As you might expect, there are plenty of things to see and do in Long Beach, California. The abundant oceanfront and water-based attractions are well known, but they’re not the only things Long Beach is famous for.

Long Beach also boasts a few lesser-known gems that celebrate its people and diverse cultures. It’s also a good base from which to dip into greater Los Angeles with a day trip or two. Alternatively, there are nearby islands like Santa Catalina to check out.

We’ve put together a list of some of the best things you can do while you’re in Long Beach, CA. Take a look at the amazing things Long beach has to offer whether you’re alone, traveling with kids, or with your special someone.

Unlock Our GREATEST Travel Secrets!

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best travel tips delivered right to your inbox.










    Top Things to Do in Long Beach

    Any attempt at backpacking Los Angeles would never be complete without taking a look at Long Beach. Here are the top attractions that money and willpower can inevitably unlock…

    1. Aquarium of the Pacific

    Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California

    The Broke Backpacker is supported by you. Clicking through our links may earn us a small affiliate commission, and that's what allows us to keep producing free content 🙂 Learn more.

    One of Long Beach’s most popular attractions is the extraordinary Aquarium of the Pacific, a large-scale aquarium and science center. The focus here, as its name suggests, is on the marine life of the Pacific Ocean.

    Something that young people may find especially interesting is the Molina Animal Care Center, which offers a look into veterinary care. There’s also a penguin colony resident in the June Keyes Penguin Habitat, which always dials up the cuteness factor by 10.

    2. Catch a Terrific View from Hilltop Park

    Hilltop Park, Long Beach

    Also known as Signal Hill, this lookout point is popular for picnics, relaxing and light hiking. But it’s most famous for its amazing view of Long Beach and out over the ocean. Looking the other way, some claim to see all the way to downtown Los Angeles (nearly 20+ miles) and even Santa Monica on a good day.

    It’s a great spot to catch a sunset, too. You can access the top from the north side or the southside which is longer but easier. There are numerous plaques explaining what you can see and where you are, and best of all, it’s totally free! You can’t miss Signal Hill when you stay in Long Beach.

    3. Catch the Big One from Newport Beach

    Fishing trip in Newport Beach

    Try nabbing a deep-sea California coast gamefish from a cruise boat. You don’t have to be an expert either, as novices are welcome. The crew is there to advise and assist, so you’ve got the best possible chance of success.

    Barracuda, red snapper, halibut, sea bass and more are known to frequent the waters up and down the coast from Long beach. The boats are usually fully equipped with sundecks, refreshments and all the gear you’ll need for a half-day outing.

    4. Dig into Ancient Cultures at the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum

    PIEAM is a unique museum celebrating the people, history, and culture of Oceania. The Pacific Islands and its people are diverse, but this museum celebrates all of them through exhibits and talks.

    The small museum is a wealth of curated history, offering artifacts, artwork, textiles, a small bookstore, and a “backyard exhibit”, which may also occasionally host events. Exhibits change, but have included fascinating topics like birthing, parental traditions, and tattoo culture.

    5. Find the best Food in Long Beach

    Food walking tour in Long Beach

    It’s always good to get local advice on what and where to eat in a new city. In Long Beach, you’ll want to find out what a flaming cheese is, for example. Also, cold-pressed juices are a thing here – want to know why?

    Take yourself on a walking exploration of some of the city’s best food joints. You’ll not only cover a couple of miles around downtown Long Beach but also stop at half a dozen of the neighborhood’s finest eateries to sample the wares.

    6. Dip into Cocktail Culture in the East Village

    Cocktail tour in Long Beach

    What’s better than a tasty cocktail? An interesting story behind that tasty cocktail, maybe? Craft cocktails are trendy in Long Beach. If you know where to go, you can find mixologists who fine-tune their mixes to a taster’s benefit and give you a backstory.

    How did the Old Fashioned come into being? Are tequila and mezcal the same thing? Your mixologist will be able to answer most of your questions. Nothing wrong with that.

    Small Pack Problems? 😉

    Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

    These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

    Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

    Get Yours Here Read Our Review

    Unusual Things to Do in Long Beach

    If you’re on the hunt for something a little quirkier, try these unusual things available in Long Beach.

