Just south of Los Angeles, Long Beach is a coastal city that offers much more than palm-tree studded streets and ocean views. You’ll find an urban atmosphere with a beach town feel – a unique combination that makes it one of the best places to visit in Southern California. If you know where to go, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Long Beach!
I’m a Long Beach local who is here to give you the inside scoop on the best things to do in the area, whether you’re looking to hit popular attractions or discover local gems.
Long Beach welcomes those looking to adventure on the Pacific Ocean, experience diverse cultures, visit tourist attractions, and soak up the sun. Whether you want to relax on the Long Beach waterfront or get swept up in fast-paced city life, The International City offers something for everyone!
Oh, and before we dive into the list, if you still need accommodation, be sure to bookmark my guide to the best places to stay in Long Beach!
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!
Best Things to Do in Long Beach
Stroll along a colorful boardwalk
Right on the Long Beach Waterfront, Shoreline Village is a collection of restaurants and shops, all painted in bright colors. This boardwalk village is family-friendly and even offers an arcade for kids called Pelican Pier Pavilion.
Pop into one of the village’s colorful shops and browse souvenirs, Turkish crafts, clothing, beef jerky, pirate paraphernalia, and more – you name it, and a shop at Shoreline Village probably sells it!
At Shoreline Village restaurants like Parker’s Lighthouse and Louisiana Charlie’s, you’ll find plenty of outdoor seating. Swing by for happy hour and watch the sunset over the boats docked at Shoreline Marina.
👉 Love Exploring on Wheels? Bike paths wind along the coast of Shoreline Village and beyond. If you don’t have your own, this company offers bike and Surrey rentals at reasonable prices, so your whole family can cruise the shore!
Cruise to Catalina Island
A trip to Southern California wouldn’t be complete without a ferry trip to Catalina. An island about an hour’s ride from Long Beach, Catalina Island is a coastal paradise. Among other things to do on Catalina Island, you can snorkel, hike, dine on the water, camp, and if you’re lucky, spot an American Bison – there’s a herd that lives on the island!
You can explore the harbor town of Avalon on foot or by golf cart, the form of transportation accepted by most residents and all visitors. Avalon offers restaurants, bars, shops, and kayak, and snorkeling rentals so you can explore the Pacific Ocean.
Before you jump on the ferry back to Long Beach, try Catalina Island’s signature drink – Buffalo Milk. This concoction is chocolatey, boozy, and contains no actual buffalo milk! It’s named after the island’s herd.
Yoga on the Bluff
Exercise with an ocean view
What could be more Californian than outdoor yoga overlooking the sea? A local studio called Yogalution offers instructor-led free daily yoga classes. Just bring a towel or yoga mat to Bluff Park, and you’re ready to get flexible.
This outdoor yoga session often draws crowds of over fifty to a hundred people daily. Show up early to make sure you get a good spot! AIm for a spot close to the instructor if you’re new to yoga, so you can easily follow along.
👉 Pro Tip: After getting your stretch on, grab lunch at Park Pantry. This diner-style restaurant is one of my favorites – don’t skip the curly fries!
Long Beach Exchange
Dine in an airplane hangar
Long Beach Exchange, commonly called LBX, sits about a mile away from the Long Beach Airport. This unique location opened in 2018 and offers indoor and outdoor shopping and fine dining. There’s also a plaza in the middle where you can relax and enjoy the California sunshine between stores.
A portion of LBX known as The Hangar is a dynamic hub filled with all things local. Inside this 17,000 square foot space with the look and feel of an airport hangar, you’ll find a wide variety of pop-up retail shops and artisan food vendors.
If you’re looking for an upscale yet affordable culinary experience in Long Beach, I highly recommend ReMix Kitchen. The cuisine is a fusion of Italian, Filipino, and French styles, and the cocktail menu offers unique combinations.
Score vintage clothes and decor
If you’re into vintage shopping or thrifting and quirky restaurants, Retro Row is calling! As the name suggests, there’s a huge selection of vintage clothing, household items, and records on offer in the local shops. Every store is bursting with personality, and this area values creativity and diversity.
