Long Beach’s waterfront is a playground for all ages, and it always has been – dating back to the early 20th century when Long Beach was home to a seaside amusement zone with rollercoasters, a rainbow shaped pier, arcades, and more, the city’s 11 miles of waterways have always been a destination for families looking for a weekend getaway. This Long Beach Getaway takes you on a modern tour of the city’s historically lively coastline connected by a 5.5-mile sandy beach with a paved path from Rainbow Harbor to Belmont Shore. Ocean view resorts with rooftop pools, restaurants with stunning views and international attractions offer world-class accommodations for visitors and staycationers alike as they enjoy an active family weekend in and out of the water.
Stop 1 – Whale Watching: There are few experiences as rare and exhilarating as a sighting of a white, steam-like blow from a whale breaking the water’s surface for air as it migrates along California’s coastline. Gray whales frequent the Long Beach coast from December to May, and blue whales – the largest known mammals on Earth – are spotted from June to September, flapping their tails before slipping below the surface to dive for krill in deep underwater trenches. Harbor Breeze Cruises offers three-hour whale watching tours that leave from Rainbow Harbor in Downtown Long Beach, with Aquarium of the Pacific combo tickets available for those who would like to see more marine life.
Stop 2 – Up Close at the Aquarium: The internationally-renowned Aquarium of the Pacific offers up close experiences with marine life native to the Pacific Ocean, including sea lions, sharks, otters, penguins, and a true menagerie of fish, amphibians and seabirds. Kids will love the animal interaction exhibits, from moon-jelly and shark/ray touch tanks to an atrium where they can handfeed lorikeets.
Stop 3 – Waterfront Dining: If you’ve worked up an appetite for seafood after being out on the water, there are many fish in the sea to choose from at the restaurants of Shoreline Village and The Pike Outlets at Rainbow Harbor, where colorful sunset views are reflected on the waterfront. The adjacent shopping and dining areas offer a wide range of options, from grab and stroll options along the village boardwalk like hotdogs from Tugboat Pete’s, to many sit-down options ranging from national brands like The Yard House and Island’s to locally-owned joints like the BBQ spot Q Smokehouse.
Stop 4 – Shop & Stay: After dinner, the Hyatt Centric The Pike is less than a five-minute walk away for a nightcap and an overnight stay in the 138-room boutique hotel with a 360-degree view of the city from an unparalleled rooftop pool deck and bar. The hotel is right in the middle of The Pike Outlets, where you can indulge in afternoon shopping or even catch a move at the Cinemark theater.
Stop 5 – Beach: The next morning, it’d be easy to spend the entire day sunbathing and playing at the Hyatt Centric’s rooftop pool with views of the Queen Mary and harbor, but if you’re feeling like getting out and about, the resort-like hotel is a short walking distance to the beach path, where Wheel Fun Rentals offers electric and pedal-powered bicycles and surreys for the family to cruise along the coast.
Stop 6 – Brunch: Bike locks are available for those who want to make a pit stop in Belmont Shore, a beachside neighborhood with tons of locally owned shops and eateries, or the new shopping center 2nd & PCH, which features a range of casual and upscale shops (think Sephora meets Lululemon) and eateries like the swanky The Bungalow Kitchen or the more casual (but equally delicious) Urban Plates. Alamitos Bay offers is a favorite among locals for dining, with options like the marina-side Schooner or Later for a plentiful brunch, or the San Pedro Fish Market for lunch or dinner.
Stop 7 – Play: With miles of protected bays and marinas, Belmont Shore is a great place for families to safely play on the water. Rent a paddleboard or other small watercraft through Kayaks on the Water, conveniently located near the calm and picturesque canals of Naples, where there are often dolphins and other marine life, including a cove of moon jellies (don’t worry – they don’t sting!). Or if you’d prefer not to get in the water, get out on the water at Alamitos Bay in a London Boat Rental – and if you’re hungry, add food and beer to your reservation from the adjacent brewpub Ballast Point!
Stop 8 – Relax: Those seeking a less physical, guided tour of Naples may prefer to book an unforgettable evening ride with Gondola Getaway as a way to explore the Italian-inspired waterways. The serenading gondoliers train and compete each year in Italy, and many are vocal students at the local university.