    7. Get Medieval at an Old-Timey Tournament

    Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament in Long Beach

    It’s not every day you get to see a joust or a duel in a medieval arena. But this super fun bit of oddball extravagance lets you take in the grandeur of an 11th-century sports day.

    The actors and athletes play it up as they battle with lances, swords and other period weapons. They also parade their horses and horsemanship and present their falconry. All of this for the Queen, who sits in attendance.

    The show is accompanied by a four-course meal and plenty of raucous crowd banter, much like a family Thanksgiving.

    8. Pay Respects to The Queen Mary

    The Queen Mary, Long Beach, California

    The Queen Mary is a storied ship, first launched in 1936. She held the esteemed Blue Riband for several of her service years – this is an award given to the ship that crosses the Atlantic at the fastest average speed.

    Today she is permanently moored in Long Beach, and is a hotel and museum, with various tourist-focused amenities. It is even said that the ship is haunted, and there’s a special presentation exploring this! Truly a fascinating look into the golden era of passenger liners.

    9. Visit the Skinniest House in Long Beach

    Skinny House, Long Beach
    Photo: DRosenbach (WikiCommons)

    Could you live in a house just 10 feet wide? Get a taste for what that’s like here in Gladys Avenue, at a house that was allegedly built on a dare. It’s three storeys tall and has two bedrooms and a deck, so it’s got all the facilities. It’s just that it’s… narrow.

    The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes it as the skinniest house in America. Through the years it has been occupied by residents and even operated as a business for a short while. It’s now a registered city landmark and can be visited by the public.

    Safety in Long Beach

    Tourists and visitors are generally safe in the key areas of Long Beach. However, like any major city, Long Beach has a few trouble spots. With a bit of common-sense and care taken, you should be fairly secure in and around downtown, the beach, and the coastal areas.

    That said, it’s always best not to be careless with your valuables, especially expensive cameras or jewelry. Also, try to stay in brightly lit areas with many people around at night. There’s no reason you can’t have a great, trouble-free stay in Long Beach.

    Read our tips for traveling safely before you fly and always get travel insurance. Check out our roundup of the best travel insurance.

    Travel with peace of mind. Travel WITH a security belt.
    Active Roots Security Belt

    Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

    It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

    Hide Yo’ Money!

    Things to Do in Long Beach at Night

    Nighttime in Long Beach can be lots of fun. Try taking part in one of these fun activities.

    10. Take a Paint and Sip Class for fun

    There are lots of Artsy things to do in Long Beach. Brushstrokes and Beverages is a traveling paint class led by an instructor, who guides you through painting the chosen subject of the night.

    This is a traveling class, so it’s in a different location every night – a coffee shop, a studio, or a bar. Because of the sip element, you’ll probably find some attempts at Van Gogh turn out more interesting than the original.

    11. The Exhibition Room

    Going to a bar is all good and well. But why not add a sense of exclusivity and secrecy to your evening out? Of all the things to do in downtown Long Beach, The Exhibition Room presents itself as the most intriguing.

    To gain access, you’ll need to text a number and wait for the password. Then it’s off to find the phone booth, which is actually the entrance. Once inside, it’s like stepping into a different timeline. They encourage you to dress as outrageously classy as you can (though business casual is actually fine)

    For their part, they’ll curate a cocktail and party experience that they guarantee you’ll want to remember. In fact, it’s so good, you may not want to talk about it.

    Where to Stay in Long Beach – Downtown

    Downtown is close to most of the attractions you want to see, while the waterfront is great for that holiday feel, close as it is to the beaches and pier. If you’re a night owl, the East Village is your ticket. Here are some really good accommodation options in Long Beach, regardless.

    Best Airbnb in Long Beach – Boho Beach Retreat

    Boho Beach Retreat Airbnb, Long Beach

    This pretty guesthouse is positioned perfectly within walking distance of the beach, and just a short ride from Orange County and Disneyland. It has an open-plan feel, is breezy and elevated, and situated on the second floor.

    The huge windows let in plenty of light, and because it’s a residential area, it’s quiet enough to get some well-earned rest after all the exploration.

    Best Hotel in Long Beach – Hotel Royal

    Hotel Royal, Long Beach, California

    There’s always an extra charm to a hotel when each of its rooms is decorated differently. For a boutique hotel, the pricing is of exceptional value as well, especially since the hotel offers free bicycle use when you stay there.

