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.
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
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
THE VARDEN HOTEL: 335 Pacific Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802
HOTEL MAYA – Doubletree by Hilton 700 Queensway Drive
Long Beach, CA 90802
HYATT REGENCY LONG BEACH
200 South Pine Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802
RENAISSANCE LONG BEACH HOTEL
111 East Ocean Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90802
THE WESTIN LONG BEACH
333 East Ocean Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90802
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.