30 Dec Long Beach has a Different Vibe
Author: Ronnie Greenberg
Photos by: Joe Hilbers
5310 Dubois Ave
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Long Beach has a Different Vibe
By: Ronnie Greenberg
Photos: Joe Hilbers
With the charm of a bustling waterfront, with the upbeat ambience of urban chic, Long Beach is an inspiration experience just 20 minutes south of Los Angeles. The city by the sea is the ultimate year-round playground for seafarers and landlubbers of all ages.
Long Beach rolls out the red carpet for outdoor lovers. It’s perfect for strolling, jogging, sprinting, rollerblading, or pedaling down the sprawling paths that wind along more than 5 ½ miles of sandy beaches. It’s a great place to bask in the sun, take a dip in the gentle ocean waves, and get your feet wet with a round of windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, or just being indulgently relaxed.
No trip to Long Beach is complete without a visit to the legendary Queen Mary. Discover the historic ocean liner and World War II troopship with tours that begin in the lower decks with the engine room, and conclude atop the ship in the wheelhouse. Plan to spend the night in one of the luxury liner’s 314 Art Deco staterooms recently refreshed with plush bedding, fine linens and modern amenities. Enjoy an array of casual-to-elegant waterfront restaurants including: Sir Winston’s the ship’s signature restaurant, casual and elegant with a romantic ambience, classic cuisine and impeccable service. The Chelsea Chowder House restaurant serves the freshest seafood in a New England ambience and the Queen’s Salon round out the sumptuous dining selections. (800) 437-2934
The Aquarium of the Pacific appeals to all ages. Discover more than 12,500 sea creatures representing over 550 species from three major regions- Southern California & Baja, Northern Pacific, and Tropical Pacific. It also has numerous areas where you can touch the animals of the ocean like sting rays, sea cucumbers, starfish and more. The Explorer’s Cove features the Lorikeet Forest where these colorful and friendly miniature parrots can be hand fed. Come face to face with large sharks, and even touch gentle sharks at the Shark Lagoon where nine species of shark can be viewed from both above and below water. The Molina Animal Care Center offers enhanced healthcare to animals as well as opportunities to view veterinary medicine in action. www.aquariumofpacific.org
Sites to see
Rainbow Harbor is one of Long Beach’s top waterfront destinations. The Pike at Rainbow Harbor & Marina reflects the history, excitement, beauty and heart of Long Beach. Along with its turn of the century Carousel and classic Ferris Wheel, there are many popular restaurants that include: Pike Restaurant & Bar; Islands Restaurant & Bar; Gladstones; Pier 76 Fresh Grill; and Tokyo Wako.
The Harbor’s Shoreline Village has the look and feel of a seaside fishing village, with a boardwalk dotted with specialty and souvenir shops and restaurants adding to the local flavor. This marina is home to boats of all types including fishing boats, tall ships, and luxury charter yachts.
Parker’s Lighthouse is a contemporary seafood restaurant and bar specializing in high quality fresh fish and serves as a highlight in the village.
History, art and culture
Rancho Los Cerritos is the ideal place to delve into the lifestyle of 19th century Long Beach. This structure was once part of an early Spanish land grant, the two story adobe was built in 1844 by John Temple, as headquarters for his cattle ranching operations. The home was remodeled in 1930 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style and is now a National, State and local Historic landmark. www.rancholoscerritos.org
Experience the sizzle of European flavored Pine Avenue, rimmed with cafes, lights and pulsating music. Saunter along the 8 block area nestled amid the high rises that form Long Beach’s metropolitan skyline.
Did someone say shopping! The effervescent area of Belmont Shore is best known as Second Street, an eclectic 15-block stretch of trendy boutiques and bookstores. Avant-garde “Funky Fourth” is a vintage shoppers dream. In addition to clothing and furniture, antique shops are plentiful. The whimsical East Village’s renovated lofts set in historic 1920 buildings and warehouses have turned the area into an arts district. Art galleries featuring area artists, used book stores, cafes, tea and coffee houses dot the area.
Downtown Long Beach is a perfect blend of a sophisticated urban center and a charming seaside community, filled with a myriad of entertainment choices. For more international flavors discover the city’s historic Spanish roots in Bixby Knolls or experience Cambodia Town, the prevalent community along Anaheim Street.
Designed around an extensive canal system, Naples Island has its own classic character. Enjoy a romantic one hour cruise aboard a Venetian-style gondola, serenaded by traditionally costumed gondoliers, who may even croon an Italian love song for you. Sip on your favorite beverages as you glide past the beautiful homes, boats and yachts, arched bridges and calm waters that create a breathtaking landscape.
Where to stay
There are many choices of accommodations from full service hotels to upscale eclectic boutiques. Unpack your bags at: Westin Long Beach just blocks from shopping, restaurants and the beach. There are 469 guest rooms including 13 suites with many offering panoramic ocean views. (800)495-3624 www.westinlongbeachhotel.com Hotel Maya a luxury boutique hotel with stunning Latin American design has 198 newly renovated guestrooms and suites featuring balconies and patios. (800)495-3624 www.hotelmayalongbeach.com Renaissance Long Beach Hotel located at the festive heart of Long Beach provides a luxurious home away from home with 374 newly renovated guest rooms. (855)499-6001 www.renaissancelongbeach.com AVIA set in the heart of the city’s waterfront dining and entertainment, has138 rooms and suites with McCartan-designed furniture and lush beds. Enjoy happy hour on the remarkable Rooftop Pool Terrace overlooking picturesque Long Beach waterfront and Rainbow Harbor. (800)760-7718 www.aviahotels.com
How to get around
Long Beach’s Bikestation at the First Street Transit Mall is the first full service bike transit facility in the United States. It opened as a transit-demonstration project in 1996 and mimics the bicycle facilities that are so popular in Europe. Since its opening it has parked more than 20,000 bikes. For bikers’ safety and convenience, bike friendly Long Beach boasts separated bikeways, bike friendly business districts, and custom bike racks.
For more information about coasting into Long Beach contact:
Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (800) 452-7829 www.visitlongbeach.com