Discover all this city by the sea has to offer. This list is largely a compilation of my personal recommendations, tried and true. A few items are traditional activities for travelers that I have not yet tried – those you will find marked with an asterisk. They are included, nonetheless because sometimes it’s fun to be a tourist in your own town. Links and locations updated December 27, 2019.
1. Catch Long Beach Transit’s free Passport Bus and enjoy cruising 2nd Street and Downtown Long Beach. The Passport is a free bus that connects you to downtown Long Beach’s finest attractions and destinations, including the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, Pine Avenue, City Place Mall, The Pike at Rainbow Harbor, Convention Center, Shoreline Village, many downtown hotels and Long Beach Transit’s water taxis, the AquaLink and AquaBus. More info here.
2. Play Frisbee Golf at El Dorado Park. The 18 hole, par 3 disc golf course is free, with three pin locations per hole so the layouts change weekly. You will find the pro shop next to the tennis courts. View a map of El Dorado park here.
3. Enjoy a twilight picnic at the top of Signal Hill. Though technically in the city of Signal Hill, this park is surrounded by the city of Long Beach and offers unparalleled views of the city, the port, and the sea. Sunsets can be spectacular from this vantage point, especially when wispy white clouds dot the sky. We suggest picking up sandwiches and cookies at Panini’s. Directions to Hilltop Park park here.
4. Visit the Japanese Memorial on Terminal Island. Although technically not in Long Beach, it is just outside our borders as you cross into the Port. Often overlooked by tourist guides, this memorial is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Japanese Fishing Village, Fish Harbor. Learn more here.
5. Play a game of Beach Volleyball at Belmont Shore. Look for a Long Beach Volleyball meetup or start your own game. Location can be found here.
6. Bike ride at the beach on the Shoreline Bike Path. 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 six foot lanes are for bicycle traffic and one five foot lane is for pedestrians. You can rent skates, bikes, umbrellas and beach chairs at Alfredo’s on the west end. More info here.
7. Ice skate at The Rinks. Just on the border of Long Beach in Lakewood, the Rinks offers Public Skate Sessions and family four packs. View pricing and hours here.
8. Ride the Metrolink to downtown Long Beach, or explore southern California destinations like Union Station in Los Angeles or even Downtown Disney in Anaheim. View a list of destinations in the southland here. View routes here.
9. Take a nature walk at the El Dorado Nature Center. Say hello to the sunning turtles as you cross the bridge and see how many types of birds you can spot as you walk along the trails. For directions, hours and parking fee information click here.
10. Pet a shark at the Aquarium of the Pacific. The public is invited to get up close with the ocean’s ultimate predators at the Aquarium of the Pacific for FREE during Shark Lagoon Nights. Please note that while it is almost every Friday, some Fridays are excluded. Please check the dates for availability here.
11. Find a mid-century treasure on Retro Row. Stretching between Cherry and Junipero, the district along 4th Street is home to an exciting group of 40+ independent merchants. Kitchy and hip and always hospitable, Retro Row features vintage & contemporary clothing, furniture & accessories, art, antiques & collectibles, books, roller skates & skateboards as well as a locally owned restaurants, coffee shops, and wine bars. Find directions and places to shop or dine here.
12. Tour the Queen Mary. Did you know the Queen is haunted? Admittedly, the haunted encounters tour was the scariest thing I have ever done, but there are more tours to choose from! Find hours and pricing here.
13. Sketch the artwork or the view at the Long Beach Museum of Art. The LBMA is located on a magnificent bluff-top site overlooking Long Beach Harbor and the Pacific Ocean featuring a permanent art collection, and changing exhibitions in a variety of media. Plan your visit here.
14. Expand your knowledge and appreciation of modern and contemporary Latin American Art at the Museum of Latin American Art through its Collection, ground-breaking Exhibitions, stimulating Educational Programs, and engaging Cultural Events. Find out what’s happening here.
15. Dock your boat at Shoreline Village and have dinner (or take the Metro and walk down the hill). Savor Taco Tuesday at Tequila Jack’s, try 1 of 100 beers on tap at the Yardhouse, toast happy hour at Parker’s Lighthouse, or a enjoy steak dinner served with live jazz at Queensview Steakhouse…you pick. Learn more about Shoreline Village here.