It’s easy to spend a day browsing and dining on Retro Row. In addition to vintage finds, Retro Row offers vegan ice cream, a film camera shop, Honduran cuisine, a roller skate shop, and more.
After thrifting and dinner, you can catch a movie at The Art Theatre, which offers showings daily. Originally built in 1925, The Art Theatre is the only remaining independent film house in Long Beach. Immerse yourself in local history and enjoy the show!
Portuguese Bend Distilling
Sip on local spirits
Portuguese Bend Distilling is the first distillery in Long Beach, offering handcrafted rum, gin, and vodka. The distillery offers tastings, so you can sample locally crafted spirits in the heart of Long Beach’s downtown area. The menu is also exceptional, with savory lunch and dinner selections, vegan options, and a creative cocktail list.
During the height of the global health crisis, Portuguese Bend converted their distillery to make hand sanitizer instead of drinks. Their support of the local community, in addition to their sustainability commitments, makes them a top-notch spot.
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Long Beach Museum of Art
Browse art in every media
Overlooking the Pacific on Ocean Boulevard, the Long Beach Museum of Art is a must visit for art lovers. The museum’s permanent and rotating exhibits feature sculptures, paintings, ceramics, furniture, and even more pieces in various mediums.
In addition to its permanent works, the Long Beach Museum of Art presents exhibitions by different artists. Outside on museum grounds, you’ll find a sculpture garden heavily comprised of pieces created by artists local to California.
Attached to this Long Beach museum is Claire’s at the Museum, an ocean-facing restaurant. A water sculpture by the restaurant’s namesake, artist Claire Falkenstein, dominates the center of the outdoor seating area, creating a serene dining environment. Feel free to stop by for brunch before heading inside the museum to check out the exhibits.
Whale Watching Tours
Meet Long Beach’s largest residents
Southern California is home to multiple whale species, and it’s common to see dolphins playing from the beach. But there’s a way to get even closer to the marine mammals that live in our waters. Board a whale watching tour boat at Shoreline Marina and sail off in search of whales!
Gray, fin, and humpback whales are the most common species you can see on a whale watching tour here. Sometimes, you’ll get extremely lucky and see an orca this far south!
👉 Pro Tip: The best time to spot a blue whale is from May through November when the water is warmer (incidentally, this aligns with the best time to visit Long Beach generally). For humpback and gray whales, plan your whale watching trip from January to April.
El Dorado Park
Explore wooded nature trails
Where can you stroll along foliage-filled walking trails, try your hand at disc golf, and have a picnic under shady trees? El Dorado Park! This green space along the San Gabriel River is a local favorite for connecting with nature and staying active and is worth a visit.
Check out the El Dorado Nature Center, where you can discover native plant species and encounter wildlife as you wind through the park. If you’re more into leisure sports, try the park’s golf course, or rent some rackets on-site and hit the tennis courts!
🚗 How to Get There: El Dorado Nature Center is a bit of a drive from downtown. If you need a car, check rates with Discover Cars. They’ll help you find the best rental options in Long Beach so you can see everything you want to on your trip.
Long Beach Parasail
Soar over the ocean
If you’re brave enough to turn into a human kite, we’ve got the perfect activity for you. Professional staff will take you out on a boat, and send you up into the sky so you can float over the ocean with a bird’s-eye view.
The water in Long Beach can get pretty chilly – the good news is that you won’t have to get wet to go parasailing! You’ll take off from the boat, so you can stay dry and comfortable throughout your flight and boat ride.
Swan Pedal Boat Rentals
Pedal around Rainbow Lagoon
📍 Map It: Shoreline Drive at S Pine Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802 | Phone: (562)522-6147 | Website | Hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm daily | Entrance: $11 per person | 👉 Book a Swan Boat on Viator
Enjoy an afternoon or evening pedaling on the calm waters of Rainbow Lagoon! You can rent classic swan pedal boats right across the street from Shoreline Village. You’ll have views of the famous Whaling Wall mural at the convention center, and can explore the grassy islands in the middle of the lagoon.
This is a great daytime activity for families and makes a romantic evening date for couples. At night, the swan boats light up, creating a charming ambiance.