    Most major Long Beach things to do are within a mile of the hotel, so you cannot ask for a better base from which to explore the city. With the added option of a free bicycle to use, and the charm of the art-deco accommodation to retire to each evening, what’s not to like?

    Romantic Things to Do in Long Beach

    Traveling with a significant other? You must try these things to do in Long Beach for couples!

    12. Feel the Amore on an Authentic Gondola Ride

    Naples Island Canal

    When the moon hits your eye in Long Beach, take your date out on a romantic gondola ride through the Naples island canals. The calm waterways and scenic view of the islands and bridges make you feel as though you’re in a local version of Venice.

    Adding to that are the gondoliers themselves, many of whom regale you with stories of the legendary city, while making you feel like you really have been there. This is definitely one of the top things to do in Long Beach.

    13. Take a Sunset Walk Along the Pine Avenue Pier

    Another one of the most unique things to do in Long Beach. The Pier at sunset simply invites a leisurely walk, hand-in-hand, as the lights of eateries, bars and pubs are just being turned on.

    The views including the Queen Mary in the harbor and the lighthouse on the hill at dusk create that wonderful feeling of calm. Walk all along the pier, all the way to the lighthouse. Stop for a snack or a drink along the way, as the sounds of the evening begin to fill the air.

    Best Free Things to Do in Long Beach

    Not everything costs money in Long Beach. Here are a few things to do in Long Beach on a budget of absolutely zero!

    14. Visit Vibrant Belmont Shore

    Belmont Shore, Long Beach

    Belmont Shore offers a couple of things that can fill an afternoon. First, hang out on the beach or in one of the lagoons. Serious shoppers can stop by the Marketplace or the Marina Pacifica Mall, which are close-by.

    If you feel like taking a break from the sun and sand, stroll along Second Street, which is a hub for shopping, coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. You can also access Naples and its bridges and canals from here if you want to double down on that Italian feeling.

    15. Hike Around the El Dorado Nature Center

    El Dorado Nature Center
    Photo: tdlucas5000 (Flickr)

    Get away from the noise and rush of a big city in the city itself. This is the perfect place for a long walk – there are nearly two miles of trails to follow. There’s a fairly active schedule of events too, so check out the calendar for guided walks, talks and special events like plant sales and cleanup days!

    Our favorites are the night walks that focus on the nocturnal animals found in the park. Best of all, pedestrians and cyclists do not pay an entrance fee.

    Books to Read in Long Beach

    Scar Tissue – The auto-biography of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s lead vocalist, Anthony Kiedes “rocked” my world the first time I read it. The story is about his entire life, from growing up in the City of Angels surrounded by drugs and bad influences, to becoming a rockstar. Any RHCP fan should read this; even if you’re not a fan, you’ll enjoy this book as it’s an inside look into Hollywood in the 70s through 90s.

    The Mountains of California – The musings and ramblings of John Muir, one of the most famous and beloved naturalism in American history.

    Slouching Towards Bethlehem – A collection essays about some of California’s greatest icons including John Wayne, Howard Hughes, and the Haight neighborhood of San Fran.

    Our GREATEST Travel Secrets…

    Pop your email here & get the original Broke Backpacker Bible for FREE.










      Best Things to Do in Long Beach with Kids

      If you’re traveling with kids, Long Beach has something to offer them too.

      16. Romeo’s Chocolate Making Workshop

      While Romeo’s is no doubt a place for adults, too, they’ve found a novel way to occupy your kids while you partake in a chocolate tasting of your own. The chocolate making workshop is an educational experience that allows kids to create and personalize their own chocolate bars.

      Along the way, they’ll learn where chocolate comes from and how it is made, and of course, get to taste a few different flavors. And yes, they have workshops for adults, too.

      17. Battleship USS IOaeWA Museum

      Battleship USS IOWA Museum

      There’s another ship in the permanent dock in Long Beach that presents a chance to see a historical relic. Though it’s a military ship, it’s been rated by CBS Los Angeles as one of its recommended “Best Cool Exhibits to See With Your Kids”.

      Kids do in fact find the deck tours quite exciting, so parents can let the supervisors and guides take over the talking for a while. The kids’ scavenger hunt is also a highlight!