16. Be serenaded on a Gondola as you tour the Naples Island Canals. Seriously, you may forget you’re in California and not Italy. Book your tour here.
17. Bike across Los Alamitos Bay…really. While staying dry, you and your friends (or your date) can pedal your way through the water* like few people ever have in Naples, Long Beach…biking on the water! Reserve your hydrobike here. *honest disclaimer – avoid windy days!
18. Buy octopus legs and fresh produce at the Farmer’s Market. We like the one on Sundays at the parking lot of the Alamitos Bay Marina, and on Wednesdays at the parking lot at Marina Vista Park and Marine Stadium.
19. Fish on the Belmont Pier (or just peek at the fisherman’s catch of the day). Beware of a Pirate Invasion and singing mermaids. We suggest you grab lunch at the Belmont Brewing Company while you’re there. According to the website, “fishing licenses are not required on public piers in the ocean or adjacent bays, but remember, size limits still apply.” For more information, visit the California Department of Fish and Game website.
20. Swim at the Belmont Pool. How many cities have a pool at the beach? A temporary structure while the permanent one is rebuilt, it offers a great place to workout or cool off on a sunny day. For hours, fees and lessons click here.
21. Skate at the El Dorado Skate Park. A good site for filming tricks with your GoPro, dude…and it’s free! Check it.
22. Cruise on a Surry Bike along the beach bike path*. Scope out the kitschy shops at Shoreline Village, cruise past hundreds of ships in the Marina, or gallivant along the scenic coastline. Rental info here.
23. Learn zero waste basics at BYO Long Beach. Housed within Algalita, they inspire locals to reduce their trash consumption and focus on reusable alternatives. Perfection is not the goal, but progress. Learn more here.
24. Paint a plate at Color Me Mine. Pick your pottery and discover the art of having fun! Hours and details here.
25. Golf in the dark – play Glow Ball at Heartwell Golf Course. Held every Friday night between May and October, the cost is $29 and includes a BBQ dinner, green fees, a glow ball, and a drink. More info here.
26. Catch a soccer match while you grub on a George Foreman at MVP’s. Bring your cash and your appetite. All their burgers and sandwiches are named after athletes. Two locations in Long Beach – see here.
27. Order Pizza delivery and have dinner at the Bay. After a perfect day at the beach, it is so hard to leave! Extend your stay at the bay and order pizza for delivery – just tell them what street end you’ll meet them at. You can pick up some soda at the Liquor Store on 62nd.
28. Attend First Fridays in Bixby Knolls. Every first Friday night of the month, Bixby Knolls businesses unite to promote local artists and musicians through extended operating hours…it’s super fun to walk Atlantic and take it all in! Find out this month’s theme here.
30. Ride the Ferris wheel at the Pike. “I wonder if George W. Ferris knew what an everlasting affect his invention would have on generations of children from all around the world.” Find out how to get there.
31. Go Cosmic Bowling. Imagine black lights, strobe lights, disco lights, and fog to set the scene, as you bowl with your friends to a superb playlist. This is what Cosmic Bowling looks like on Friday and Saturday nights at Cal Bowl. Click here to make a reservation.
32. Bike ride with the Kidical Mass in Bixby Knolls. On the 3rd Sunday of each month, friends and neighbors meet at Georgie’s Place, (3850 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, 90807) at 1:00 and wind through the neighborhood, ending at Georgie’s Place for complimentary ice cream. To join the next ride, follow on Facebook.
33. Cruise Naples in an electric Duffy Boat. With no gas-powered motor, a Duffy boat is quiet and simple to navigate with a small steering wheel. This makes it easy to gather your friends, bring appetizers and your beverage of choice aboard and tool around the Naples canals as the sun sets. Rent one from London Boat Rentals or Anchors Away.
34. Paddle around Alamitos Bay in a kayak. Gather a group of friends or explore the Bay or Naples canals on your own – kayaking is easy to learn and a fun one-hour activity on the water. Rent kayaks here.
