Long Beach Water Lantern Festival

Hidden Gems of Long Beach: Off-the-Beaten-Path Attractions and Activities

Welcome to Long Beach, a Southern California gem that offers a compelling blend of history, culture, and entertainment. While often overlooked in favor of more famous neighbors like Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Long Beach boasts a vibrant cityscape filled with unique attractions waiting to be discovered.

This guide will lead you away from the well-trodden tourist paths and into the heart of the city, revealing hidden spots beloved by locals. From the stunning views at Bluff Park to the historic Queen Mary ship, from the diverse culinary delights at hole-in-the-wall restaurants to enchanting art installations in unexpected places, you’ll find an array of things to do and places to explore.

Whether you’re looking for serene parks, engaging museums, or bustling shopping districts like Retro Row, Long Beach has something to suit every traveler’s taste. So, immerse yourself in this guide and prepare to experience Long Beach in a truly authentic way.

Unique Parks and Gardens

El Dorado Nature Center

Tucked away from the city’s hustle and bustle, El Dorado Nature Center is a green oasis spanning 105 acres, offering a peaceful respite for nature lovers. The Center features enchanting hiking trails, shimmering lakes, and an abundance of wildlife, providing an immersive experience of Southern California’s rich biodiversity. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in serene greenery, observe an array of animals, and embrace the calming beauty of nature, all within the city limits of Long Beach.

Rancho Los Alamitos

Rancho Los Alamitos is an important historic site in Long Beach, offering a fascinating glimpse into Southern California’s past. The beautifully preserved ranch house, lush gardens, and ancient sacred Tongva village site allow visitors to step back in time and experience the rich, multilayered history of this unique location.

Art and Culture

Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)

MOLAA, the Museum of Latin American Art, stands as a radiant symbol of cultural diversity and artistic expression in Long Beach. Housing an extensive collection of contemporary and modern art from Latin America, it invites visitors on an enriching journey through the dynamic creativity and vibrant history of this remarkable region.

Long Beach Museum of Art

Nestled atop a picturesque bluff with breathtaking ocean vistas, the Long Beach Museum of Art presents an exquisite fusion of natural beauty and artistic brilliance. Within its walls, an extraordinary collection awaits, spanning a diverse array of masterful paintings, captivating sculptures, and exquisite decorative pieces. This intimate setting and exceptional curation combine to create an enchanting haven for discerning art connoisseurs, a true hidden gem awaiting discovery.

Waterfront Delights

Naples Canals

Discover the enchanting Naples Canals of Long Beach, a hidden gem inspired by the waterways of Italy. Immerse yourself in the tranquility and romance of this picturesque neighborhood, with winding canals, arched bridges, and colorful homes. Experience a European-style ambiance in Southern California, whether you take a leisurely stroll, enjoy a boat ride, or admire the canals from charming bridges. Naples Canals promises an unforgettable addition to your Long Beach journey, offering a unique and captivating experience. 

Shoreline Village

Long Beach’s Shoreline Village is a vibrant destination that offers a delightful medley of experiences for locals and tourists alike. As one of the city’s most cherished waterfront locales, it marries the allure of a sun-drenched, palm-lined Californian coast with a myriad of attractions to suit the tastes of every kind of traveler. Whether it’s a leisurely day trip or an extended stay, Shoreline Village never ceases to captivate its visitors. 

Shoreline Village offers a vibrant experience with its unique shops, delightful eateries, and charming boardwalk. Capture the beauty of picturesque palm trees and colorful buildings. Enjoy water activities like cruises in Alamitos Bay or trips to Catalina Island. Lively festivals fill the air, adding to its irresistible charm. Discover the rich and vibrant life of Long Beach beyond its beautiful beaches at Shoreline Village.

Historic Wonders

The Queen Mary

Step aboard the historic RMS Queen Mary and immerse yourself in maritime history. Once a luxury ocean liner, the Queen Mary now serves as a hotel, museum, and event venue. Explore its storied past, view impressive exhibits, and even stay in one of its vintage staterooms. This hidden gem is a unique way to experience Long Beach’s maritime heritage.

Rancho Los Cerritos

Rancho Los Cerritos is a living testament to Long Beach’s vibrant history, capturing the spirit of different eras under one roof. A significant part of the United States’ past, this historic wonder is a must-visit destination for tourists, families, friends, or anyone hungry for a walk down memory lane. Standing amidst the scenic landscape, the ranch house breathes life into the tales of yesteryears while its sprawling gardens host a variety of trees, providing a tranquil space to unwind.

