Car Free Journey: Williamsburg, VA cont

March 29, 2012

 

The largest living history museum in the United States, Colonial Williamsburg is a private not-for-profit foundation that operates the restored 18th-century capital of colonial Virginia. Anyone can walk the streets in the Historic Area and shop in the stores around Merchants Square.

To visit the buildings, craft shops, ride the shuttle buses, and enjoy the concerts and other attractions that make this a unique getaway, you need to purchase a ticket. The best value is a Multi-Day ticket (good for 3 consecutive days) which costs just a few dollars more than a one-day ticket. (You can save by buying a Multi-Day ticket online.) If you plan to visit several times during the year, an Annual Pass offers great value. For current ticket prices, and to learn more about attractions and special events, visit www.colonialwilliamsburg.com. (We will include details about the attractions, itineraries, and much more later in the article.)

My wife Karen and I recently visited Colonial Williamsburg, and loved wandering around the Historic Area. When we entered the Visitor Center, we were greeted by a visiting fiddler who played old-time unaccompanied fiddle tunes. (Even though he wasn’t an employee, he added authenticity and atmosphere of the period, and transported us into an earlier time.)

From the Visitor Center, it’s a short walk to Great Hopes Plantation: a restored small farm that is typical of the middling plantations that existed around the colonial capital. Those plantations were the homes of most of the rural middle class, the ones who weren’t shop and tavern keepers or trades people in town. When we think of “plantations,” most of us think about those owned by aristocrats and members of the upper classes. A visit to Great Hopes gives a more balanced view of what plantation and farming life was like.

We visited the corn house, smoke house, salt house, kitchen, garden, tobacco house, and slave house. A visit here is more like visiting a non-wealthy friend or relative than visiting a wealthy plantation owner.

Returning to the Visitor Center, we joined an orientation walking tour that introduces visitors to the buildings, gardens, and other parts of the Historic Area. We learned that Williamsburg (known as “Middle Plantation” in colonial times) became Virginia’s state capital in 1699.

We left the tour to visit the Governor’s Palace, the residence of the many British governors who presided over the colony of Virginia. The tour took us through public area, the ballroom (that is still used for concerts and special events), the bedrooms and private quarters of the ruling family, and ended at the palace gardens. The gardens are worth a visit. You may want to return—and visitors who just want to see the gardens don’t need to wait in the long lines of people waiting to enter the Palace. I wish we had more time to explore the mazes in the gardens, but we will be sure to return soon.

Our second day focused on shopping around Merchants Square. There are many distinctive small shops. The Crafts shop had a variety of items. I purchased a Pocket Guide to Colonial Williamsburg, and a book, Faith of Our Fathers: What Our Founders Really Believed.

My wife Karen loved visiting the Cheese shop (next to the Crafts Shop). The staff there was exceptionally friendly and Karen loved the variety of interesting cheeses.

I walked a block to Prince George Street, and walked down a flight of stairs to Mermaid Books (421 Prince George Street). I felt as if I were browsing through a friend’s cellar, and ended up buying a Classics Illustrated edition of Heidi for our grandchildren. The hospitable owner offered to gift wrap the book at no extra charge.

Being an ice cream addict, I crossed the street to visit the local Baskin Robbins—described by a Colonial Williamsburg guide at Merchants Square as being “the most popular and busiest Baskin Robbins in the country.” I couldn’t verify that, but I did appreciate the early opening hours (10 a.m.), wide selection, and friendly service.

I learned about a local privately-owned Bed and Breakfast near Merchants Square. While many of you will enjoy the convenience and special benefits of staying in one of the official Colonial Williamsburg hotels or cottages, another option is the Fife and Drum Inn (441 Prince George Street): a Bed and Breakfast with several distinctive rooms and just a short walk from Merchants Square and the Historic Area of Williamsburg.

Unfortunately, our short visit was just a start. I’m hoping that we will soon purchase the Annual Pass to Colonial Williamsburg ($59.95 apiece until March 16, then $61.95.) and return many times.

How to Get to Williamsburg

The best way to get is by train or bus. The Transportation Center (468 North Boundary Street, Williamsburg VA 23185) is just a short walk from the Historic Area, the Visitors Center, and Merchants Square.

