Only a few miles away from the Greater Los Angeles area, Long Beach, California, is the perfect Southern California coastal town to visit. Home to beautiful beaches, chic neighborhoods, fun-filled boardwalks, and bustling shopping, there are plenty of fun things to do in Long Beach, CA.
Long Beach is a thriving coastal city with enough activities to fill up an entire trip. From pristine beaches to interesting museums, the top tourist attractions offer something to satisfy every traveler’s taste. The Pacific Coast city is also home to great hotels, fantastic restaurants, family activities, and fun nightlife.
Not sure how to plan your trip to Long Beach? Use this friendly guide for all the best places to visit in Long Beach, California.
Best places to visit Long Beach, CA
Aquarium of the Pacific
Located in downtown Long Beach, the Aquarium of the Pacific is a fascinating attraction with countless things to see & do. Residing in the Rainbow Harbor marina overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the aquarium is home to several marine exhibits.
The Tropical, Northern, and Southern California galleries mimic the natural habitats of marine life throughout the world’s oceans. Other exhibits display sea jellies, penguins, sea otters, and even sharks.
The Shark Lagoon is a 10,000-square-foot outdoor exhibit with several different species of sharks. It also includes interactive displays such as shark touch pools.
The Queen Mary
Take a drive on Queensway Bay until you reach the grandest ocean liner you’ll ever see in person. More than 130 feet longer than the famed Titanic, The Queen Mary is a beautiful ship that sits in the Pacific Ocean just off the shoreline. The majestic Queen Mary doubles as a hotel and one of the top Long Beach tourist attractions, offering plenty of tours and exhibits.
Attractions include exhibits where you’ll explore the rich history of the Queen Mary while touring the boiler rooms below deck. If you’re in the mood for a bit of a scare, book the hour-long Haunted Encounters tour to dive into the ship’s paranormal history.
If you’re traveling with family, visit the Shipyard, a 250,000-piece Lego replica of the Queen Mary. The 4D Theater offers its share of thrills for those looking to get a rush. Choose from two different films, each with its own exciting take on the ocean liner’s legendary history.
If you simply cannot get enough of the majestic Queen Mary, there are 347 art deco hotel rooms for overnight stays. Choose from their suites or staterooms, each one stylish and unique in its own right.
If you’re feeling brave, book Stateroom B340, the most infamous room known for its high volume of paranormal activity captured in the ship’s logs decades ago.
ShoreLine Aquatic Park
Only steps away from the aquarium, you’ll find the 12-acre ShoreLine Aquatic Park. Overlooking the ocean off Queensway Bay, this city park is centrally located and is the perfect place for outdoor activities. Come relax in the open greenery with a book, have a picnic, or throw a frisbee around with the family.
From ShoreLine Aquatic Park’s shores, you’ll have breathtaking views of the Queen Mary in the bay and the city’s skyline at night. Enjoy access to different harbor cruise options that’ll take you out to sea for the day.
If you want to simply stay and enjoy the park, be sure to save time to visit the grand lighthouse tower at the center.
If you’re looking to spend a fun and relaxing day with the family in Long Beach, head over to Shoreline Village. This downtown area is home to a variety of shops, boutiques, and waterfront dining options. Walk around the village and browse the many specialty stores for a great find or bargain. Shop for beach wear, clothing, art, home goods, and more.
After you’ve worked up an appetite while walking around the shops, grab a bite at one of the many eateries at Shoreline Village. Enjoy a tasty treat at one of the ice cream shops or visit one of the candy stores or bakeries.
There are also casual and fine dining options on the Long Beach waterfront for those looking for a hearty meal. Shoreline Village is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner overlooking the harbor.
Ready to visit one of the most sought-after islands in the country? Catalina Island makes for the perfect day trip or weeklong stay. Catalina Express offers a variety of boats to get you to the island right from the harbors of Long Beach. More than a million passengers use Catalina Express as their preferred ferry trip to beautiful Catalina Island.
Just an hour on by boat, and you’ll find yourself on Catalina Island, where paradise awaits. Rustic villages, breathtaking white sand beaches, and scenic views of the Pacific Ocean are just a handful of reasons to start booking a stay on Catalina Island.
Long Beach Museum of Art
Art lovers should definitely plan a trip to the Long Beach Museum of Art, where you’ll experience culture and powerful pieces of art. Located on Ocean Boulevard, right next to Junipero Beach, LBMA is one of Long Beach’s most exciting and thought-provoking tourist attractions.
The Long Beach Museum of Art has permanent galleries that vary in work, from paintings to sculptures, to drawings and more. Each of the 3,000 pieces has been thoughtfully curated to evoke a provocative and satisfying experience.
LBMA is also home to an idyllic twelve-piece sculpture garden that you won’t want to miss. It’s perfect for a peaceful afternoon stroll.
Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)
Take a drive down Alamitos Avenue to the modern and contemporary Museum of Latin American Art. The museum is the only one of its kind in the country, solely dedicated to Latin American and Latino art.
The permanent collection at the Museum of Latin American Art includes more than 1,300 works of art. There are also plenty of temporary exhibits, educational programs, and cultural events that the Museum of Latin American Art holds.
All of the works at MOLAA focus on expanding the public’s appreciation for Latino art and spreading knowledge of its rich culture and history within the Los Angeles area.
For a day of fun outdoor activities with the family, head over to the white sands of Junipero Beach. Often referred to as Cherry Beach, this popular Long Beach spot is the place to go for fun and relaxation. Known for its beautiful blue waters, there’s plenty to do when visiting.
Next door to Junipero Beach, visitors love to take advantage of the free yoga classes at Bluff Park. Families can enjoy the playground areas and open green spaces at the park. For those looking to get a good sweat going, you can use the fitness equipment available at the beach gym.