35. Try Stand Up Paddle-boarding (SUP). A peaceful and pleasant way to start your morning is by paddling through the bay or canals on a stand-up board – it also provides a great core workout. SUP rental info SUP Rentals.
36. Play shuffleboard at the historic Joe Jost’s. Founded in 1924, Joe Jost’s is one of the oldest continually operated taverns west of the Mississippi River. Order “Joe’s Special” and snack on peanuts and pretzels during your game. Here’s how to get there.
37. Take the teens to play billiards (aka pool) at Lakewood Family Billiards. Break away from the Xbox and play a game in real life. Find location and hours here.
38. Take a nature walk through the Dominguez Gap Wetlands. If you’re into birding and cotton-tail rabbit sightings, this will be a treat. Discover the entrance on Del Mar, north of Los Cerritos Park. View a map here. Read a previous post about it here.
39. Learn about one of America’s most popular hobbies – bird watching (aka birding). Grab your binoculars, wear your walking shoes and take a free guided tour to observe the area’s local birds. Find dates and times here.
40. Cruise the harbor in a pontoon boat*. “Comfortable seats and wide, stable pontoons make for a smooth ride, perfect for viewing the sights and sounds of Long Beach.” A great outing to take with a few friends. Rental info here.
41. Scooter down the hill and enjoy a picnic lunch at Lion’s Lighthouse at Shoreline Aquatic Park. Not only a fun place to play but a setting with fantastic views, this is one of our family’s favorite places to spend an afternoon in Long Beach. Find directions here.
42. Tour the USS Battleship Iowa located in San Pedro*. A quick jaunt across the Gerald Desmond andVincent Thomas bridges, with a fabulous view of the port, will put you in San Pedro. Experience history first-hand through a self-guided or guided tour.
43. Learn the history of Long Beach and its land at Rancho Los Cerritos. Hosting year-round events, including free summer concerts, and wonderful docent-led tours, we enjoy returning to the Rancho again and again. View their calendar and learn more here.
44. Go geocaching at the historic Rancho Los Alamitos. Although we are new to geocaching, the first time we did it at Shoreline Aquatic Park, we had so much fun. This elevates the need to visit the “land of secrets” at the Rancho. You also won’t want to miss the gardens. Find directions here.
45. Feed the Koi fish at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at CSULB. Since my boys were toddlers, and even in their teens, we have enjoyed this excursion. A visit here feels like a true escape from city life. There is metered parking. Look up admission and hours here.
46. Take in a game at the Walter Pyramid at CSULB. The 18-story Pyramid encompasses three full basketball courts, five volleyball courts and is home to the Beach Division 1 men & women’s basketball and volleyball teams. Go Beach! Check season schedules here.
47. If you’re a baseball fan, cheer on the Dirtbags at Blair Field. An inexpensive way to enjoy all a good ball game has to offer. Even better – parking is easy. View season schedules here.
48. Enjoy live music or performances at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at CSULB. Continue with your lifelong learning and experience something new. Click through for the season’s schedule and ticket prices here.
49. Pick up a good book and support your local library at the Friends of the Library bookstore. It is highly likely that you will not only find a treasure among the used books sold here but good conversation as well. The volunteers that operate the store are seasoned story-tellers. Location and hours here.
50. Participate in the free, weekly events and story hours at your local library. From toddlers to teens, the Long Beach Public Library offers a connection to your community. During the summer, get involved in their reading program and challenge yourself to dive into a good book. Check out the special events calendar here.
51. Watch (or maybe even try) kite surfing*. Because of our beach’s breakwater, Belmont Shore is an ideal place to learn how to kitesurf. It’s so fun to watch and I imagine, if you like to go fast, it’s even more fun to try. Lesson info here.
52. Go fishing at El Dorado East Regional Park. There’s nothing like fishing to teach one patience. Once a year El Dorado hosts a fishing derby – because everything is more fun with friends. Click here for info on fishing any day of the year. Click here for Derby info.
53. Zoom over to Catalina Island on the Express. Take a mini vaca. The Express takes you to Catalina in just under an hour with year-round service and up to 30 daily departures. See schedules and fares from the Long Beach port here.