Amtrak has 2-3 trains every day going to Richmond, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston (and of course stops in between). The one-way fare to Williamsburg (all with 14 days advance purchase) is: from Washington, D.C.: $29 each way, Baltimore: $36, Philadelphia: $46, New York Penn Station: $62, and Boston South Station: $71

Greyhound buses also stop at the Transportation Center. There is direct service from both Richmond and Norfolk, and connecting buses from many other communities.

At the train station, take a few minutes to view a picture of General (and later President) Dwight Eisenhower greeting British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. A telephone customer service rep at Colonial Williamsburg’s telephone center told us that former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the train here to help dedicate Colonial Williamsburg when it first opened.

Getting here by air is more difficult. The nearest airport is Newport News/Williamsburg (Patrick Henry Field—PHF for short). Air Tran, Frontier, Delta, and U.S. Air serve the airport. The only way to get to Williamsburg is by taxi or airport shuttle. Tidewater Coach (www.tidewatercoach.com or-757/218-9539) charges $35 for one person, $45 for a couple, $15 apiece for large groups, and $25 apiece for individual readers who share a van. Marrow Transit (www.marrowtransit.com or 757/564-5644) charges $55 for one person, and $65 for 2 people. Both companies require advance reservations.

Getting Around After You Arrive

From the Transportation Center, Williamsburg Transport (www.williamsburgtransport.com or-757/220-5493) provides affordable hourly service to most hotels and attractions. Your best choice is a one-day pass for $2. The www.williamsburgtransport.com web site includes links to Hotels, Attractions, and Shopping.

You can also walk to the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center (3 blocks away), Merchants Square, and many other in-town shops and attractions. The Gray Line serves Busch Gardens. The Orange line serves the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center. The College of William and Mary is served by the Blue, Red, and Green Lines.

From the Transportation Center, it’s a three-block walk to the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center, and a short walk to the shops at Merchants Square. Remember that after you purchase your tickets to Colonial Williamsburg (preferably online), you can ride the Historic Williamsburg shuttles free.

Two local taxicab companies with good customer reviews are: Historic Taxi (757/258-7755) and Taxi Williamsburg (757/907-5658. A new taxi company is Colonial Capital Cab (757/345-2224).

What To Do After You Arrive

There is so much to do in Colonial Williamsburg alone that you could spend an entire weekend—or even a week—exploring and coming back to revisit the gardens, historic sites, and shops here. There are programs most evenings. The Kimball Theatre (located in Merchants Square) offers films, live performances, and talks and debates relating to colonial issues.

Barbara Brown, Communications Manager for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation offers these suggestions:

  • Garden Lovers could spend an entire visit enjoying some or all of the gardens here.
  • Spa lovers can spend two days in the Spa of Colonial Williamsburg.
  • Golfers might prefer to play all three of our championship courses.
  • Foodies will enjoy dining in the taverns, sampling Chef Rhys Lewis’ ode to the bounty of Virginia at the Williamsburg Lodge restaurant and topping it off with an elegant meal in the Regency Room in the Williamsburg Inn.
  • Art lovers will delight in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.
  • There’s plenty of shopping in Williamsburg with the one-of-a-kind shops and Colonial Williamsburg shops in Merchants Square, the bookstore and gift shop at the Visitor Center and the Prime Outlets on Richmond Road (Route 60).

For 2 detailed itineraries (Suggestions for First Time Visitors, and Colonial Trades), go to:

http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/visit/whatToSeeAndDo/historicArea/itineraries.cfm

From April 15 until October 31, free buses take visitors from the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center to Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center and Yorktown Battlefield. For more information about Jamestown and Yorktown (including tickets), visit www.historyisfun.com.

Even though most sites, gardens, and attractions in Colonial Williamsburg close at 6 p.m., remember that there are many evening programs. Most require a separate ticket, in addition to your daily or multi-day ticket, or annual pass. (Annual pass holders and guests of official Colonial Williamsburg hotels receive a 25% discount.)

If you are looking for free entertainment, the historic Bruton Parish Church (www.brutonparish.org) has free Candlelight Concerts every Saturday evening at 8 p.m.

