Just southwest of Los Angeles on the Southern California coastline is Long Beach, the beautiful home to the Queen Mary, 12 miles of beach frontage and a portfolio of family fun. During a recent trip, my wife and I vacationed in Long Beach with our three small children, aged 3-8.
In Long Beach, we found a top beach destination that’s teeming with amazing food, beach fun galore and other experiences that every family seeking SoCal family fun should know about.
Staying in the heart of it all
Our home for our stint in Long Beach was the Hyatt Regency. The hotel itself is fabulous, with dramatic ocean views from our 17th story room. It’s right across the street from the beach and tourist friendly waterfront area.
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The first thing you’ll notice right away is how hospitable, friendly and hard working the Hilton Regency’s staff is. From the moment you drive up, they go out of their way to make you feel welcome and at home.
Hyatt Regency’s on-site restaurant is perfect for family meals. We had breakfast at the buffet and found yummy breakfast foods for all of our kids from eggs, to yogurt to waffles. The buffet is amongst the best I’ve had at a hotel. Everyone left satisfied and full. 🙂
Our accommodations at the Hyatt Regency included a suite, which featured a kitchen, sitting area and large media viewing area. Our sleeping quarters were an adjoining standard room 2 bedroom queen beds that had a sweeping beauty of Pacific Ocean. The rooms were well decorated and the beds are quite comfortable!
Eating in style
Upon our arrival into Long Beach, our first stop after the hotel was at Brix on the Shore. This lovely New York-influenced Jewish Deli that is perfect for a couple’s night or full fledged family dinner.
We were lucky enough to have the owner of Brix come to our table and tell us about Brix’s focus on family-friendly dining. He told us the stories of his family meals growing up and how kids were always around during large family meals and he strived to create the same warm feeling in his establishment.
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Brix On The Shore has an amazing wine list, fantastic beer line up and Italian sodas for the kids. The amazing drinks, food and casual setting make for a magical time for family dining.
For breakfast the next morning, we were lucky enough to eat at The Breakfast Bar. This restaurant is family owned and features Long Beach’s best breakfast, in my opinion. The service was outstanding and this restaurant showed off how trendy and fun downtown Long Beach has become in recent years!
Long Beach’s spectacular activities
During our stay in Long Beach, we spent the majority of the time on or near the water. Long Beach boasts miles and miles of coastline and it’s all stunningly beautiful.
On our first night in Long Beach, we boarded a gondola with Gondola Getaways.
We were lucky that it was a full moon. Our gondolier was a spectacular young man named Jake who’s been rowing for 4 straight summers. He told us that many gondoliers have been employed for 4-10 years each as they love the job and the business they work for.
As we made our way through the Canals of Long Beach Harbor, Jake told us about interesting architecture and notable houses along the way. Under bridges, he sang exceptionally well.
The gondolas can hold groups from 4-15, so no matter how big your family is, check out Gondola Getaways.
Staying with the water theme, we headed over to the Queen Mary. Our tour host was none other than Commodore Everett himself. Commodore Everett told us about the inner-operations of the ship, its decorated history and the history of the cruising industry. The Queen Mary is such a historic and interesting ship to explore.
We learned that the Queen Mary is home to many featured festivals and occasions throughout the year. From a haunted adventure during Halloween time to ice sculptures in during the Christmas timeframe.
We dined on the Queen Mary and had a fun meal. The ship also a working hotel, so you can stay there as your home base if you so choose. 🙂
Near the Queen Mary is the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach’s main waterfront area. The aquarium is a non-profit institution focused on marine education and awareness. We spent 3 hours walking through the displays, touching starfish and tides pools and watching rays glide through the water with ease.
One heads up about the Aquarium of the Pacific, if you’re already parked in the general area, be sure to walk to the aquarium. There’s paid parking nearby but this is one way to save a few dollars.
Long Beach offers family friendly fun in the heart of the LA metro area. Flying in and out of Long Beach Airport is highly recommended as it’s a one-terminal airport with on-site rental car retrieval and drop off, making logistics super easy for families. There are amazing freshly prepared food options in the café area and ample selection of wine/beers if you choose to partake.
I’d like to say a special thank you to the Long Beach Visitors and Convention Board for assisting with the hotels/meals and activities while we were in the Long Beach area. Their help, along with Visit California was critical in making this trip possible.