54. Build a sand castle. No tools are necessary – your hands are good for digging, shaping and dripping wet sand to make ancient-looking spires. Learn the basics of building a sandcastle here. Fetch your bucket and shovel here.
55. Take an ariel tour of Long Beach*. If you’re looking for an extra special treat, this unique tour showcases the highlights of historical Long Beach, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and the surrounding Palos Verdes Peninsula coastline. Tour info here.
56. Take an electric bike or electric scooter tour of the beachfront or downtown Long Beach*. It is a faster way to see the sites. Electric bike rentals here. Razor scooter information here. Bird scooter information here.
59. Board the S.S. Lane Victory – one of only six remaining merchant marine cargo vessels built during WWII. A National Historic Landmark, this vessel has a storied past and is currently celebrating 70 years of service. Just over the bridge, in San Pedro, Official website here.
60. Catch an off-beat film at the Art Theatre. Built in 1924, this beautiful Art Deco theatre in the heart of Retro Row offers a one-of-a-kind movie-going experience. Meet your friends for beer and Vietnamese Pho at Number 9 before the film, then top off the evening with a glass of wine and cheese plate at Art du Vin. Movies and times here.
61. Walk the Naples Canals. Naples was built in Alamitos Bay in 1919 by Arthur M. Parsons. Born near Cleveland, Ohio, in November 1858, he came west at an early age and took a leading part in the growth of the west. Mr. Parsons was a close friend of Buffalo Bill and helped him organize the first Wild West Show. You can learn more about the unique history of Naples on a Naples Walking Tour. Info here.
62. Take a walking tour of historic architecture in Long Beach. Discover the architectural gems of Willmore City, the East Village or Downtown on a walking tour conducted by the Long Beach Heritage. I believe they’re right in saying, “By ‘honoring our past, we more clearly imagine the future.'” For tour information and reservations, see here. A self-guided city tour can be found here.
63. Get to know Long Beach via 22 different walking maps that highlight places of interest. Masterfully designed maps give the distance, the difficulty and describe the route with details like, “Continue south and peak into the 5 COOPER ARMS, to see the Art Deco paneling, terrazzo flooring, and bronze doors.” To access the maps, click here and scroll.
64. Long Beach has made great strides to become the most “bike-friendly city in the U.S.” Discover where the separated bike paths, bike striping, and green sharrows will take you throughout Long Beach City with this list of featured bike rides and their maps here.
65. Gather three friends for a friendly round of golf. Long Beach has some of the best public golf courses a city can boast. We already mentioned Heartwell in #25 – but there’s more! Grab your sticks and head over to El Dorado, Big Rec, Little Rec or Skylinks. Make your tee time for any one of these courses here.
66. Listen to live Irish music at Auld Dubliner while noshing on curry chips. One of our favorite things to do on a Sunday evening. Along with the curry chips, I order the potato leek soup, the mister often gets the boxty. More info here.
67. View vintage photos of Long Beach at the Historical Society. The LBHS’ mission is to “connect people to the past and to the place they live by collecting, preserving, and exhibiting the material history of Long Beach.” It’s fascinating to see what beach-going used to look like in Long Beach. Directions and hours here.
68. Make crafts or dance to live music during Free Sundays at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA). This is my favorite museum in Long Beach. Always hosting exceptional events and fantastic, well-curated exhibits, I visit whenever possible. In fact, my man and I recently went for free salsa dancing lessons and had a blast. All the info you need, right here.
69. Visit the Pacific Islands without leaving Long Beach. The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum is the first museum dedicated to Pacific Island art and culture in the U.S. Find hours and directions here.
70. File this under “perfect place to enjoy my morning cup of coffee” – visit the Jack Dunster Marine Reserve. Stop for a coffee on the way (there’s a Starbucks at Bellflower and Stearns) and park at the Pete Archer Rowing Center. This casual winding path offers quiet views of the marina along with beetle and bird watching. Put it on your list! More info here.
71. Tour the murals created during POW! WOW! Long Beach. POW! WOW!, is a Native American term that describes a gathering that celebrates culture, music, and art. Beginning in 2015, artists from all over the world have come annually to create art in public spaces. All of the mural locations, along with a map of the most recent murals can be found here.