For More Information

For information about Colonial Williamsburg attractions, hotels, itineraries, buying tickets online, vacation packages, evening programs, and anything else relating to Colonial Williamsburg, visit www.colonialwilliamsburg.com, or call toll free (800) 447-8679

For information about other Williamsburg area attractions, shopping, and accommodations, visit www.visitwilliamsburg.com, or call toll-free (888) 882-4156.

For information about local bus and trolleys, visit www.williamsburgtransport.com, or call (757) 220-5493.

For information about Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center, and Yorktown Battlefield, visit www.historyisfun.com, or call (757) 253-4838.

Steve Atlas spotlights where to visit or live without depending on a private automobile. View past Car Free Journey columns, and special reports about good places to live without a car at www.pubtrantravel.com. E-mail Steve with your comments or ideas for future columns at steveatlas45@yahoo.com. Visit Steve’s website: www.carfreeamerica.org for more articles and columns about car free living and travel.

 

 


Informal – Informal at the UN continued

March 29, 2012

As such, we were invited to join the discussion on how to solve these complex problems, not only with a keen eye toward the role cities will play in the final outcome document, but also to network and exchange ideas with other stakeholders on how to ultimately translate all the talk into specific action on the ground.

We were pretty excited to see the paragraph ascribed to cities in the zero draft of the document, which is the agreed upon starting point of the negotiations:

We commit to promote an integrated and holistic approach to planning and building sustainable cities through support to local authorities, efficient transportation and communication networks, greener buildings and an efficient human settlements and service delivery system, improved air and water quality, reduced waste, improved disaster preparedness and response and increased climate resilience.

Of course, by the time the UNCSD delegates had gone through their first reading of Section V (Framework for Action and Follow-up), a whole new picture appeared. Here just a small sample from the third day of informal consultations, as excerpted from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin:

On cities, CANADA supported the US proposal on sustainable transportation. NEW ZEALAND recommended maintaining resilient ecosystem services. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA introduced its proposal on including greener buildings in city planning. The EU reserved on Japan’s proposal to establish a platform to promote sustainable cities. Proposals for a new title included “Human Settlement, Sustainable Cities, Rural Development and Housing” (G-77/CHINA) and “Cities and metropolitan regions and opposed to extend it to rural development” (EU). The US suggested replacing “low carbon cities” with “sustainable cities” or “low emission cities.” The G-77/CHINA identified slum prevention and upgrading as key elements.

Delegates consulting on the text, photo Earth Negotiation Bulletin

It’s a little bit like a global sausage-making town hall, and actually quite amazing how courteous, efficient and fast-moving this process is, considering that it literally involves the entire world.

While the process is quite fascinating and I enjoyed my time sitting in the plenary, the real action for us happened in our major group meetings, side events, and casual meetings in the UN cafeteria, aka the Viennese Cafe. It’s in those meetings where NGOs and civic groups can get a chance to talk to some of the delegates and give their input on what should be included in the draft.

John Matuszak, US, meets with NGOs, photo Earth Negotiation Bulletin

 

There’s obviously no guarantee that any of it will be included, or if it does, it may very well get deleted again at a later point in the negotiations, but just this morning at our daily major groups briefing, Nikhil Seth, Director for Sustainable Development at the UN, reiterated that civil participation is strongly encouraged and asked us to not get frustrated by the sometimes very arduous process. He likened it to a wave that kind of sucks you in and spits you back out, but ultimately will move us all forward.

There’s definitely a palpable excitement about this new commitment by the UN to include stakeholders from all walks of life and society. While most of the input may not make it into the final document, there’s no doubt that people at the highest levels are willing to listen to a broad range of ideas and let their thinking be inspired by the experiences and lessons from the ground.

For example, for us it was pretty cool to be invited, along with a group of other interested NGOs, to Swedish ambassador Staffan Tillander’s office, to discuss a possible ‘friends of the city’ network that could pool our knowledge and broaden our scope to make the voice of sustainable cities stronger.

Naomi, who is fluent in Swedish, had a chance for a photo-op with the ambassador.

This is really just the beginning of a non-stop process that will go on throughout the coming weeks, into June, and really, beyond the conference. Whatever language ends up in the final document, the real challenge will be to translate the words, intentions and treaties into action.

