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, restaurants and scenic views.
Visitor can 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.
1. Shoreline Village
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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 Raindance 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, MS 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, California 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, California 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, CA 90840, Phone: 562-985-8889
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5. Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California
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The Long Beach Museum of Ar 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, CA 90803, Phone: 562-439-2119
6. Long Beach Antique Market
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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.
4901 E. Conant St, Long Beach, California 90808, Phone: 323-655-5703
7. Michael's on Naples
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Michael's on Naples is a sophisticated and sleek restaurant that has quickly garnered a reputation for serving expertly prepared Italian fare, as well as a savvy wine selection. The knowledgeable and friendly staff walk guests through an assorted menu that features artfully prepared dishes prepared using organic and fresh ingredients. The menu at Michael’s on Naples includes a little bit of everything, from daily Chef specials to homemade pasta dishes to handcrafted sausages. Aiming to provide a memorable dining experience, the restaurant also offers a five-course tasting menu with wine pairing and appetizers and drinks on its rooftop terrace.
5620 E 2nd St, Long Beach, CA 90803, Phone: 562-439-7080
8. Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site, Long Beach, CA
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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, Long Beach, California
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.
11. Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch & Gardens
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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.
6400 E Bixby Hill Rd, Long Beach, California 90815, Phone: 562-431-3541
12. Naples Rib Company, Long Beach, CA
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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.
5800 E 2nd St, Long Beach, CA 90803, Phone: 562-439-7427
More places to visit: Best Things to Do in Santa Ana.
13. Belmont Shore and Naples
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Visitors who would like to experience the unique charm and ambiance of Southern California should make their way to the seaside communities of Belmont Shore and Naples. These very popular communities epitomize the California lifestyle and are widely known for their beautiful beaches, placid lagoons, canals and boardwalks. The homes are elegant, the shopping is great and there are endless water sports to enjoy. You can even enjoy an authentic gondola ride through the canals of Naples, which was designed around a network of waterways, just like Venice. When you need a break from the beaches you can head to Second Street, the Marina Pacifica Mall or the Marketplace for some retail therapy.
Belmont Shore and Naples, Long Beach, CA 90803
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
15. Catalina Express, Long Beach, California
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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.
628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, California 90802, Phone: 562-437-1689
More weekend destinations: Best Things to Do in Oakland.
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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
18. Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum
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The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum aims to inspire and educate visitors about the Pacific Islands and its many diverse cultures. Visitors can expect unique exhibitions, top-notch educational programs, and a world-class permanent collection which also feature living arts. The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum was founded in 2010 from the works collected from the personal collection of Micronesia artwork by Dr. Robert Gumbiner. During the 1970s, Dr. Gumbiner traveled extensively throughout the Pacific Islands providing his healthcare services. After his tragic passing, Dr. Gumbiner’s vast collection, as well as the funds to found the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum, were generously gifted to the Long Beach community.
Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum, 695 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802, Phone: 562-216-4170
19. Skylinks at Long Beach
Your Long Beach vacation would be incomplete without spending at least one day on one of the areas’ most impressive golf courses. Skylinks at Long Beach Golf Course is a championship 18 hole which was designed by Cal Olsen. The links-style course features wide-open fairways and carefully manicured greens, and has been designed to offer an enjoyable yet challenging round of golf for players of all abilities. Perhaps you would like to take some time out to work on your game? Skylinks offers golf instruction for all levels, including group clinics and private lessons. There is also a practice facility where you can hone your skills.
Skylinks at Long Beach, 4800 E. Wardlow Road, Long Beach, CA 90808, 562-421-3388
20. 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
Attraction Spotlight: Rancho Los Alamitos
Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach has twice been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the first time as the blessed Tongva village of Povuu’ngna – the original birthplace of the natives of the Los Angeles Basin – and the second time for being able to maintain culture while evolving from its historical grassroots and altering its landscape significantly, in accordance with its prior norms and values. The ranch’s advent has led to the creation of films, art, and modern exhibits that showcase the nuances of the native people. In addition, the place demonstrates the transformation of the ranch with the passage of time, which helps to provide context to these changes.
Tracing its roots back all the way to the 1920s and 30s, Rancho Los Alamitos includes remnants of an ancestral village, four acres of extensive historical gardens, a working ranch barnyard that was restored in the early 20th century as well as an adobe-core ranch house dating all the way back to around 1800.