72. Visit the Loraine and Earl Burns Miller Special Collections Room at the main branch of the Long Beach Public Library. In an elegant room, you will find an elegant art reference center. The Miller Room also houses the Miller Fine Arts Collection, The Bertrand Smith Sr. Collection, and The Marilyn Horne Archives. View hours here.
73. Learn about the history of Marine Stadium at the Pete Archer Rowing Center. Did you know Marine Stadium was created to host the rowing events for the 1932 Summer Olympics in neighboring Los Angeles? The stadium was the first manmade rowing course in the United States. View photos and learn more about the sports of rowing and crew at the rowing center.
74. Dress in white and check out lawn bowling. The friendly members of the Long Beach Lawn Bowling Club are eager to teach visitors how to play the game. I think it would make a fantastic throw-back party for grown-ups. Contact for free lessons.
75. Take your furry friend to Rosie’s Dog Beach. Thanks to local resident Justin Rudd and his bulldog Rosie, history was made when, for the first time in more than 30 years, dogs were permitted to play on a Long Beach city beach on Sunday, June 24, in 2001. The dog beach is open 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. and is located at 5000 E. Ocean Blvd. At the water, between Roycroft and Granada avenues in the Belmont Shore neighborhood of Long Beach. Learn more about the rules and parking here.
76. Hit the bull’s eye at El Dorado East’s archery range*. The El Dorado Archers’ vision is to “promote, participate in, and develop skills in the Olympic sport of archery through education, coaching, practice, and competition.” Community classes are scheduled on Saturday mornings. Learn more here.
77. Pick up a vintage vinyl record, or just peruse the cover art at Fingerprints, then eat lunch at Berlin Bistro. Coming up on 25 years in Long Beach, their newer location is in a historic building that belonged to a jukebox company called Magic Music in the 30s. You could sit in a diner in Bakersfield, punch in a number, and girls on roller skates would skate up and down the aisles in this building to find the record to play over the phone and out of the speaker on your table. It was a prototype of on-demand music!
78. Enjoy local art and fare at the 2nd Saturday Art Walk. 2nd Saturday Art Walk is a monthly event that takes place in the East Village Art District, in Downtown Long Beach, every second Saturday of each month. Linden Avenue is closed to the traffic and transformed into a street art fair by local artists while local art galleries, retailers, and restaurants stay open until late evening. Find out more here.
79. Create your own 3D printed objects at the Studio at the Main Library. Located on the lower level of the Main branch of the Long Beach Public Library, The Studio serves as a community workspace where people can meet, socialize, innovate and collaborate using technology and resources. It’s really as cool as it sounds! Learn more here.
80. Participate in a free yoga class on the bluff. Classes are offered once a day, 7 days a week from 11:00 – 12:00 on the corner of Ocean and Junipero, on the bluff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. See instructors here (our favorite is Drew).
81. Learn about the sea life in the Colorado Lagoon and pet a jellyfish! Part of the historic Los Cerritos Wetlands which once encompassed over 2400 acres, the Friends of the Colorado Lagoon offer an education center for the visiting public. They loan out buckets and nets to (gently) capture (non-stinging) jellyfish in order to observe and learn more about them. Learn more here.
82. Discover a forgotten treasure at the Long Beach Antique Market. Held every third Sunday at Veteran’s Stadium, hundreds of vendors display their wares. Bring lots of cash, parking is free, and the early bird gets the worm! Get directions here.
83. Win arcade points and pick your prize at the Cal Bowl Billiards and Fun Center. Fly a helicopter, ride a motorcycle, or beat your friend in air hockey at this old-school arcade. Location here.
84. Kick up your feet and relax as you watch a blockbuster at The Pike Theatres. The Cinemark theatres feature those Lazy-boy-like luxury loungers…with cup holders. Find your movie here.
85. Get a sweet deal on a pair of Nike or Converse kicks at The Pike Outlets. With plenty of places to shop and eat, you’re bound to find something you didn’t know you needed. Walking distance from the Aquarium and Shoreline Village. Learn more.