Sven Eberlein, Ecocity Media  sven@ecocitybuilders.org

Sven Eberlein is a writer, musician and activist living in San Francisco with roots in Germany. As an associate of Ecocity Builders, Sven has been intimately involved in the advancement of sustainable cities and urban design. His essays have been featured in magazines ranging from the SF Bay Guardian to Global Rhythm Magazine. His new book, Dancing on the Brink of the World, weaves themes of ecology, social justice and spirituality onto a canvas of art, music and creative storytelling. He is a founding member of the band Chemystry Set and publishes the creative portal Tuber Creations. You can read Sven’s creative musings at his blog, A World of Words.


Informal-Informal in New York

March 24, 2012

This week a small but poised Ecocity Builders delegation including Kirstin Miller, Naomi Grunditz and myself got to spend time at UN Headquarters in New York to witness the first round of ‘Informal-Informal’ negotiations on the Zero Draft of the Outcome Document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20.

As the issue of sustainable development, or how all humans can prosper without destroying the planet we live and depend on, is global, far-reaching and multidimensional in nature, these negotiations do not only involve governments and diplomats…

Delegates during the negotiations, Photo Earth Negotiation Bulletin

but active participation of all sectors of society and all types of people – consumers, workers, business persons, farmers, students, teachers, researchers, activists, indigenous communities, and other communities of interest, also known as major groups.

Farmers representative in the plenary, photo Earth Negotiation Bulletin

As such, we were invited to join the discussion on how to solve these complex problems, not only with a keen eye toward the role cities will play in the final outcome document, but also to network and exchange ideas with other stakeholders on how to ultimately translate all the talk into specific action on the ground.

We were pretty excited to see the paragraph ascribed to cities in the zero draft of the document, which is the agreed upon starting point of the negotiations:

We commit to promote an integrated and holistic approach to planning and building sustainable cities through support to local authorities, efficient transportation and communication networks, greener buildings and an efficient human settlements and service delivery system, improved air and water quality, reduced waste, improved disaster preparedness and response and increased climate resilience.

Of course, by the time the UNCSD delegates had gone through their first reading of Section V (Framework for Action and Follow-up), a whole new picture appeared. Here just a small sample from the third day of informal consultations, as excerpted from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin:

On cities, CANADA supported the US proposal on sustainable transportation. NEW ZEALAND recommended maintaining resilient ecosystem services. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA introduced its proposal on including greener buildings in city planning. The EU reserved on Japan’s proposal to establish a platform to promote sustainable cities. Proposals for a new title included “Human Settlement, Sustainable Cities, Rural Development and Housing” (G-77/CHINA) and “Cities and metropolitan regions and opposed to extend it to rural development” (EU). The US suggested replacing “low carbon cities” with “sustainable cities” or “low emission cities.” The G-77/CHINA identified slum prevention and upgrading as key elements.

Delegates consulting on the text, photo Earth Negotiation Bulletin

It’s a little bit like a global sausage-making town hall, and actually quite amazing how courteous, efficient and fast-moving this process is, considering that it literally involves the entire world.

While the process is quite fascinating and I enjoyed my time sitting in the plenary, the real action for us happened in our major group meetings, side events, and casual meetings in the UN cafeteria, aka the Viennese Cafe. It’s in those meetings where NGOs and civic groups can get a chance to talk to some of the delegates and give their input on what should be included in the draft.

John Matuszak, US, meets with NGOs, photo Earth Negotiation Bulletin

There’s obviously no guarantee that any of it will be included, or if it does, it may very well get deleted again at a later point in the negotiations, but just this morning at our daily major groups briefing, Nikhil Seth, Director for Sustainable Development at the UN, reiterated that civil participation is strongly encouraged and asked us to not get frustrated by the sometimes very arduous process. He likened it to a wave that kind of sucks you in and spits you back out, but ultimately will move us all forward.

There’s definitely a palpable excitement about this new commitment by the UN to include stakeholders from all walks of life and society. While most of the input may not make it into the final document, there’s no doubt that people at the highest levels are willing to listen to a broad range of ideas and let their thinking be inspired by the experiences and lessons from the ground.

For example, for us it was pretty cool to be invited, along with a group of other interested NGOs, to Swedish ambassador Staffan Tillander’s office, to discuss a possible ‘friends of the city’ network that could pool our knowledge and broaden our scope to make the voice of sustainable cities stronger.

