Best Things to do in Long Beach, California Header

The 15 Best Things to Do in Long Beach, California 

With waterfront views galore, a delicious dining scene, and a vibrant art community, Long Beach is a true California gem. The location can’t be beat, especially if you want to take a trip to Los Angeles or over to Orange County. You’re less than an hour away from Hollywood, Disneyland, and many more of the best California attractions.

But there are also many amazing things to do and see right in Long Beach. So, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Long Beach for you, from a ship with so many stories to tell to a museum that’s the first of its kind. Pick your favorite Long Beach attractions and activities from this list, and you’re bound to have an incredible time in this oceanfront city!

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1. Spot Sealife in the Aquarium of the Pacific

Best Things to do in Long Beach, California : Aquarium of the Pacific

The Aquarium of the Pacific is one of the best Long Beach attractions and is home to over 11,000 animals across more than 500 different species. Across this five-acre facility, you’ll find over 100 exhibits that’ll take you into the worlds of sea lions, penguins, jellies, and much more. 

And with interactive exhibits that make you feel like you’re truly engaging with the animals, it’s no wonder why visiting this aquarium is one of the best things to do in Long Beach!

2. Take a Ghost tour of The Queen Mary

Cool Things to do in Long Beach, California: Queen Mary

The story of the Queen Mary dates back nearly 100 years, working as both a luxury travel vessel for British royalty and Hollywood celebrities alike and later as an important vessel for the Allied forces in WWII. Today, it’s permanently docked, and visiting it is easily one of the coolest things to do in Long Beach.

While you can stay on the Queen Mary, you don’t have to book a room to experience the iconic ship. Tours are available, including one that takes you into the very haunted history of the vessel. 

3. Have a Day at the Beach

Unique Things to do in Long Beach, California: Beach Day

The name Long Beach is a little misleading. There are actually many beaches to explore around here, and doing so is one of the most popular Long Beach activities. Take little ones to enjoy the play area and calm waves of Mother’s Beach, let your dogs run free off-leash at Rosie’s Dog Beach, or take in the incredible views from Junipero or Cherry Beach.

4. Visit the Long Beach Museum of Art

Are you an art lover? You should add the Long Beach Museum of Art to your Long Beach bucket list. This museum houses a permanent collection of over 4,000 paintings, sculptures, and more works of art from all different mediums. It’s also home to a number of community events happening all the time, from art lectures to artisan markets to family art workshops.

5. See Masterpieces at the Museum of Latin American Art

The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) is truly one-of-a-kind and a must-do thing in Long Beach. MOLAA is the only museum in the US dedicated to contemporary Latin American and Latino art. The permanent collection contains over 1,300 works of art from Latino artists and includes a stunning 15,000-square-foot sculpture garden. 

As a cultural center, this museum also hosts many events that bring the community together, like children’s workshops, adult workshops, live concerts, and parties.

6. Visit the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum

The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM) is also in a league of its own, offering one of the most unique things to do in Long Beach. PIEAM is the only Pacific Island museum in the continental US and seeks to shine a light on a culture that’s often underrepresented in art museums. 

See pieces of art with cultural significance and learn how they were used by the Pacific Island people.

7. Shop and Dine at Shoreline Village

Fun Things to do in Long Beach, California: Shoreline Village

Boasting breathtaking waterfront views, spending some time in Shoreline Village is one of the coolest things to do in Long Beach. This entertainment district is much more than a shopping center, although there are several shops to explore here. 

But there’s also fine dining on the water, harbor cruises, sailing excursions, parasailing opportunities, a glass-bottom boat tour, and games and rides that are fun for the whole family.

8. Explore the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Long Beach, California Bucket List: Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Located on 1.3 acres on the campus of California State University, Long Beach, the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is one of the best sights in Long Beach. This living museum is a place of culture and tranquility, from the colorful koi swimming beside you to the Tea House, where you can enjoy a cup of tea while you take in the view. 

The garden also offers unique cultural exhibits and events, like yoga classes, that bring the community together in a peaceful environment. Be sure to make a reservation if you want to visit, as the garden is sometimes closed for events. 

9. Be Amazed at the Great Sand Sculpture Contest

Must do Things in Long Beach, California: Great Sand Sculpture Contest

Taking place each summer, the Great Sand Sculpture Contest is one of the most fun things to do in Long Beach, even if you’re not an artist yourself. Enjoy festivities for the whole family, including a market with local artisan goods, live music, a kids’ zone, and a bar right on the beach.

At the heart of it all is a competition where the real winners are all the visitors who get to see the sculptures. You’ll see masterpieces by world-renowned professional sand artists and up-and-coming artists alike.

10. Go Whale Watching

What to do in Long Beach, California: Whale Watching

Long Beach is one of the best places to go whale watching, which is why embarking on a whale-watching tour is one of the must-do things in Long Beach during your trip. The best part is that you’re likely to see whales all year round, although the type you’ll see varies. 

Catch a glimpse of gray whales or humpback whales from January through April, blue whales and finback whales from May to September, and minke whales from October to December.

11. Go to the Art Walk at the East Village Arts District

The East Village Arts District is a downtown hotspot known for its unique shopping, dining, and entertainment. But it’s also the artistic center of Long Beach, which is why spending time here needs to be on your “things to do in Long Beach” list. 

This district is where you’ll find PIEAM, MOLAA, and the Long Beach Museum of Art’s downtown branch, as well as a paint-and-sip location, a pottery studio, and a silversmith studio. But the East Village really comes to life with its Art Walk, where you’ll hear live music, get treats from local vendors, and see tons of art from local artists.

12. Get in a Round of Golf

Long Beach, California Things to do: Golf

Long Beach is home to several golf courses, though there are more than 50 in the surrounding area of Long Beach. If you want a great day out on the links, golfing is one of the top Long Beach activities for you. 

One of the best places to play is the El Dorado Park Golf Course. Once you’re done playing, the park has much more to offer you and your family, like a small amusement park designed to look like it belongs in the Gold Rush, two lakes stocked with fish, an archery range, a skate park, and the El Dorado Nature Center.

13. Take a Day Trip to Catalina Island

Best Things to do in Long Beach, California: Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a great day trip option from Long Beach, where you can enjoy relaxing on pristine beaches, engaging in all types of watersports, taking in the views from aerial ropes courses, or getting an up-close look at the island’s famous bison that are now cared for by the Catalina Island Conservancy

Getting to Catalina Island from Long Beach is easy. All you need to do is take a ride on the Catalina Express ferry!

14. Take an Outdoor Yoga Class

Best Things to do in Long Beach, California: Outdoor Yoga Class

Yogalution offers one of the most unique things to do in Long Beach: “Yoga on the Bluff.” Every day, Yogalution provides the Long Beach community with a free outdoor yoga class. 

Located on the corner of Ocean and Junipero on a grass bluff, this fun Long Beach activity allows you to enjoy a relaxing and reenergizing class while you take in the Pacific Ocean views.

15. Rent a Swan Boat at Rainbow Lagoon

Cool Things to do in Long Beach, California: Rainbow Lagoon

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Long Beach, you’ll love that renting a swan boat at Rainbow Lagoon has been a Long Beach tradition for generations. These family-friendly, pedal-powered boats let you take in the beauty of the park from the water. At night, these swans light up with LED lights, creating an even more romantic ride!

There you have it—the 15 best things to do in Long Beach, California. What’s your favorite thing to do in Long Beach? Drop us a note and let us know!

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About the Author

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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