Located about 30 minutes from Los Angeles, Long Beach is a diverse weekend destination where vacationers find a choice of museums, historic attractions, beaches, gardens, wedding venues, restaurants and scenic views. Take a tour of The Queen Mary, the famous retired ocean liner, shop for antiques at the Long Beach Antique Market, learn about marine ecosystems at the Aquarium of the Pacific, stroll through the romantic Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden and enjoy the views from the Shoreline Village, one of the most photographed spots in town. Here are the best things to do in Long Beach, California.
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Home to a range of shops and boutique, restaurants, bars, cafés and a variety of entertainment on the shores of Long Beach, Shoreline Village has something for everyone.
A selection of specialty shops, such as Latin Waves, Raindance and Purple House sell handmade clothing, jewelry, arts and crafts, while a variety of restaurants serve all types of cuisine, from all-American burgers and shakes to freshly baked cakes and homemade ice cream. Dine in style at Parkers’ Lighthouse or sip cocktails at Tequila Jack’s and soak up beautiful views of the Queen Mary. A range of entertainment will keep the kids happy, from the Shoreline Village Carousel to skeeball, skating or hoops in the arcade. Take a tour of the shoreline or rent a yacht and explore the marine life in the bay.
2. The Queen Mary
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Known as one of the greatest luxury liners to have sailed the seas, RMS Queen Mary has called Southern California her home ever since her last voyage in December 1967 and is now a major tourist attraction and a beautiful floating hotel with three award-winning restaurants and a spa. The grand dame of cruise liners offers an array of things to see and do on board.
Follow in the footsteps of her first passengers and stay in the hotel whose exquisite Art Deco style staterooms and operable portholes will leave a lasting impression. Learn the rich history of this famous ship on an informative guided tour, which covers the ship's groundbreaking construction and royal launch to her time as a troop ship during WWII and her golden days of the 1950s.
Dine in style at one of the many restaurants, bars and lounges on board, which serve award-winning cuisine and fine wine against a backdrop of Pacific Ocean views.
1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, CA 90802, Phone: 877-342-0738
More day trip and weekend ideas: 25 Best Weekend Getaways from Los Angeles.
3. Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California
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The Aquarium of the Pacific is Southern California’s largest public aquarium and sees over 1.5 million visitors a year. Situated on Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach, the Aquarium is home to over 11,000 animals, fish and marine creatures that inhabit the Pacific Ocean.
The aquarium has more than 50 animal exhibits, including the Southern California and Baja Gallery, Explorer’s Cove, consisting of Shark Lagoon and Lorikeet Forest, and the June Keyes Penguin Habitat.
The Aquarium offers a range of educational programs, interactive activities, workshops for all ages, as well as lectures by leading scientists about the oceanic environment, sustainability and ocean conservation.
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802, Phone: 562-590-3100
4. Things to Do in Long Beach: Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
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The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is a tranquil and immaculately manicured Japanese-style garden situated on the campus of California State University (CSU) in Long Beach.
The garden was built by Mrs. Loraine Miller Collins in honor of her late husband Earl Burns Miller in 1981 and was established as an educational resource for the campus and the community. Encompassing 1.3 acres, the design of the garden was inspired by the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo and features winding pathways, ponds, water features, wooden bridges and floral displays.
A range of annual events are held in the gardens each year, including a Koi Auction and chrysanthemum show. The gardens can be rented out for special occasions, such as weddings and receptions.
1250 Bellflower Boulevard BAC Room-203, Long Beach, California 90840, Phone: 562-985-8889
5. Long Beach Museum of Art
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The Long Beach Museum of Art is located in Bluff Park and presents a permanent collection of art across a range of genres and periods, from drawings and paintings, to sculptures and decorative art objects. If you are wondering what to do in Long Beach for art lovers, this is a great place to visit.
Over 3,000 works are displayed in the museum, ranging from early 20th-century European art pieces to contemporary and modern Californian works and American objets d’art. The museum offers a number of educational programs and workshops aimed at introducing children to the decorative arts, as well as free family art-making workshops and children’s exhibitions of artwork.
The museum has a lovely outdoor café with beautiful ocean views, Claire's at the Museum, which is open for brunch and lunch.
2300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, California 90803, Phone: 562-439-2119
6. Long Beach Antique Market
© Long Beach Antique Market
Located at the Long Beach Veterans Stadium on the third Sunday of every month, the Long Beach Antique Market is a traditional flea market that draws visitors from afar to explore its variety of antiques, collectibles, and treasures.
Home to over 800 vendors and sellers who offer a range of vintage collectibles and clothing, antiques, décor items and quirky treasures, the market is one of the best in the United States.