Naomi, who is fluent in Swedish, had a chance for a photo-op with the ambassador.

This is really just the beginning of a non-stop process that will go on throughout the coming weeks, into June, and really, beyond the conference. Whatever language ends up in the final document, the real challenge will be to translate the words, intentions and treaties into action. I’ll be writing more in the coming weeks about some really exciting projects Ecocity Builders is working on for Rio and beyond, but for now, as I’m heading out of the laboratory of UN Headquarters into the field of the New York Highline, I’ll leave you with a photo of Kirstin and me, with hopeful hearts for big deeds.


Ecocity Insights: Reducing energy use at BCIT

March 2, 2012

In the interest of achieving ecological sustainability, meaning use of ecological goods and services within nature’s carrying capacity, the scientific community is calling for a four to ten-fold reduction in global levels of energy and materials consumption. Growing concerns about energy security coupled with evidence of anthropocentrically induced climate change, habitat degradation and species loss, global fisheries decline, desertification and water shortages point towards the relevance of the scientific community’s challenge despite perceptions that such targets are “unrealistic.”

Inspired by the outcomes of this initiative (SOCE 2009), School faculty, staff and students set about implementing their ideas. As a first step, the School is applying leading edge technology to the challenge of achieving a four to ten-fold reduction in energy and materials consumption of a portion of the BCIT Burnaby Campus known as the “Factor IV area” while maintaining service levels.

Key initiatives include:

-        75% energy reduction

-        75% material reduction

-        Street repair

-        Guichon creek – day lighting

-        Rethink NE1 (a large building within the Factor IV area)

Students, Faculty and Staff have worked to together during the last few months to establish a baseline, a reduction target and a list of projects needed to meet the factor IV reduction in energy.  The energy throughput reduction target of Phase 1 (excluding the rethink of NE1) is 12,000 GJ/yr.

Image 1) Methodology used to reduce energy by 75%

Good news! A reduction by 75%, or 12,000 GJ/year, is possible in the buildings located in the Factor IV area – while maintaining service levels. Even better: all projects identified by Students, Faculty and Staff come with a positive return on investment (i.e. they make good financial sense!).  Key projects that were identified are:

#

DESCRIPTION STATUS STUDENTS

1

Smart Meters Installation in-progress. Real time data will be made available to students.

2

Wood dust Extraction Completed. Students did original energy audit; one case study written.

3

NE6 High Efficiency condensing boilers Completed. Designed and installed by Faculty; used by students in piping programs.

4

Heat doctors Completed. n/a

5

Biomass system Engineering study and business case in progress; principle investigator or team of investigator now needed; Some capital secured. One case study written; Boiler house will be designed for students; Faculty involved in project development.

6

Welding ventilation in NE8 Engineering study and business case completed; need capital. Students did original energy audit; one case study written.

7

NE6 Outdoor welding Project team created. To be confirmed.

8

Lighting Redesign Engineering study in progress. n/a

To learn more, please contact:

Jennie Moore

Jennie_moore@bcit.ca

Alexandre Hebert

Alexandre_hebert@bcit.ca

Andrea Linsky

Andrea_linsky@bcit.ca

References:

School of Construction and the Environment. 2009. Reducing Our Ecological Footprint Video. Burnaby, BC: British Columbia Institute of Technology. Available at: www.bcit.ca/construction/sustainability

Sinclair, ed. 2008. Campus Design and Planning: Culture, Context and the Pursuit of Sustainability. Ottawa: Canada Green Building Council


Car Free Jouney: Longbeach, CA

March 2, 2012

Introduction to Long Beach

Dust off your walking shoes and make your way to Long Beach! Long Beach boasts more than 100 quality restaurants within an eight block radius and many recognizable hotel brands along the shoreline. The Pike at Rainbow Harbor in downtown Long Beach features not only stunning views of the shoreline but exciting nightclubs and a wide selection of restaurants. Share a laugh with friends at the world’s largest comedy club, the Laugh Factory. Sip a drink, enjoy the music and dance the night away at The Auld Dubliner, Mai Tai Bar or Kavikas. The streets of downtown Long Beach are lined with bars and nightclubs such as Café Sevilla, Shannon’s On Pine, Cohiba and more- all within walking distance of the city’s major hotels!

