As a Los Angeles native and long time city dweller, Long Beach holds a special place in my heart. I've visited this beach town many times in my childhood and adulthood and I have loved bringing my own kids back. Every time I visit, I am stricken by the realization that Long Beach is a quintessential beach town, the type of beach town people envision when they dream about Los Angeles beaches.
Whether you're looking for stuff to do in Long Beach as part of a longer trip to Los Angeles, planning a day trip to Long Beach or hoping to spend the weekend, you can have an amazing time no matter how short or long your visits is. Read more to learn about my favorite Long Beach family activities and things to do in Long Beach.
Day Trip to Long Beach, Things to Do in Long Beach and Family Friendly Activities
Morning: Breakfast and Waves (9 am - 1 pm)
There are an unlimited number of amazing breakfast spots in Long Beach and I try a different one as often as I can. My personal recommendation for breakfast is Wide Eyes Open Palm for phenomenal biscuit sandwiches. I've enjoyed everything I've tried there. The cafe is also part of the Safe Spaces Alliance.
From there, you can either grab a bike, walk or drive to Junipero Beach. Parking is $2 an hour, rare find for beach parking in the LA area!
Junipero Beach is one of the best beaches for families because they have a wonderful playground, delicious food, soft sand and calm waves all in one place. Lay out your blanket, pull out your sand toys and spend a perfect afternoon at the beach. When you get hungry, walk up the beach to Saltwater Deck. The birria tacos I had were fantastic and they also offer unique ice cream flavors and alcohol for the grown ups.
Once you've had your fill of the sun and the sand, it's time to pack up and head to your afternoon activity.
Afternoon: Aquarium of the Pacific (2 pm - 5 pm)
Calling all sea creature lovers! One of Long Beach's most popular and famous attractions is the Aquarium of the Pacific. It's a wonderfully fun time for both adults and kids alike (my husband and I used to visit all the time before starting a family). The aquarium features a collection of over 11,000 animals, representing over 500 different species. My favorite areas are the sea star, anemone, sting ray and jellyfish touch tanks, the penguins and the otters.
Since reopening after the pandemic, the aquarium now requires timed reservations beforehand. Tickets are $45 per adult and $30 per child. Parking in the aquarium lot is $8 with validation and the machine to get your parking ticket stamped is directly to the left of the first floor gift shop by the exit.
If you are planning to stay in Long Beach for longer than one day, you can choose a package that includes a Harbor Cruise, Whale Watching Tour or a combo ticket for the LA Zoo. In my opinion, these packages are a better deal than a single entrance ticket.
Evening: Shoreline Village Stroll and Snacks (5 pm to 8 pm)
After leaving the aquarium, take a 10 minute walk around the marina to arrive at Shoreline Village, an adorable outdoor mall with restaurants, snacks, an arcade with a carousel and shopping. Spend a few hours wandering through the shops, enjoy a few treats to hold you over until dinner as you browse and get competitive at the Pelican Pier Pavilion arcade.
From here, you could also board a boat to sail in the Pacific, go parasailing or rent a Surrey to ride along the beach. There are so many great options of fun activities to do in Long Beach.
Dinner: At Shoreline Village or Kin Thai Restaurant
You probably worked up an appetite walking around the aquarium and the Shoreline Village. You can choose to stay in the village for dinner at Queensview Steakhouse (this restaurant has the best reviews of the eatery options in the area) or you can hop over to Kin Long Beach, Bo-Beau Kitchen, Padre or The Attic, depending on the type of cuisine you're craving and the demographics of your group. My kids are a huge fan of the Thai iced tea, noodles and orange chicken at Kin and we make a stop there every time we visit.
Where to stay in Long Beach
If you're planning on an overnight trip to Long Beach, you should stay at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach. The hotel is centrally located to the aquarium, the village, the convention center and downtown Long Beach. They offer outdoor fire pits and swan boat rides in the adjoining lake that were lit up during the holidays. It looked so fun when I drove past that it made me want to stay the night.
Day 2 Options: Whale Watching and 4th Street Corridor
If you are planning to spend two days in Long Beach, I would highly recommend booking a whale watching tour on your second day and shopping and dining along the 4th Street Corridor (also called Retro Row) between Alamitos Ave. and Junipero Ave. You can grab a coffee from Black Dog Coffee Roasters and peruse the unique bookstores and vintage shops in this area. The restaurants on this street are also great. You can't go wrong with a meal at Seabirds Kitchen for vegan food, El Barrio Cantina for modern Mexican or Little Coyote for pizza.
I love Long Beach and will make any excuse to return. If you're planning a trip to Long Beach, I hope this guide was helpful.