Spread over 20 acres around the stadium in Long Beach, a visit to this bustling market is a fantastic way to spend the morning, strolling around the stalls and exploring the items for sale, from retro furniture to jewelry. Read more
4901 E. Conant St, Long Beach, California 90808, Phone: 323-655-5703
7.Parkers' Lighthouse, Long Beach, California
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Boasting breathtaking views of Long Beach Harbor, an award-winning menu, a diverse wine list and impeccable service, Parkers’ Lighthouse is an elegant and romantic eatery that offers an unforgettable dining experience.
The renowned restaurant serves a range of innovative Southern California seafood dishes, as well as freshly made sushi and sashimi, accompanied by an award-winning wine list that hails from a brand new, two-story wine cellar. Parkers’ Lighthouse is also home to the Queensview Steakhouse which offers an upscale menu of prime steaks, lobster, and fresh grilled fish while patrons listen to live music.
Since the restaurant is located on the third floor of the building, beautiful views are guaranteed, as well as an extensive cocktail and craft beer menu and wine list.
435 Shoreline Village Dr., Long Beach, California 90802, Phone: 562-432-6500
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8. Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site
© Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site
Los Cerritos Ranch House is museum and heritage site that present how the rich history of Spanish, Mexican and American California affected ranch life between the 1860s and 1880s.
Built in 1844 on San Antonio Drive, the Monterey-style adobe ranch is a National, State and Long Beach Historic Landmark and includes collections of more than 1,000 items of clothing and textiles from the 1830s-1930s, over 1,100 historic photographic views of the Rancho and its occupants, and a variety of furniture, artifacts, documents and deeds relating to the ranch.
Rancho Los Cerritos offers guided tours, special educational programs for school groups and organized events relating to the heritage of the ranch.
4600 Virginia Road, Long Beach, California 90807, Phone: 562-206-2040
9.L'Opera Ristorante, Long Beach, California
© L'Opera Ristorante
Stylish, elegant and sophisticated with a menu and wine list to match, L’Opera Ristorante earns every one of its five-star dining awards and more.
Undoubtedly one of Long Beach’s best Italian eateries, L’Opera combines beautiful contemporary interiors with old world Italian charm to create a gourmet haven. Owner Terry Antonelli serves a menu of timeless Italian classics with a new-age twist, such as the ‘Delgi innamorati ve’, a sublime salad of baby greens, strawberries, toasted almonds and feta, next to favorites such as the simple Caprese salad with melt-in-your-mouth buffalo mozzarella. If you are looking for date ideas in Long Beach, this is a great place to try.
L’Opera’s offers a wine list with a range of vintages that will impress even the toughest wine aficionado and perfect accompaniments to the exquisite food.
101 Pine Ave, Long Beach, California 90802, Phone: 562-491-0066
10. Harbor Breeze Cruises
Harbor Breeze Cruises offers a range of whale watching tours on two state-of-the-art catamarans to see the largest mammals on earth in their natural environment.
Whale watching trips are run by knowledgeable and experienced crew from the Aquarium of the Pacific, who will share their knowledge and expertise on these mammals and the surrounding ocean environment as you search for migrating gray and blue whales, as well as dolphins, orcas, and seabirds.
The vessels offer comfort and safety, with expansive deck areas for viewing and photography, indoor lounge areas where snacks and drinks can be purchased from the galley service, and modern lavatories. Cruises are available on a daily basis and range from two to two-and-a-half hour trips. Read more
11. Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch & Gardens
© Rancho Los Alamitos
Rancho Los Alamitos is an early 19th century adobe ranch house and museum that showcases the history of the area, which was once the sacred Tongva village of Povuu’ngna.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the ranch includes traces of the ancestral village and restored working farm barnyard surrounded by four acres of historic gardens that were developed in the 1920s and 30s. The museum documents the history of the region and its native peoples, as well as the evolution and subsequent development of the area.
The Rancho Center offers a range of exhibits, displays and film presentations featuring the landscape and its inhabitants from the early 19th century to present day. Read more
6400 E Bixby Hill Rd, Long Beach, California 90815, Phone: 562-431-3541
12. Naples Rib Company, Long Beach, CA
© Naples Rib Company
Family-owned and operated by the Ursini family, Naples Rib Company is one of California’s top spots for prime ribs and BBQ. Long known as one of Long Beach’s best gathering place for locals to get together and share good food, great wine, and even better company, the restaurant is dedicated to serving their community.
With a varied menu that includes a choice of appetizers, including grilled artichokes and deep-fried zucchini, to entrées of smoked ribs, BBQ platters, sides of sausage and buckets of Buffalo wings, as well as a range of sweet treats, Naples Rib Company has something for everyone.
The restaurant can accommodate special events with beautiful banquet rooms for large groups, birthdays, and graduation celebrations or corporate occasions, and customized menus, décor, and audiovisual equipment. Read more
5800 E 2nd St, Long Beach, CA 90803, Phone: 562-439-7427
More places to visit: Best Things to Do in Santa Ana.