Make sure to plan a day trip to Junipero Beach for a fun-filled day of water and beach activities.
East Village Arts District
Take a day to explore the quaint and eclectic East Village Arts District. The quirky neighborhood is full of historic buildings covered in fascinating murals, art galleries, boutiques, retail shops, and restaurants.
Wandering the East Village District on foot is the best way to discover everything the neighborhood has to offer. Love boutique shops and vintage clothes? Fourth Street’s Retro Row is filled with funky vintage stores and tasty eateries for a delicious dinner. Make a reservation at Utopia, a fine-dining Italian restaurant that serves incredible food with fine art as a backdrop.
As you walk the streets of East Village Arts District, be on the lookout for familiar filming locations. It’s home to several TV shows and films like La La Land and Jane the Virgin!
Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch and Gardens
One of Long Beach’s most compelling places to visit is Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch and Gardens. This National Register of Historic Places city landmark is a great way to spend a day with the family.
Once a Tongva Village, the seven-acre ranch preserves the rich history of the native settlers and the ranching heritage of Southern California.
The Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch has garden trails for exploring, historic barnyards complete with livestock, and a working blacksmith shop. The kids can spend time on the working ranch, enjoying the ducks, horses, and sheep.
One of Long Beach’s most amazing areas, Naples Island is charming and easy to fall in love with. Overlooking Alamitos Bay, the island is reminiscent of Naples, Italy, with its bayside views. It’s common to hear visitors not only compare it to its Italian counterpart but rave about it topping the original!
Naples Island is full of quaint houses, boats in the harbor, narrow streets, and canals. The island’s center contains a plaza with a beautiful fountain, surrounded by restaurants and shops.
Plan the perfect evening with a ride through the bay, steered by a smiling gondolier or kayak the calm waters on your own to get the heart pumping.
Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum
History enthusiasts in Long Beach should plan a visit to the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum for a day of learning and culture immersion. The museum focuses on preserving the traditions and cultures of the Pacific Islands. The collections and works place a special emphasis on the Tongva people, who were the natives of the area that’s now Los Angeles.
The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum is home to several works of art but also has several recreations displaying the traditions and customs of the Pacific Islands people. These fascinating reproductions include houses, cookhouses, and huts. Original pieces on display include indigenous art, carvings, crafts, sculptures, fabrics, and more.
Make a family outing out of your trip to the museum, where you’ll get lost in the history of indigenous Southern California.
Right off Alamitos Ave, you’ll find paved walking paths for pedestrians and biking paths for cyclists. They lead right down to the expansive and spacious Alamitos Beach, a beautiful white sand beach. Visitors love to sunbathe, read a book, or simply relax because of Alamitos Beach’s peaceful and laid-back atmosphere.
If you want to get moving around, grab a ball and head over to the public sandy volleyball courts. Take advantage of Alamitos convenient beach accessories. You can rent beach chairs, umbrellas, fishing gear, roller blades, bicycles, tandem bikes, skim boards, and more. After you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to the concession stands for a refreshing drink or quick bite.
Head to Hilltop Park to feel like you are on top of the world. Located in the Signal Hill area, this park is popular for its expansive and panoramic views of Long Beach, the Pacific Ocean, and even Los Angeles from high up. Not only can you enjoy the breathtaking views of the city and the ocean, but the center of Hilltop Park has a grand monument that pays homage to its history.
During its early days, settlers would burn fires to signal their presence with smoke. Today, the monument uses real smoke to allude to Signal Hill’s past in a creative and profound way.
After you’ve taken a moment to explore the history of Hilltop Park and enjoy the view, be sure to relax in the open green spaces and even have a picnic with friends and family.
Rainbow Lagoon Park
One of downtown Long Beach’s most amazing attractions, Rainbow Lagoon Park is the perfect place to spend a family outing. Built and designed in the traditional Japanese style, the park consists of two islands connected via rainbow bridges, illuminated in different colors. The park and its surrounding lagoon are beautifully maintained and perfect for a photo-op!
You can rent swan boats to ride around the calm waters or go for a peaceful walk or bike ride on the cemented walkways and bike paths that fill the 12-acre park.
After you’ve enjoyed a day at Rainbow Lagoon Park, head over to one of the many surrounding bars or restaurants to unwind in downtown Long Beach.
Rancho Los Cerritos
The structure and grounds of Rancho Los Cerritos are an important part of Southern California’s history. The ranch tells the story of its native people in the 19th century and the subsequent development into the Long Beach area we see today.
Rancho Los Cerritos aims to preserve that history by restoring and carefully maintaining the grounds. Check out the Adobe Home, gardens, galleries, and the many museum artifacts.
You can explore the fascinating Rancho Los Cerritos on one of the several tours offered. Docent-led tours are a favorite, while others choose to go on self-led tours. Home and garden tours are also available, along with a scavenger hunt for those looking to add a bit of excitement.
Of course, if you choose to bypass the tours, you’re welcome to simply stroll the grounds of the ranch by yourself.
El Dorado Nature Center
Need to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city? One of the best things to do in Long Beach, CA, is to take a moment to visit El Dorado Nature Center. This oasis transports you to a world of natural beauty and tranquility. Here, you’ll quickly forget you’re only minutes away from one of the largest cities in the world.
The 105-acre El Dorado Nature Center includes miles of trails, two lakes, and a stream, all open for you to explore at your leisure. The space is a sanctuary for all wildlife. There’s even a visitor center with art galleries and educational displays so you can learn more about El Dorado’s ecosystems.
Plan a solo trip for some time to self-reflection or come with the family. Here, you’ll be surrounded by nature and can bask in the beautiful weather and outdoor serenity.