The Ranch House
Built by the Nieto family on a hilltop adjacent to Puvunga, this abode was used as a home for the horses and the rancho vaqueros, since the native families never actually resided here. It is believed that the most valuable commodity for the natives was the freshwater spring under the hill. Visitors may learn about the history of the ranch house, all the way into the 1800s, giving you a glimpse of the life of the people who lived here.
The Gardens at Rancho Los Alamitos
These gardens are more than just large green spaces, they’re prominent historical sites. Developed in the 1920s by Florence Bixby, this was one of the most defining eras in the advent of large and moderately sized gardens in Southern California. An excess of money from the oil, real estate, and movie profits funded an ideal environment for the creation of beautiful and exquisite gardens without competition. For visitors, this is a treasure trove of historical knowledge as well as a nice place to sit, relax, and be taken aback by the sheer work and craftsmanship that has gone into these gardens.
Barns in Winter
Barns in Winter presents a chance to see the usual activities of a ranch or farm. These typically take place in the early spring, though the dates change from time to time depending on the season and weather conditions – so if this holds your interest, be sure to follow the website! Activities here include live sheep shearing, preparations of ranch-themed meals with tasting, and an event where you use the tools at your disposal to make a take-away craft for your home. The activities here are a great way to spend time with your family!
Springtime in the Gardens
Guided by the ranch’s exclusive historical gardens expert, Janet Brown Becker, visitors can join a curated tour of the gardens. Spring is a great time to enjoy the ranch’s nationally recognized gardens as all the plants are blooming and the scenery is breathtaking! Ms. Becker graduated from Berkeley with a degree in landscape architecture (with a specialization in California garden design).
To be fair, there are a lot of very good things to be said about the Rancho Los Alamitos. A single visit can impart you with a wealth of historical knowledge and cultural background supported by curatorial documentation and practical displays. It combines historical integrity and accuracy with beautiful scenery, well-executed landscapes and an ambience of respite. Whether you enjoy a peaceful stroll in beautiful gardens, or itch to know more about the lives and development of the natives of California in the context of modern culture, this is the place for you.
Note that the events and activities covered above are just a few of the ones we found notable, but there is something for everybody. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out the website linked below for more details as well as information on how to get there.
Make sure you carry comfortable clothes since the ranch has numerous adventurous activities bound to make one feel truly rejuvenated!
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6400 Bixby Hill Rd, Long Beach, CA 90815, Phone: 562-431-3541
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Attraction Spotlight: The Queen Mary
Located in Long Beach, California, the Queen Mary aims to provide a unique educational experience to visitors of all ages. Guests aboard the historic Queen Mary are sure to have a fabulous time as they take a trip back in time and learn about an important part of the culture and history of WWII.
The Queen Mary has a vast and epic history that dates back to the era of the Great Depression. Construction of the magnificent Queen Mary began in the year 1930 in Scotland. Despite the economic struggles of the time, no expense was spared during the building of the Queen Mary – the ship was meant to be the height of class.
Rumor has it that the ship was named after the wife of King George V, Mary. The initial voyage of the Queen Mary took place on May 27, 1936 from Southampton, England. The ship proudly boasted two cocktail bars, a swimming pool, five dining areas and high-class lounges, a squash court, a grand ballroom, and a small hospital.
These amenities made the Queen Mary one of the grandest ocean liners in the world of the time. Celebrities like Clark Cable and Bob Hope, dignitaries, and eve royalty cruised on the Queen Mary. However, the Queen Mary transitioned into one of the largest and fastest troopships in World War II.
After the war, the Queen Mary was to be turned back into a luxury cruise liner. She underwent the refurbishment process and began carrying passengers again in 1947 and continued to do so for the next two decades.
Eventually, technological advancements made cruise liners like the Queen Mary less popular, so in 1967, the Queen Mary completed her last cruise and was docked in Long Beach, California. Currently, the Queen Mary still resides in Long Beach and serves as a luxury hotel, restaurants, and event venue.
Tours & Attractions:
There are many different tour packages and attractions available aboard the Queen Mary, including the following:
Attractions at Night: This twilight tour allows visitors to explore the Queen Mary at night when the spirits are out and about. This guided tour, Haunted Encounters, will feature stories and legends of the ship and maybe even a paranormal sighting or two.