86. Learn about “Pole-sliding Sam” the cat at the Long Beach Firefighter’s Museum.* Occupying an old fire station, this volunteer-run museum has curated a wonderful collection to preserve the history of the Long Beach Fire Department. Hours and directions here.
87. Test your strength at a free fitness zone. These easy-to-use exercise instruction stations can be found at 5 Long Beach parks. Who knows, maybe you’ll even form a weekly habit! Find locations here.
88. Take a culinary tour of International cuisine. We recommend Peruvian at El Pollo Imperial, Japanese at Kinokawa, Thai at Panvimarn, Cambodian sandwiches and tea from KC’s Bakery, or Vietnamese at Pho Hong Phat.
89. Be thrifty and shop another person’s discarded treasures. One of my favorite things to do is shop the Assistance League Thrift Store, Retroda, and Casa de Luxe on 4th Street. See my previous post here for more thrift stores.
90. Learn how folks used to set a proper table by visiting an antique store. I always find a slow study of an antique store reveals all kinds of things about the past! See what salt cellars are like, or hunt for a beautiful berry spoon. Three of my favorites are the Vintage Emporium, Gilt Complex Antiques, and Urban Americana.
92. Do good and participate in a beach clean-up. These aren’t just any beach clean-ups…you can kayak for free if you commit to picking up plastic ocean pollution! Find out more via Algalita.
93. Go rock climbing at an indoor climbing gym. All ages and abilities are welcome at Hangar 18 where they offer over 12,000 square feet of climbing. Every time we have gone, the boys have had a blast. Check it out here.
94. Take a tour of Long Beach Breweries. My favorites include Beachwood BBQ and Brewery, Ten Mile Brewing Company, and Ballast Point. Some folks like to take the Big Red Bus Pub Crawls or Craft Beer Tours.
Don’t miss these summer activities in the LBC:
95. Sample the best of 2nd Street during Stroll n’ Savor. As the site says, “Belmont Shore’s most popular event is a summer-long “taste of Belmont Shore”, with over 45 restaurants offering the best of their menus.” Find dates and ticket prices here.
96. Ride the Long Beach Transit’s water taxi, the Aqualink or the Aquabus. With stops at favorite waterfront destinations, our water taxi service is the fun way to get around and stay cool. Stops at the Hotel Maya, the Aquarium of the Pacific, Shoreline Village and more. View the transit schedule here.
97. Sea food! This event celebrates the region’s delicious seafood and unique recipes from local chefs to the finest restaurants throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. This is an all age outdoor event alongside the Light House in Long Beach, California with a stunning view of the ocean and the Queen Mary. More here.
98. Watch free movies in the park. Another chance to eat al fresco and enjoy the view and a movie with friends and neighbors. Check the 100 Days of Summer site for updated schedules and locations.
99. Discover how funny Shakespeare can be. Attend a free performance of Shakespeare and show off your cheeseboard skills as you picnic on the lawn. Details here.
100. Cheer on the dragonboats as they race at Marine Stadium. One of the largest dragonboat competitions in California, you will also discover Chinese traditional art demonstrations, Chinese Acrobats, traditional dance and music, and martial arts performances. Date and location here.
101. Attend free concerts in the park by the Long Beach Municipal Band. Pack a picnic dinner and enjoy thematic concerts by this fabulous band. For over 100 years, the Municipal band has been entertaining concert-goers in Long Beach. View the schedule and locations here.
Archived things to do
23. Craft with rescued items from the Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse. Located in the East Village Arts Districts – choose to reuse. Find directions and hours here. The Depot for Creative Reuse has closed.
42. Originally #42 was to visit the Scorpion – a Russian Submarine. Sadly, this attraction has closed.
58. Enjoy a sing along with friends, family, and complete strangers. Sgt. Pepper’s Dueling Piano Bar features two piano players who lead a sing-along, clap-along good time. Take the family to the Sing-Along Sunday Brunch. It’s also an entertaining way to celebrate a birthday. This location has closed.
97. Catch the excitement and energy of the speed boat races. Racers from across the country compete in at least 10 classes of boats (flat bottoms, V-bottoms, tunnel, jet boats, and PWCs included). This event was cancelled.