With year-round warm weather and the awesome beauty of the Pacific Ocean, Long Beach, California is an exciting getaway destination perfect for any season. From a picturesque Japanese garden to romantic canals and gondola rides, Long Beach seemingly has it all. As for accommodations, there are plentiful Long Beach vacation rentals to choose from. Many are situated near lovely parks, historically significant sites, unique museums, and noteworthy restaurants. That said, take a look at the top hidden gems in the city of Long Beach.
1. El Dorado Nature Center
In the midst of the bustling urban environment of Long Beach sits over 100 acres of hidden natural beauty. The El Dorado Nature Center has two lakes, a stream, woodlands, and grasslands. A wooden bridge leads to a small island housing the Visitor Center, which has an art gallery, educational displays, and a gift shop. Enjoy discovering the park’s beauty on its two miles of walking trails. The park schedules guided nature programs and discovery tours to familiarize you and your children with the abundant birds and wildlife in the area.
2. Museum of Latin American Art
Besides the massive and well-known Long Beach Museum of Art, the city also hosts the lesser-known but profoundly impressive Museum of Latin American Art. This unique venue is the only museum in the country to focus exclusively on Latino and Latin American contemporary art. Located in the East Village Art District, the museum has four galleries and a spacious sculpture garden. The permanent collection includes paintings, photography, sculpture, and videos. The facility has an art studio, a research library, a screening room, and a museum shop.
3. Naples Island
Naples Island is a lovely neighborhood in Alamitos Bay on the Long Beach waterfront that consists of three small islands with canals between them. Gondola Getaway offers gondola cruises through the scenic canals with experienced gondolier guides. If you prefer, rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards, and explore the canals on your own. At Overlook Park, also known as Naples Plaza, take a bench, and have a relaxing time watching the boats glide by. Mother’s Beach, known for its shallow waters, gentle waves, and playground area, is an ideal place to take the kids.
4. Rancho Los Alamitos
Rancho Los Alamitos, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, lies near vacation rentals on the east side of Long Beach. Once a thriving cattle ranch and later a sugar beet plantation, the complex now includes a central building that functions as a museum with historic exhibits and meticulously restored ranch grounds. The outbuildings include barns, corrals, a blacksmith shop, and a feed shed. The facility houses numerous farm animals such as draft horses, rabbits, ducks, and chickens. Ranch personnel provides public programs and guided tours of the buildings and grounds.
5. Parkers’ Lighthouse
Parkers’ Lighthouse is a restaurant built in the shape of a lighthouse that sits at the edge of Long Beach Harbor. Enjoy a magnificent waterfront view while you dine on steak, chicken, seafood, pasta, and fine wines. The Queensview Steakhouse on the third floor is a supper club that offers live music. Parkers’ Lighthouse schedules numerous special events throughout the year, including for Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas. For an incomparable experience, dine on the spacious heated outdoor patio.
6. Rosie the Riveter Park
The Rosie the Riveter Park and Interpretive Center lies on the east side of Long Beach not far from the former Douglas Aircraft Plant. The three-acre park commemorates the many women who labored on the home front at the plant in Long Beach during World War II. The park includes historic displays, a walking path with a timeline of the Douglas Aircraft Plant and the women who worked there, and 1940s-era light poles with photographs highlighting various aspects of the war at home and abroad. A memorial garden honors women and men who served in the military during the war. The park has cycling paths and bike racks with World War II symbols, and a narrative tour of the park is accessible by cell phone.
7. Long Beach Firefighters Museum
The fascinating and family-friendly Long Beach Firefighters Museum is in the center of Long Beach near the Little Cambodia neighborhood. The site displays numerous firefighting vehicles, including historic horse-drawn apparatus and hand-pulled hose carts. Retired firefighters take you on tours of the facility and explain how all the machinery works. There are also photographs, old films, uniforms, equipment, and other artifacts.
8. Retro Row
Retro Row is a section of 4th Street in downtown Long Beach that offers mid-20th-century shops and ambiance. Exploring the area on foot or by bicycle makes you feel as if you have traveled back in time. For instance, Hawleywood’s Barber Shop provides a shave with a hot towel and straight razor. The Art du Vin is a casual and cozy wine bar. Other shops sell roller skates, vintage toys, period clothing, memorabilia, and antiques. For unique souvenirs, browse through the eclectic offering at stores such as Siren, Meow, and Inretrospect.
9. Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
The lovely Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is on the campus of California State University on the east side of Long Beach. The Imperial Gardens in Tokyo provided inspiration for this breathtakingly beautiful garden, which features pristine ponds, rustic wooden bridges, flamboyant flowers, and pleasant walkways. Numerous special events take place in the garden throughout the year.
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