Approximately 22 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach, CA has spent a lot of time in LA’s shadow—but it has a whole lot to offer in its own right. Here are 15 reasons to stay in Long Beach—instead of LA proper—on your next visit to the area:
1. Long Beach has its own airport and is immediately surrounded by downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Universal Studios, Disneyland, and many other attractions, but is less expensive and features an authentic taste of Southern California.
2. The Aquarium of the Pacific has something for kids and grownups with fun interactive displays and informative tours.
3. Hipster mixology bars on the Promenade.
Tip: You need a password to get into the basement bar under The Federal, and if you get it—don’t bother. It’s a poser bar where the bartenders take too long to make and serve drinks that taste like kamikaze shots, and then charge a buttload. Stick to the street-level bars.
4. 2nd Street in Belmont Shore is an adorable beach street flanked by canals and lined with affordable shopping and a great mix of eateries and pubs that have been around for decades.
5. Hotel Maya is a hidden treasure. It sits on its own peninsula, is decorated with a unique modern art flair, and will make you feel like you’re at a high-end resort in Cabo, yet with access to the fun social scene of a city.
6. The beautifully renovated The Westin Long Beach and the Renaissance Long Beach are conveniently located in walking distance to sites, eateries and pubs.
7. The beach! Long Beach boasts walkways along a cliff with breathtaking views and a winding bike path on the beach. Bike rentals are readily available.
8. Great gastropubs and cutting-edge restaurants. Here are a few to check out: SIP, BO-beau, Beachwood BBQ & Brewery, The Attic on Broadway, Pier 76 Fish Grill, Michael’s Pizzeria.
9. It has an edge. Instead of the cookie-cutter feel of an amusement park resort, you have a real city feel with beachy outdoor options.
10. Free transportation. Long Beach Passport is convenient and free!
11. Catalina Island is a short boat ride away, which means a fun day out on an island is only an hour away. The boat terminal is conveniently located near the Aquarium of the Pacific.
12. All the good stuff in the OC is just up Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Seal Beach is a charming old-fashioned beach town with a great independent theater. Huntington Beach is a long-time mecca for surfing, sun, and babes.
13. Schooner or Later and its local-favorite Sunday brunch on the water with a fun crowd, diverse menu selection, and champagne.
14. Laguna Beach is just up PCH and offers a varied day out of art, food, and combing the tide pools.
15. The Queen Mary. This fascinating historic ship and hotel is also a destination for food, drinks, exhibits with festivals, and events throughout the year. Onboard, Sir Winston’s Restaurant & Lounge has a panoramic view and an elegant yesteryear feel.