For the environmentally conscious, Long Beach is home to the first hybrid “E-Power” buses which travel extensively throughout the city. These buses are the first of their kind and have cleaner tailpipe emissions as well as provide a quieter ride for passengers.

While traveling on foot, go for a spin on the Passport, a shuttle service that takes passengers to the most exciting attractions in downtown for free. Tour the historic ocean liner, the Queen Mary, pet a shark at the Aquarium of the Pacific and visit the Museum of Latin American Art (Mila) without having to get out your car keys!

If you’re looking to shop, take the Passport and stroll down Retro Row, a popular shopping destination with a myriad of vintage shops and a favorite of L.A. costume designers and locals alike.  Outside of downtown, for $1.25, the Passport can take riders to one of the city’s walkable neighborhoods, Belmont Shore where visitors can enjoy boutique shops and eclectic restaurants such as Open Sesame, La Stradaand Legends Sports Bar.

 

Getting Here

         The most convenient airport is Long Beach Airport, served by Jet Blue, Delta, U.S. Air, and Alaska Airlines.  From here, take Long Beach Transit Route #111 westbound from the Airport to the Transit Mall (last stop).  The trip takes about 40 minutes and costs $1.25 each way ($4 for a one day pass that allows unlimited travel on all Long Beach Transit buses. Buses run every hour. For complete schedules for Route 111 from Long Beach Airport, go to http://www.lgb.org/travelers/transit.asp, or http://www.lbtansit.com. You can also call Long Beach Transit at (562) 591-2301 from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, or 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday. (All times are Pacific Time.)

From Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), take the Lot G (free) shuttle to the Aviation LAX Green Line Metro Station (about 15-20 minutes). From there, take Metro’s Green Line train toward Norwalk, and get off at the Imperial Wilmington station (about a 15 minute ride). At the Imperial Wilmington station, transfer (free) to the Blue Line (another rail line). Take the Blue Line south (towards Long Beach) and get off at the Transit Mall Station. The cost is $1.50 one way or $5 for a one-day pass (good for unlimited trips until 3 a.m. the next day).  For Metro fare information, go to: http://www.metro.net/around/fares. For more information about Metro’s Rail Lines, go to:

http://www.metro.net/around/destination-guides. Or call Metro’s customer service (323/Go Metro—or 323/466-3876) from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. (All times are Pacific Time.

If you arrive by train or bus, take Metro’s Blue Line from Union Station south to the Transit Mall station in Long Beach.

 

What to Do After You Arrive

            Getting Started

The Transit Gallery/also known as the Transit Mall is located at 1st and Pine: just a short walk from downtown restaurants and hotels. The Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau recommends staying downtown because of its convenience to restaurants, downtown shopping, and public transportation.                  Your first stop should be Long Beach Transit’s Transit and Visitor Information Center, located at 130 1st Street SE, corner of 1st St. and Pine Ave. in the First Street Transit Gallery. Here, you can buy passes (a one-day pass is just $4 for unlimited rides on Passport and other regular bus routes, or $18 for a 5-day pass. Seniors age 62 and over and persons with disabilities qualify for reduced fares—for eligibility, visit http://www.lbtransit.com/fares/Discount_Fare_Eligibility.asp.), get map and schedule information. While you are here, be sure to pick up brochures and get questions about local attractions answered at the visitor information window.

Hours for transit information are weekdays: 7 a.m.-6 p.m., weekends: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Public rest rooms are open every day from 5 a.m. – 1:30 a.m. the next day. Telephone assistance is available at (562) 591-2301: 7 a.m. -6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday. (No telephone service on Sunday.)

Visitor information center hours here are 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., every day (longer in summer).

 

Where to Stay

The Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau recommends staying downtown because of its convenience to restaurants, downtown shopping, and public transportation. Here are a few hotels that are recommended by the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.

