed by the Mexican artist Manuel Rosen, the Museum of Latin American Art helps visitors appreciate Latino art before they even set foot inside. Created in 1996, the museum is the only one in the country dedicated to modern and contemporary Latino art.

    Inside, the museum displays a series of more than 1,600 permanent pieces as well as a wide range of rotating exhibits. Previous MOLAA exhibitions include works by Robert Graham, Osmeivy Ortega Nuna Mangiante and Judithe Hernández. The museum also includes a sculpture and event garden featuring more than 30 pieces representing artists from almost every Latin American country. Travelers consistently praise the museum and advise future travelers to add this to their Long Beach itineraries.

  • #8
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    #8 in Long Beach, CA
    Free, Neighborhood/Area, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This Long Beach neighborhood is famous for its water-centric design reminiscent of Venetian canals. Visitors can even take a gondola ride down the canals and pretend they're in an Italian oasis. Kayak rentals are another popular way to view the neighborhood, which is made up of narrow streets and colorful homes. If you're exploring on foot, you'll see the quaint shops and restaurants that make it a great spot for a relaxed, romantic date. If you're visiting Naples Island in the winter, consider strolling through this neighborhood to admire the extravagant holiday lights display.

    The Mother's Beach area of Naples Island is small, but ideal for families trying to catch some rays. The beach offers a playground and a protected water area so the waves are safe for children. Calm water sports like paddle boarding are popular at this beach. There are also snack bars and picnic areas for your convenience.

  • #9
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    #9 in Long Beach, CA
    Free, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're looking for a natural oasis in the middle of the city, consider visiting El Dorado Park. The park's barbecue areas make it a great place to host a nice picnic, while archery areas and fitness courses make for fun exercise options. A campground area is available to reserve if you want to spend some extra time in nature during your Long Beach vacation. A skate park, duck ponds, playgrounds, miles of bike paths and a golf course round out the offerings in this massive outdoor area.

    The property includes a 105-acre wildlife sanctuary, complete with 2 miles of walking trails. The center occasionally hosts activities, such as bird walks and family night walks, to better educate visitors on the surrounding nature in an engaging way. Previous visitors enjoyed the natural area because it's family-friendly, and most trails are flat and easy to stroll. Check the website's calendar for upcoming events.

  • View all Photos
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

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  • View all Photos
    Free, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

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  • View all Photos
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

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