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Rosie’s Dog Beach
Play with pups at the beach
It can be difficult to find places where your dog can run free and participate in your vacation with you, but Rosie’s Dog Beach is here to help. Take your furry friend down to this stretch of beach in Belmont Shore for some surf and socialization!
Dogs are allowed to play in the sand off-leash at Rosie’s. This is the only beach in Los Angeles County that allows dogs off-leash, so bring your pup to have some fun in the sun.
👉 Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a less messy play space to take your dog in Long Beach, try Bixby Dog Park. It’s only two miles from Rosie’s and offers different areas for large and small dogs.
Food & Drink in Long Beach
SteelCraft Long Beach
Shop small inside repurposed shipping containers
SteelCraft is a collection of upcycled shipping containers filled with local eateries and vendors. You can dine, sip, and catch live music here most Friday and Saturday nights.
You’ll find communal dining tables in the center of SteelCraft. Here, you can sit and enjoy local food with friends – or make new friends! SteelCraft was designed to be a gathering place where everyone is welcome.
Downtown Long Beach
Dance and dine the night away
📍 Map It: Pine Avenue, Long Beach 90802
Downtown Long Beach is one of the city’s most vibrant and lively neighborhoods. The area’s main street, Pine Avenue, is lined with restaurants and bars. It’s the perfect place for bar hopping!
Start your day in downtown Long Beach with coffee and breakfast from the eclectically decorated Birdcage Coffee House. At night, take your pick of seafood restaurants, Greek food, Mexican cuisine, or classic pub fare. You can dance until the early morning hours at Harbor Bar, Cafe Sevilla, and Shannon’s At The Top.
If you head to Shannon’s on Pine for a drink, I recommend that you “shoot the root!” Just tell the bartender you want to “shoot the root,” and they’ll bring you a shot of root beer schnapps to drop in a glass of beer and drink. It sounds weird, but it’s a Long Beach classic!
🛎️ Need a Hotel? If you want to stay close to the action, the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel is less than a block from Pine Avenue. The Renaissance is also within walking distance from other major Long Beach attractions like Shoreline Village, The Pike, and the East Village Arts District!
2nd & PCH
Shop and dine next to the marina
If you want the ultimate Southern California outdoor shopping and dining experience, look no further than 2nd and PCH. Located right on the border of Long Beach and Seal Beach and overlooking an active marina, this family-friendly location has it all.
2nd and PCH offers two stories of boutique shopping and fine dining, and even a roller skating rink. The central plaza boasts creative outdoor seating, water features, and fire pits. 2nd and PCH hosts live music performances, outdoor movies, food trucks, and many other events throughout the year to keep the whole family entertained.
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Shop local and eat well
📍 Map It: Second Street, Long Beach, CA 90803
Belmont Shore gives off casual beach town vibes with a hint of urban hustle and bustle. You could spend all day on its main strip, Second Street, which is home to shops, bars, and restaurants – many of which are local favorites.
Try Italian dishes at Domenico’s, one of the oldest restaurants in Long Beach. Pop into Cityology, where you can browse local crafts, souvenirs, and gifts. You won’t run out of stores and eateries to explore in Belmont Shore.
If you want to get in some exercise, the Belmont Plaza Pool is available to the public for open swim. The pool also offers water exercise classes in its heated pool – kept at a comfortable 82 degrees for your comfort.
📚 Related Reading: Belmont Shore is a great neighborhood to visit. Check out this list of the best places to stay in Long Beach to help you plan your trip!
Museums & Culture
Museum of Latin American Art
Enjoy contemporary Latin American art exhibits
📍 Map It: 628 Alamitos Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802 | Phone: (562)437-1689 | Website | Hours: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Wednesday – Sunday | Entrance: $10 adults, $7 seniors and students, children under 12 free
The Museum of Latin American Art is dedicated to contemporary and modern art by Latin American and Latino artists. The only museum of its kind, MOLAA displays an impressive permanent collection and presents rotating exhibitions.
One current exhibition, the Celebrating Diversity series, features artists who have worked toward diversity, equity, and cultural pride. From its cultural significance to its internationally renowned sculpture garden, MOLAA is not to be missed.
Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
Wander tranquil garden pathways
Located on the California State University Long Beach campus, the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden offers visitors tranquility and peace. The garden was designed to connect visitors with the natural environment, art, and culture to encourage wellness.
