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Long Beach, California: The Renaissance is Complete

Recently we had an opportunity to experience Long Beach, California, in depth; the transformation of this city over the decades is nothing less than astonishing.

Long Beach, California

What was an unremarkable middle class town has magically morphed into an exciting convention and vacation destination that rivals the best of what other Southern California beach towns have to offer.

Note: Everything you will read about our Long Beach holiday is available for your enjoyment. We have provided links to each topic. Just click on a link for more details about the subject.

We started out at SFO

Long Beach, California

Our Long Beach adventure began with a flight from San Francisco on Jet Blue airline. This was our first experience on the airline and it certainly will not be our last. We found that the extra leg room in standard economy was enough to make Jet Blue our new coach-class favorite.

Additionally, we liked the fact that there was no charge for our checked luggage.

As long as Jet Blue provides these benefits we will be “True Blue,” when it comes to flying coach.

LGB is a delightful airport

Long Beach, California

We relish flying into small town airports, and although Long Beach is certainly not a little town, the LGB airport has a small, open, easy-going vibe.

Stay at the Westin

Long Beach, California

Within minutes of our arrival at LGB we were relaxing in our room at the Westin on Ocean Boulevard.

Long Beach, California

The hotel is close to the Queen Mary and many of the other attractions on our itinerary.

Long Beach, California

After getting settled we were off for a tour of the Queen Mary led by Honorary Commodore Everette Hoard, followed by dinner onboard.

Long Beach, California

at the Sir Winston’s restaurant.

Long Beach, California

What delicious French Onion Soup!

Long Beach, California

Our main course was classic “Surf and Turf” that was cooked to perfection.

About the Queen

The city of Long Beach went into promotional overdrive in 1967 when it acquired the iconic RMS Queen Mary.  Like the city itself, the Queen has known good times and bad, and through it all has become a symbol of pride and enduring strength in America.

Long Beach, California

Highly visible in Long Beach Harbor, the Queen Mary humbly accepts daily accolades for her beauty and durability, and for those who know, for her valiant courage.

When launched in 1936, the Queen was the fastest ship afloat. During WW II, she made 72 wartime crossings of the treacherous Atlantic and was the prize never won by Nazi U-Boat captains determined to sink her for the Fatherland and Adolf Hitler.

During the war, Winston Churchill said he felt as safe aboard the Queen Mary as he did in Parliament.

Long Beach, California

Churchill’s comfortable suite on the Queen is now part of the array of staterooms available by reservation at the Queen Mary hotel. A stay on this venerable ship is an extraordinary historical privilege.

A few years back, we stayed at the Queen Mary hotel. If you would like to read about that experience on the famous ship click here for the story.

Morning on the water

Long Beach, California

The following day we toured Long Beach Harbor on the Triumphant of Harbor Breeze Cruises.

Long Beach, California

This is an excellent way to see all that the waterfront of Long Beach has to offer. Harbor Breeze also offers whale-watching cruises.

Long Beach, California

Next we strolled around Shoreline Village with its many interesting shops, boutiques, and attractions.

Long Beach, California

Our walk ended with a seafood lunch at the famous Parkers’ Lighthouse.

Afternoon at the Aquarium

Long Beach, California

Our afternoon at the Aquarium of the Pacific proved it to be a family attraction we could highly recommend.

Long Beach, California

Exhibits were both entertaining and educational.

Long Beach, California

Great fun for all ages.

Final day

The following morning we had breakfast at The Attic on Broadway. The cuisine was unique and tasty.

Long Beach, California

How about a Bloody Mary with bacon and a pickle?

Tour with Pedego

Long Beach, California

It was a beautiful Long Beach morning so we signed up for an electric bike tour along the ocean bike path. Our host was Pedego Electric Bikes.

Long Beach, California

This is an excellent way to view the 5.5 miles of manicured sand and the shoreline residences along the beach.

Long Beach, California

The bikes were all in super shape, and depending on your shape, you can pedal or leave the pedaling to the Pedego.

Long Beach, California

The outing was great fun, and there was a congenial group of participants.

Time for culture

Long Beach, California

There are plenty of indoor activities in Long Beach and in the afternoon we left the sun to visit the Long Beach Museum of Art.

Long Beach, California

We were captivated by the exhibition Baroque Sensibilities by Sherrie Wolf.

Long Beach, California

The museum changes exhibits regularly, so keep an eye on their website.

Back in time

A quite unusual attraction that is not highly publicized is Long Beach’s 4th Street, a.k.a. the “Retro Row.” It is comprised of several blocks of funky little boutiques, antique and pre-owned clothing shops that will take you back to mother’s time – or maybe your time, if you recognize lots of the habiliments. Locally owned restaurants and wine bars add to the joy of meandering.

Long Beach, California

The Rows landmark 1920s Art Theatre hosts events such as contemporary and vintage films and live concerts.

A little touch of Venice 

Our next Long Beach adventure had us back on the water.

Long Beach, California

Gliding along the waterways of Venice, Italy is one of our fondest memories, and we had an opportunity to reminisce in Long Beach on a romantic gondola ride through Naples Island with Gondola Getaway.

Long Beach, California

We watched the sun surrender to the Pacific – a perfect ending to an exceptional day.

Last supper

Our last dinner on this getaway was at the Boathouse on the Bay. The water-oriented restaurant was busy on a balmy Long Beach evening, and the service and food were as advertised — i.e., excellent.

Long Beach, California

Our entrees consisted of the biggest-ever and perfectly prepared King Crab Legs accompanied by a chopped cucumber sprinkled with dill and drizzled with a light vinegar — a brilliant pairing of tastes.

Long Beach, California

We can also recommend the tasty sea bass on potato mash amid a savory, sassy mix of carrots, peas and green beans. Delicious!

Things to know before you go

Long Beach boasts 345 days of sunshine. It is cold at 50 degrees in January and hot when it’s 83 degrees in August and September. How great is that!

The outdoor activities in Long Beach are numerous and include fishing, harbor cruises, kayaking, rollerblading, biking, horseback riding, tennis and, of course, golf. If that weren’t enough, windsurfing, scuba diving, parasailing, water skiing, whale watching and sailing are also available.

There are over 5,000 hotel rooms in Long Beach, and 17 hotels that have complete meeting facilities. The public transportation is unsurpassed, and with all the available activities, Long Beach is a spectacular convention town.

As evidenced by its many nightspots and hip restaurants, the city has become an exciting destination for younger tourists.

There’s a lot to do and see in Long Beach. We recommend a visit. You will not be disappointed.

For additional information check out www.longbeachcvb.org

If you go

Long Beach, California

Long Beach is 22-miles south of downtown Los Angeles and is well serviced by the airlines and the California Freeway System.

Happy travels.

Photos © Judy Bayliff

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