AVIA HOTEL LONG BEACH: 285 Bay Street
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 436-1047

http://www.aviahotels.com

 

THE VARDEN HOTEL: 335 Pacific Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 432-8950
http://www.thevardenhotel.com

 

HOTEL MAYA – Doubletree by Hilton 700 Queensway Drive
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 435-7676

http://www.hotelmayalongbeach.com

 

 

HYATT REGENCY LONG BEACH

200 South Pine Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 491-1234
http://www.longbeach.hyatt.com

RENAISSANCE LONG BEACH HOTEL

111 East Ocean Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 437-5900
http://www.renaissancelongbeach.com

 

THE WESTIN LONG BEACH

333 East Ocean Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90802
562-436-3000

http://www.westinlongbeachhotel.com

 

The Queen Mary, in addition to being a major attraction, has 314 hotel rooms, a variety of dining options, and a theatre. For information, visit www.queenmary.com

 

Visit www.visitlongbeach.com for additional hotels downtown and elsewhere in Long Beach.

 

            What To Do While You Are Here

            If you enjoy walking, a good way to begin is to walk down Pine Avenue to the end. When you reach the Pine Avenue Pier, turn right to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, and left to enjoy a 4 mile stroll along the ocean on the bike beach path.

Aquarium of the Pacific:  The Aquarium, located at 100 Aquarium Way and open almost 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., spotlights the world’s largest ocean.

Meet more than 11,000 animals in over 50 exhibits as you explore sunny Southern California and Baja, the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific, and the colorful reefs of the Tropical Pacific.
Touch over 150 sharks in Shark Lagoon. Feed colorful birds in Lorikeet Forest. Touch sea jellies in the Arctic & Antarctic gallery, and explore environmental issues in the Ocean Science Center.

Join a Behind-the-Scenes Tour. Enjoy Turtle Vision 4-D. Take a voyage on a daily Whale Watch or Harbor Cruise. SCUBA dive inside the Aquarium’s largest exhibit through the daily Dive Immersion program. You can even get up-close and feed a sea lion, sea otter, or shark by reservation during weekend Animal Encounters.

For information about admission, including a combination ticket for the Aquarium and Queen Mary, visit www.aquariumofpacific.org, or call (562/590-3109.

The Bike and Beach Path:  Enjoy a stroll along the Pacific shore. This popular path goes to the popular shopping neighborhood of Belmont Shores. Take a few minutes break at Shoreline Village, located in Rainbow Harbor, and enjoy its arcade, carousel, and many shops (www.shorelinevillage.com.

Visit the Queen Mary. Take Long Beach Transit’s free Passport C bus from the Transit Mall…Come aboard the legendary Queen Mary. Book the Behind the Scenes Guided Tour of the historic ocean liner and World War II troopship, and see restored areas that have been under wraps since the final voyage in 1967, including the Isolation Wards and the aft Machine Rooms. Enjoy a meal, shop and even plan to spend the night in an original First Class Stateroom. Then board one of the Cold War’s hottest weapons, the Russian submarine, code name: Scorpion. It’s rugged, spartan, cramped and shrouded in secrecy. Feel the chill of 300 feet of Cold War menace.

The Queen Mary is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The most affordable way to visit is with a combination pass for the Queen Mary and Aquarium of the Pacific.

You can also stay overnight on the boat. A basic Bed and Breakfast package can be very affordable. For more information about visiting the Queen Mary or booking an overnight stay, visit www.queenmary.com, or call (562) 437-4531 or toll free (800) 437-2934.

Three Museums Worth a Visit (check their websites for hours and cost):

Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum: www.pleam.org or call 562/216-4120.

The museum showcases the diverse cultures from the Pacific, including the Marshallese, Samoans, Chamorro, Fijian, Carolinian, Tongan, Micronesian, Hawaiian, the Ni-Vanuatu, Niuean, Tuvauluan, Maori, Polynesian, Papuan, Austronesian, Nauruan, Melanesian, Palauan, the I-Kiribati and many more distinct nationalities. PIEAM’s exhibits include sculptures, textiles, paintings, wooden tools, jewelry, and carvings from across the Pacific

Museum of Latin American Art:  www.molaa.org or call (562) 437-1689.

The Museum of Latin American Art is the only museum in the United States dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art

To get to either of these museums from the Transit Mall, take Long Beach Transit Passport B, or routes 71, 72, 91, 92, 93, or 94 to 7th and Alamitos and walk to either PLEAM (695 Alamitos) or MOLAA (628 Alamitos).

