Southern CA Family Travel Guide: Long Beach
Read why you should explore Long Beach with kids.
I remember visiting Long Beach, California a couple times when I was younger; but it wasn’t until I attended a conference there 3 years ago that made me fall in love with the city. The truth is, Long Beach has changed so much in the last few years and it truly is a hidden gem. It’s more than just a busy port with a 1930’s ocean liner. It’s an urban beach town with eclectic neighborhoods, cultural diversity, and perfect for foodies and families seeking fun activities. Hence, why I couldn’t wait to bring my little crew to visit and explore.
Where to Stay
My favorite place to stay in Long Beach is Hotel Maya. It’s a stunning waterfront resort situated across the harbor from Downtown Long Beach that blend’s Southern California culture and Latin American vibes. Love that they have games throughout the resort for kids to play with. Plus, it offers a free shuttle to its hotel guests within a 2 mile radius.
Things to Do in Long Beach with Kids
Hands down the Aquarium of the Pacific is a must. As Southern California’s largest aquarium it focuses on the Pacific shore of North America and the tropical South Pacific. It’s a fun place for kids of any age and quite frankly adults too, with lots of interactive exhibits and even a shark and ray touch pool. Tip: you can enjoy special animal interaction experiences and behind the scenes tours for an additional cost.
The Queen Mary is a well-known Long Beach attraction. The 1930’s art deco ocean liner is currently celebrating 50 years in Long Beach. And if you haven’t heard the news, something very exciting is being added to this legendary destination.
“The Queen Mary, An all-inclusive entertainment destination set on 65 acres of waterfront land surrounding the iconic ship, Queen Mary Island will pay homage to the Golden Age of the luxury liner while bringing to life a curated collection of music, entertainment, dining, retail and adventure experiences that take full advantage of the scenic coastal setting along Long Beach’s Queensway Bay.”
Be sure to tour some of the POW! WOW! murals in Long Beach. I had no idea about this week-long event in Hawaii and how it has grown into a network of artist that has expanded to cities and countries such as Long Beach, Taiwan, Israel, Singapore, Jamaica, Washington D.C., Guam, New Zealand, Germany and many more. After 4 years, Long Beach now has over 70 murals too see. Definitely worth checking out on your next visit.
The Gondola Getaway was a favorite. The nicest gondoliers (ask for Josh) and charming houses lined up in hidden canals made us immediately feel transported to Italy. Tip: Highly recommend booking one at sunset and bring a picnic to eat and drink on the gondola. We totally would have done that except we had dinner before our cruise. Also, during the month of December, the houses in the canals get all decked out in holiday decor. Plus, there’s a Christmas Parade that takes place the first weekend in December, followed by the Naples Boat Parade the following weekend.
Additional Tips for Visiting Long Beach
- If you need help downtown, look for a Downtown Guide wearing a red jacket. They can help you find whatever you need.
- Check with your hotel on hotel guest transportation. They might offer a free shuttle bus to popular attractions free of charge.
Where to Dine in Long Beach with Kids
The options are endless as LB has seen a huge growth in new restaurants opening their doors these past couple years.
Being that, as mentioned previously, our kids have food allergies, we’re always concerned when we travel and dine at new places. However, we were relieved to find out that many restaurants in Long Beach cater to food allergies and dietary needs. Thai District was one of them and the food did not disappoint. Loved the Pineapple Fried Rice, Pad See Ew, Pad Thai and kids Chicken Fried Rice. All made without eggs and tree nuts.
Thai District features locally sourced organic produce in their modern Thai dishes.
Long Beach Creamery uses local, organic ingredients to create signature flavors of ice cream. And they even offer Vegan options.
Fuego at Hotel Maya, is a modern, Latin infused dining and lounge experience that offers a unique setting at the water’s edge featuring 13-foot-tall glass walls that fully retract with seating inside and on the patio area. Fuego’s stunning open-air views include the Pacific Ocean, Long Beach skyline and the Queen Mary. Aside from the stunning views, the food was delicious both at breakfast and dinner. Tip: order a handcrafted margarita as Fuego has one of the largest tequila selections in the region.
Tequila Jack’s, located at Shoreline Village, offers Baja-style Mexican dishes. Their menu offers something for everyone, from tacos and shrimp in salsa verde to tequila-glazed baby back ribs! Dine indoors or on their beautiful waterfront patio. Open daily from 11:30 am.
Here are our Top 10 things to do with kids in Long Beach.
- Experience the Gondola Getaway
- Explore the Aquarium of the Pacific
- Tour the Queen Mary
- Shop, play and eat at Shoreline Village
- Ride a surrey at Shoreline Village or Hotel Maya
- Tour POW! WOW! murals
- Check out molaa (Museum of Latin American Art)
- Harbor Breeze Cruise – Whale, dolphin and sea life cruise.
- Have a beach day
- Take a day trip to Catalina Island
We’re already planning to come back to check off numbers 7-10.