The garden features a koi pond, traditional tea house, rock garden, and of course, plants like the Japanese maple and black pine. The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a place to slow down and soak in the beauty of nature.
👉 Love Gardens? If you have time, head to the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino. The Huntington boasts 130 acres of gardens for you to explore!
Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum
Learn about Pacific Island culture and art
📍 Map It: 695 Alamitos Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802 | Phone: (562)216-4170 | Website | Hours:11:00 am – 4:00 pm, Wednesday – Sunday | Entrance: $5 adults, $3 seniors and students, free for children under 12
The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum features art, clothing, sculptures, textiles, and more created by numerous cultures and people of the Pacific Islands. The museum goes deeper than just displaying art and objects – it’s a place where you can learn about the Pacific Island cultures that are alive and well in the local community.
On weekends, you’ll likely see one of the museum’s artists-in-residence creating on-site. Before you leave, take a stroll through the museum’s outdoor garden featuring ancestral idols and stone money.
👉 Pro Tip: This museum is on the same block as the Museum of Latin American Art. So, you can plan to visit them both on the same day!
East Village Arts District
Browse art galleries and record shops
Located east of downtown, Long Beach’s East Village is filled with eye-catching murals, an array of restaurants, local shops, and art galleries with an emphasis on local artists. If you want to dive into the Long Beach Art scene like a local, put the East Village on your list.
Between browsing funky record shops and art galleries, see if you can find all 21 murals painted around the neighborhood. Every second Saturday of each month, the Village celebrates art and hosts the Long Beach Art Walk. If you attend, you’ll enjoy performances, painting, live music, and plenty of dining options.
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Attend concerts and performances
If musical performances and comedy shows are up your alley, you’ll love attending events at the Terrace Theater. The Long Beach Symphony performs here frequently, as well as world-famous comedians and speakers.
The Terrace Theater also hosts children’s theater performances, so you can bring the kids to see Baby Shark Live, and some years, Disney on Ice.
👉 Pro Tip: During the holiday season, the grounds in front of the theater feature beautiful holiday lights. They make a great family photo op!
Long Beach Sites & Attractions
Aquarium of the Pacific
Discover fish and marine mammals
📍 Map It: 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802 | Phone: (562)590-3100 | Website | Hours: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm daily | Entrance: $36.95 adults, $26.95 children 3-11 | 👉 Reserve Skip-the-Line Tickets on Viator
Right next to Shoreline Aquatic Park, you’ll hear the Aquarium of the Pacific before you see it. Lorikeets chirp in the outdoor aviary, and sea lions let out their familiar barks.
In the Aquarium’s Shark Lagoon, you can see these large predators up close and touch small sharks and rays. Inside, you’ll find stunning exhibits full of local and exotic marine life.
The Aquarium is committed to research and conservation. It provides a home for animals that can’t return to the wild, like the orphaned baby sea otter they took in just this December. Whether you’re visiting with children or not, the Aquarium is a great place to connect with and learn about marine life.
👉 Pro Tip: Ever wanted to hang out in an aquarium after hours? The Aquarium hosts “Night Dive,” with live DJs and bars amidst the exhibits. Join the party and check out your favorite fish!
Shop to your heart’s content
As you head down Pine Avenue toward the water, you’ll see a collection of outlet stores and a giant Ferris wheel. You’ve found The Pike – an outlet mall that offers shopping, dining, a movie theater, and even a comedy club.
If you’re looking for a vibrant place you can bring the whole family, The Pike is your spot. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel and take in ocean views, shop, and grab a bite to eat. Every first Saturday of each month, vegan eateries set up booths at The Pike – swing by and try some plant-based food!
🛎️ Need a Hotel? If you’re staying in Long Beach, the Hyatt Regency Long Beach is within walking distance of The Pike, Shoreline Village, and Downtown! It’s the perfect hotel central to the action.
That’s a wrap on the best things to do in Long Beach! From water sports to cultural art museums, you’ll find no shortage of fun things to do in this coastal city.
For more help planning your trip to Long Beach, check out my guide on where to stay in Long Beach.