Long Beach Museum of Art: www.lbma.org or call (562) 439-2119. Located at 2300 East Ocean Blvd., the Long Beach Museum of Art features a 1912 Craftsman mansion perched atop picturesque Bluff Park.  The adjacent gallery building houses a collection of ceramics, decorative arts and contemporary paintings. The museum can be reached from the Transit Mall by taking Long Beach Transit Passport A or D to Ocean Blvd and Lindero.

Visit Catalina Island: Would you like a relaxing escape from urban cares? Then, consider a boat trip on Catalina Express to Catalina Island. The city of Avalon has beaches, and opportunities for bicycling, hiking, kayaking, fishing, golf and miniature golf, rental golf cars to get around the island, and dining. The newest attraction here is a zip line eco tour. For more information about the zip line tour and other activities on the island, go to www.visitcatalinaisland.com and click on activities. The town of Two Harbors offers hiking, bicycling, scuba diving, snorkeling, and more. For more information about Catalina Island, visit www.catalinachamber.com, or call (310) 510-1520. For Catalina Express fares and schedules and additional information about visiting the island, visit www.catalinaexpress.com, or call (310) 519-1212.

Enjoy Bicycling while you are here!  Explore the Shoreline Pedestrian Bike path
Glide, ride or stride along the water’s edge on the main beach from Alamitos Bay to Shoreline Village. This 3.1-mile bike path is a 17-foot-wide concrete trail on the beach, extending from Alamitos Avenue on the west to 54th Place on the east. Two 6-foot lanes are for bicycle traffic and one 5-foot lane is for pedestrians. You can rent skates, bikes, umbrellas and beach chairs at Alfredos on the west end. Call (562) 434-6121 for more information. Find more bike trails at www.bikelongbeach.org. Click on Maps.                  Bike Station is a unique bike parking and bike rental facility within a short walk of the Transit Mall. A small membership fee ($10 for 10 days) allows you to rent a bike for 24 hours for $32. For more information, visit www.bikestation.com/longbeach. The first facility of its kind in the U.S., Bikestation Long Beach is strategically located on the transit-only mall on First Street, a nexus for light rail, buses, pedestrians, and a local shuttle that services neighborhoods and key attractions.  It is one block from the last stop on the Blue Line (the Long Beach Transit Mall Station. Bikestation Long Beach offers 24-hour indoor bicycle parking (free during regular business hours), bike rentals, professional repair services, a retail bike shop, free air, and more.

Nearby, more than 30 miles of dedicated shoreline and river bicycle paths, as well as Class II paths (routes accommodating both bicycles and cars), connect to other parts of the city.

Would you like a bicycle tour of Long Beach? Visit www.calibiketours.com, or call (562) 334-BIKE.

Visit Naples on a Hydrobike

Have you ever considered riding a bike on the water? If so, consider renting a hydrobike from Long Beach Hydrobikes. A hydrobike is basically a bicycle designed to ride on the water. It’s like riding a bike with training wheels—the folks at Long Beach Hydrobikes believe anyone can do it. A hydrobike is the only way non-drivers can visit and explore the canals in the nearby town of Naples. Long Beach Hydrobikes will supply you with a map and detailed directions for visiting Naples and its canals. For more information, visit www.longbeachydrobikes.com, or call (562) 546-2493. Long Beach Hydrobikes is open daily in fall and winter from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and in summer from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

To get here from the Transit Mall, take Passport A to Marina Drive. Long Beach Hydrobikes is located next to a parking lot, a short walk from the bus. (During summer, Long Beach Transit’s Aqua link will take you on a boat ride directly to Long Beach Hydrobikes.)

 

We’ve Just Begun—but, we’ve run out of time!

If you still have energy, Long Beach has lots of shopping, restaurant choices, and evening activities.

The Long Beach Symphony and International City Theatre (ICT) both perform at the Convention and Entertainment Center (www.longbeachcc.com, or call 562/436-3636). Many restaurants offer live music.

For more information about entertainment, shopping, other attractions or accommodations, visit www.visitlongbeach.com, or call (562) 436-3645 or (toll-free) 800/452-7829.

For transit information in Long Beach visit www.lbtransit.com, or call (562) 591-2301.

Steve Atlas spotlights where to visit or live without depending on a private automobile. View past

Car Free Journey columns, and special reports about good places to live without a car at

www.pubtrantravel.com. Send your comments or ideas for future columns at steveatlas45@yahoo.com.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

 

 


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