Group Tours: There are tours that offer something for everyone and for any size group. Whether its celebrity guests, paranormal activity, or historical and fun facts, there are tours to satisfy every interest.
4-D Theater: The ship now boasts a 121-seat state-of-the-art theater with 3-D and 4-D effects!
Diana: Legacy of a Princess: This exhibit features the story of Princess Diana and the Royal Family. There are a variety of clothes, accessories, photographs, and other memorabilia from the beloved princess and the family, who had often cruised aboard the Queen Mary herself.
The Glory Days Historical: This exhibit features images, stories, and artifacts from the Queen Mary in her many famous guests during her glory days – WWII.
The Shipyard: There is an intricate LEGO model replica of the Queen Mary on display in the shipyard, guests can even attempt to build their own LEGO replica!
Ship Model Gallery: This exhibit features many images and models of ships from the time of the Queen Mary. It features fabulous detail and fun facts on the building process.
Dine & Stay Aboard:
The Queen Mary also serves a floating hotel which boasts three 5-star restaurants on-board. The rooms are well-preserved and feature the original wood paneling, artwork, and the popular interior design of the time. Guests will truly feel as though they have been transported back in time and travel during the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s. Rates and availability can be found online. This iconic ship also serves as a beautiful location for visitor’s next special event or wedding.
Art Deco Festival: This exhibit features the art deco style of the Queen Mary’s golden years – the 1930’s to the 1950’s. This time was known as the “Golden Age of Travel and will immerse guests in the drinking, dancing, and dining of the time alongside the largest collection of Art Deco works in the entire world. This event will be held on August 19 and 20, 2017
Dark Harbor: This event aims to give guests endless chills and thrills as they explore the Queen Mary as they never have before – in a maze! This event will be around Halloween and held from September 28, 2017 – November 1, 2017.
The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, CA 90802, Phone: 877-342-0742
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Attraction Spotlight: Long Beach Antique Market
When it comes to finding something to do, shopping is always one activity that is bound to come up on everyone’s list. But why go regular shopping when you can indulge in stunning vintage objects that are guaranteed to be a lot more beautiful than anything you would buy from your regular online store? Why vintage, you might ask? Because there is always something special about owning an antique. When you buy vintage, you are not just purchasing the article; you also get the rich history that the item has seen. Shopping vintage is a brilliant way to go about acquiring some finds that are relatively rare or no longer available.
What else would you do at a flea market other than shop? The Long Beach Antique Market is so large that it is virtually impossible to check out every single store. The market has plenty of shops and sellers to keep you on your toes throughout the day. The antique market has over 5,000 different sellers to choose from, each selling something different. Since everything sold here is purely antique and vintage, it is extremely hard to find copies of the same product in a different section of the market, making each seller unique. You can find almost anything you could possibly want, except if you want something from the future, in which case you are out of luck because, as the name suggests, this is a vintage market. The Long Beach Antique Market website is an excellent tool in helping you understand what’s on offer at this unique treasure trove. You can find almost anything here from furniture to antique jewelry and there’s also a lot of vintage fashion going around, just right for those looking to add that old-style flair to their wardrobes.
The Long Beach Antique Market is one of the best places to purchase extremely rare collectibles that can seriously revamp the look and feel of your home. For anyone looking to start up a collection of something vintage, or for individuals who already have a collection of sorts going on, this market is undoubtedly the place to visit. The Long Beach Antique Market has tons of collectibles and unusual things to satisfy anyone who is on the lookout for something that is extraordinary as well as a brilliant place to get your hands on beautiful vintage art that would otherwise have been significantly more expensive at an art gallery or home decor store. The sellers of these markets are locals who have something small to sell, or business owners who source rare vintage collectibles, so when you buy from the flea market, you are buying directly from the primary seller, making the items a lot cheaper than in a branded store. For shopping on a budget, flea markets are a shopper’s best bet!
When planning to go to the Long Beach Antique Market, be sure to pick a day when you have a couple of free hours. Because of the sheer number of shops here, it isn’t possible to cover all of them at once unless you are just planning to have a quick look. Therefore, if you are going for something specific, don’t be afraid to ask around and the sellers will be happy to provide directions. You will have to buy an admission ticket at the entrance before entering the market.
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Veterans Memorial Stadium, 4901 E Conant St, Long Beach, CA 90808, Phone: 323-655-5703