13.Things to Do in Long Beach, CA: The Scorpion Submarine
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One of the popular tours on The Queen Mary, the Scorpion Submarine tour is an exploratory journey into the depths of the submarine formerly classified as the "terror of the deep". If you are looking for fun things to do in Long Beach with kids, this is a great place to visit.
Code named ‘Scorpion’ by the Soviets, the attack submarine was once a formidable weapon. Experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore one of these warriors and get a first-hand glimpse of what life was like aboard a Russian submarine.
Explore the cramped crew quarters, the top-secret torpedo rooms, and the complex network of engines, sonar, radar and weaponry.
1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, California 90802, Phone: 877-342-0738
Top things to do in Long Beach with kids include the Aquarium of the Pacific and Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch & Gardens.
14.Bake-n-Broil, Long Beach, California
The Bake n’ Broil Bixby Knolls neighborhood family restaurant has been serving delicious eats since 1965. People count on their pies and cakes for the holidays, and you have to order your pie well in advance.
This pleasant, cozy beach-style restaurant with crowded booths and tables and lines at the counter serves the kind of comfort food we used to get from our grandmas, from chicken pot pie to flakey quiches bursting with flavor, from seasonal fruit pies and cobblers to healthy, rich sandwiches.
The menu changes with what is available in season, so do not expect to find all kinds of pies year round. Do not worry – everything they have is mouth-watering and delicious.
3697 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, California 90807, Phone: 562-595-0396
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Catalina Express offers daily boat trips to and from Catalina Island. Located 22 miles off the Southern Californian coast, the island is a favorite getaway for local Californians, who head there to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, enjoy its beautiful Mediterranean climate, and a range of fun activities.
The journey to Catalina Island takes an hour and the company’s fleet of high-speed ferries ensures the trip is safe, quick and comfortable. Boats depart from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point, and there are up to 30 daily departures year-round.
Catalina Island has something for everyone, whether you are looking to escape from it all or only visit for a day. The picturesque town of Avalon offers an array of land and sea activities, while the quaint, tranquil village of Two Harbors has some beautiful beaches.
You may also like: Best California Weekend Getaways.
16. Things to Do in Long Beach, CA: Museum of Latin American Art
© Museum of Latin American Art
Founded by Dr. Robert Gumbiner in 1996, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) is dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American Art. Situated downtown, the museum is housed in a modern building, and features four galleries, a "project space" and a 15,000 square foot sculpture garden. MOLAA offers a range of innovative and unique exhibitions and events.
Home to a permanent collection of over 1,300 works of drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and video art, MOLAA’s recent renovation added a film screening room, a research library, an education / art studio and a museum store. Read more
628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, California 90802, Phone: 562-437-1689
More weekend destinations: 15 Best Things to Do in Oakland.
17.El Dorado Nature Center, Long Beach, California
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El Dorado Nature Center is a natural and tranquil haven from which to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours and unwind. Tucked between the San Gabriel River and the 605 Freeway, the natural landscapes of El Dorado form a green heart at the center of the city and a peaceful sanctuary for local fauna and flora to flourish.
The center is home to a network of trails, snaking through forested areas and cutting across streams, which are ideal for walking and hiking - no bikes or running is allowed.
A small island at the entrance to the park boasts a modern Visitor’s Center, where information about the park and an array of educational displays can be viewed.
7550 E Spring St, Long Beach, California 90815, Phone: 562-570-1745
25 Best Things to Do in Long Beach, CA
- Shoreline Village, Photo: Courtesy of aon168 - Fotolia.com
- The Queen Mary , Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun / Fotolia
- Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California, Photo: Courtesy of beleksv - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Long Beach: Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, Photo: Courtesy of steffstarr - Fotolia.com
- Long Beach Museum of Art, Photo: Courtesy of irairopa - Fotolia.com
- Long Beach Antique Market, Photo: Long Beach Antique Market
- Parkers' Lighthouse, Long Beach, California, Photo: Courtesy of alexandros33 - Fotolia.com
- Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site, Photo: Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site
- L'Opera Ristorante, Long Beach, California, Photo: L'Opera Ristorante
- Harbor Breeze Cruises, Photo: VacationIdea
- Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch & Gardens, Photo: Rancho Los Alamitos
- Naples Rib Company, Long Beach, CA, Photo: Naples Rib Company
- Things to Do in Long Beach, CA: The Scorpion Submarine, Photo: Courtesy of littleny - Fotolia.com
- Bake-n-Broil, Long Beach, California, Photo: Bake-n-Broil
- Catalina Express, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Long Beach, CA: Museum of Latin American Art, Photo: Museum of Latin American Art
- El Dorado Nature Center, Long Beach, California, Photo: Courtesy of Buntoon - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun / Fotolia