      The USS Iowa also happens to be the only battleship museum open to the public on the West Coast of the US. So it’s well worth a visit if you’re in town.

      Day Trips from Long Beach

      If you’re looking for things to do outside Long Beach, try one of these day trips.

      Dive Dive Dive with Nautilus Semi-Submarine

      Nautilus Semi-Submarine

      Take the boat to Santa Catalina island to catch this unique submarine. You get to view the marine life, kelp and undersea world of the Pacific from your very own porthole.

      The submarine you’ll ride was actually designed in the likeness of the USS Nautilus, which was a nuclear-powered sub in the US Navy. As a bonus, the crew will regale you with some fascinating stories about life under the sea.

      Go on the LA Grand Tour

      LA Grand Tour

      Make your way to Sunset Boulevard, and take a 7-hour mega-trip through the City of Angels on an open-top bus. The trip takes in stops at Santa Monica Pier, a farmer’s market, and shopping You’ll also stop by famous landmarks like the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and more.

      All along the way, the guide offers amazing and interesting tidbits of information about the city and its people. It’s one of the best day trips from Long Beach, it’s affordable, and you don’t even have to do the driving!

      Save $$$ • Save the Planet • Save Your Stomach!
      backpacker drinking using grayl geopress filter bottle

      Drink water from ANYWHERE. The Grayl Geopress is the worlds leading filtered water bottle protecting you from all manner of waterborne nasties.

      Single-use plastic bottles are a MASSIVE threat to marine life. Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle. Save money and the environment!

      We’ve tested the Geopress rigorously from the icy heights of Pakistan to the tropical jungles of Bali, and can confirm: it’s the best water bottle you’ll ever buy!

      View on REI Read the Review

      3 Day Itinerary in Long Beach

      Three days in Long Beach isn’t very long. But make the most of it with this handy itinerary.

      Day 1 – Hug the Coastline

      The main appeal of Long Beach is the shoreline, especially if you’re visiting from a place that isn’t near the ocean. It’s a day for outdoor things to do in Long Beach – shorelines, canals and other waterways of the area are just some of the places you’ll explore.

      Long Beach Harbor

      Start on a high at the Aquarium of the Pacific, then visit the aquatic park. You may want to see the activity at the Port of Long Beach, too. While you’re in that area, visit the legendary ship The Queen Mary.

      A little across the way you’ll find Terminal Island, the Korean Friendship Bell and the US Iowa.

      Day 2 – Explore the Culture

      Start day two with a look around the Museum of Latin American Art. Then push inland towards Hilltop Park and Signal Hill to see the lay of the land. You can see for miles on a good day.

      Sunset in Long Beach

      It’s a good idea to do a day trip to LA for that slice of Hollywood on your trip. If you have time, sports fans can take a tour of the Dodgers Stadium on the other side of town.

      Head back towards Belmont shore for a bit of bohemian shopping, and hang out on the Second street for a while. Finally, experience the authentic Italian gondola ride in the place they call Naples.

      Day 3 – Fun and Games

      We’ve still got lots of things to do in Long Beach today. Hit one of the many, many beaches available. Rosie’s Dog Beach is especially fun, as the only off-leash dog beach in the city. If pups aren’t for you, Long Beach City Beach, Mother’s Beach or Junipero should suit your needs.

      Get a chocolate fix and make some at Romeo’s, after you’ve tried the wine pairing, of course. Spend the afternoon hours on a romantic sunset walk along the pier. Visit the lighthouse at sunset for one final amazing visual memory of your stay in Long Beach.

      Then it’s off for your final night of celebration. Find the exhibition room and enjoy an evening in old-style cocktail revelry.

      Don’t forget your travel insurance for Long Beach

      ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

      They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

      SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

      Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

      FAQ on Things to Do in Long Beach

      Here are some quick answers to common questions about what to do and see in Long Beach.

      Conclusion

      Long Beach offers fun and unique things to do for visitors. It provides the traditional appeal of a coastal city – beaches and nightlife. But it also offers the unique draws of two legendary sailing vessels as museums and cultural museums of the Pacific and Latin America.

      There is indeed something for everyone here, and you may find that three days is too little time in which to explore what to do in Long Beach.