The site offers a chance to immerse oneself in the bygone times, with buildings teeming with antique furniture and amenities reminiscent of the past and the air filled with stories waiting to be unearthed. A tour of this place reveals the nuances of life during the Mexican and American periods, offering a rich and enlightening experience. In addition to the historical relevance, Rancho Los Cerritos is a delightful spot for a day trip, featuring a beautiful garden, a book shop, and plenty of space for children to play. Whether you’re a history buff, an avid traveler, or a local resident on a day out, this place promises a memorable trip.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Dining

Portfolio Coffeehouse

Portfolio Coffeehouse is a charming and artistic café that offers a delightful selection of coffee beverages and delectable pastries. It has become a beloved destination for locals who relish its cozy ambiance and ever-evolving art displays. Indulge in a cup of your preferred brew and immerse yourself in the captivating, creative vibe of this hidden treasure.

La Parolaccia Osteria

La Parolaccia Osteria is a must-visit culinary gem nestled among the bustling streets of Long Beach, offering an unforgettable gastronomic adventure. The restaurant serves authentic Italian cuisine that engages the palate and captivates the heart, making it a top spot on the list of dining destinations for tourists, locals, and anyone in search of a memorable meal. 

Its warm and inviting ambiance, combined with a menu that boasts a variety of mouth-watering dishes, makes La Parolaccia Osteria a perfect spot for a lunch date, a family dinner, or a celebratory feast with friends. Whether you’re winding down from a day trip exploring the city’s rich history, art scene, and beaches or just looking for a unique dining experience after a day spent soaking in the sun by the Alamitos Bay or browsing the Pike Outlets, this charming Osteria ensures an experience that is as delightful as the city itself.

Unforgettable Events

Long Beach Water Lantern Festival

Indulge in an enchanting evening at the Long Beach Water Lantern Festival. This extraordinary event offers you the opportunity to adorn and set loose your own lantern on the water, resulting in a captivating spectacle of shimmering lights. It’s an experience that fosters a genuine connection with the community and creates cherished, lifelong memories.

Long Beach Antique Market

For those who have a penchant for thrilling treasure hunts, the Long Beach Antique Market is an unmissable monthly event. Delve into a vast assortment of vintage items, collectibles, and one-of-a-kind discoveries. Whether you are an experienced collector or simply seeking a distinctive keepsake, this hidden gem of an occasion caters to all. 

In conclusion, Long Beach, a hidden jewel nestled in Southern California, teems with captivating attractions and activities off the beaten path. From lush parks and captivating museums to charming canals and delectable dining, this city embodies limitless possibilities. Don’t confine your visit to the well-known spots; instead, immerse yourself in the heart of Long Beach, where treasures await at every turn. Embrace exploration, indulge your senses, and create memories that will stand the test of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Long Beach a hidden gem in Southern California?

Long Beach is a hidden gem due to its diverse array of off-the-beaten-path attractions and activities. From its rich history exhibited in places like Rancho Los Alamitos to its vibrant arts scene showcased in the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach offers a unique and engaging experience for its visitors.

Can you recommend some unique attractions in Long Beach?

Absolutely! Delve into the city’s maritime history on board the historic ship, The Queen Mary, or step back in time at the 19th-century adobe ranch house, Rancho Los Cerritos. For art enthusiasts, the Long Beach Museum of Art and MOLAA offer captivating collections. Nature lovers will enjoy the El Dorado Nature Center and the charming Naples Canals.

What are some unique dining experiences in Long Beach?

Long Beach offers diverse dining experiences. Portfolio Coffeehouse is an artistic café beloved by locals, offering a cozy ambiance and an array of coffee beverages and pastries. For an authentic Italian experience, visit La Parolaccia Osteria, known for its warm atmosphere and delectable Italian menu. The waterfront Shoreline Village also boasts a range of exquisite seafood restaurants.

Are there any special events to look out for in Long Beach?

Yes! The Long Beach Water Lantern Festival is an enchanting evening event that offers a spectacle of shimmering lights on the water. For vintage lovers, the Long Beach Antique Market is a monthly event where you can hunt for collectibles and one-of-a-kind treasures.

Can you suggest some outdoor activities in Long Beach?

Long Beach offers plentiful outdoor activities. Explore the serene Naples Canals on a romantic gondola ride, or take a leisurely stroll through Bluff Park for picturesque ocean views. For more adventurous visitors, try hiking trails in the El Dorado Nature Center or take a boat ride from the vibrant Shoreline Village.

Picture of Mara Swick
Mara Swick

Mara Swick is a seasoned licensed massage therapist and esthetician with over two decades of expertise. Her profound knowledge and hands-on experience make her a trusted voice in holistic wellness and skin care.