10. Walk back in time at Rancho Los Alamitos
Photo by: Flickr/tdlucas6000
Rancho Los Alamitos, home to some of the region’s oldest history including the Tongva Indians who populated the region from 500-1780, features manicured grounds and gardens, the adobe Rancho Los Alamitos house, a museum, and a historic barn to explore with your family. The cactus garden and massive fig tree (planted in the 1800s) are kid-favorites, but don’t miss out on the free, docent-led tours offered every 30 minutes. Throughout the year cultural, holiday, and educational events are featured and include topics that range from agriculture to Native American, Japanese, and Hispanic culture. Best of all, visiting the museum and grounds is completely free!
Tip: A similar site, Rancho Los Cerritos, is located nearby.
9. Tour the Russian Submarine Scorpion
Photo by: Flickr/Bobn’Renee
Located next door the historic Queen Mary, the Russian Submarine Scorpion offers families the chance to hop inside a real, historic Russian submarine (originally the B-427 which operated until the mid ’90s). The self-guided, narrated tour is perfect for active (and not claustrophobic) families as you must navigate the sub’s narrow passageways, ladders, crawl spaces, and small circular, watertight hatches to explore the vessel. Inside, kids can learn about the various roles on board, practice pushing buttons, and check out the periscope and torpedo room.
8. Gondola Ride through Naples Island
Photo by Flickr/aboutmytrip.com
Naples Island, a neighborhood on Long Beach’s eastern shore, is a fun spot for chartering a boat tour that doesn’t hit the open ocean. Touring the slips, bay, and beautiful homes and buildings that line this section of water is a treat for families; I recommend taking a gondola tour that evokes a European vibe and charm all of its own. Finish your cruise with dinner at one of the numerous Naples area restaurants, or take the Aqua link shuttle boat from Naples all the way to Shoreline Village.
7. Explore Shoreline Village
Photo by: Trekaroo/mcfam
One of the area’s most concentrated hubs of souvenir selections, Shoreline Village is an adorably cute collection of pier-side shops and restaurants: a must-stop for touristy-inclined families. Promise the kids a scoop of ice cream or massive serving of funnel cake in exchange for some sweet family pictures taken in front of the Easter egg-colored, old-fashioned buildings; you’ll be glad you did. If the kids are good for the family photo shoot, surprise them by heading inside the Pelican Pier Pavilion, home to a fun, old fashioned arcade and beautiful carousel ride.
6. Museum of Latin American Art/Long Beach Museum of Art
Photo by: Flickr/Eric Chan
The Museum of Latin American Art, housed in one of Long Beach’s historic 1920s buildings, is a great family-friendly museum. In addition to featuring numerous art exhibits, kids will love the “Play with Me” exhibit featuring interactive activities and fun for kids 5-12. Regular events throughout the year include family-friendly workshops, dancing, music, and other programs. Get hands on with art of all varieties at the Long Beach Museum of Art. Drop-in programs include family art-making workshops and events with local artists. Friday admission is always free!
5. El Dorado Regional Park
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons/northwalker
Located to the far north of Long Beach, El Dorado Regional Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland and the perfect place to head to explore the great SoCal weather. Families will enjoy hiking and bike trails (with convenient bike rental locations on property!), fishing lakes, a nature center with hands-on, rotating exhibits, an archery range (with free lessons!), and plenty of open space. Young kids will love the playgrounds and the chance to ride along in a pedal boat, while older kids will no doubt enjoy exploring the model sailboat and model aircraft area. Hungry families can grab a snack at the onsite food and beverage area.
4. Rainbow Harbor and Harbor Cruises
Photo by: Trekaroo/mcfam
3. Hit the Beach
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons/jessicacu
2. Aquarium of the Pacific
Photo by: Trekaroo/ilovemybeautybaby
1. The Queen Mary
Photo by: Bigstock/jiawangkun
Long Beach’s Must Eats
Where to stay in Long Beach
Poolside at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach. Photo by Katie Bodell
While literally hundreds of hotels are within a short mileage distance from Long Beach, traffic into and out of the city (and all LA and Orange County destinations) can make what seems a short distance into a very long drive. I recommend that families stay within the city limits and near the heart of the action in the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, located adjacent to the Convention Center, Shoreline Village, Rainbow Harbor, the Aquarium, and even access to Catalina Island. Hotel Maya, a Doubletree by Hilton hotel, is a best bet for a luxury getaway with easy access to the city’s waterfront. Don’t forget The Queen Mary itself as a unique accommodation option that your family won’t be able to replicate in most other cities across the globe!
With Southern California as its home, Long Beach offers families a wide array of day trip options. We’ve only scratched the surface here with these trips that families should consider while visiting the region.
Photo by: Bigstock/damonq9
Located just an hour off the shore of Long Beach, Catalina Island is a fun destination for families seeking a little R&R from the busy and hectic pace on the “mainland.” Adventurous families will love the numerous excursion options and the foodie scene is starting to make a name for itself. Tip: Avoid weekends and “port days” if you can, the town is very busy when the cruise ships are docked for the day.
Explore detailed family-friendly options in Catalina.