How To Make the Most of a Long Beach Layover
Photos by Gary Crow
Whether you are hopping on a cruise or just need a spot near, but not in, Los Angeles to spend a night or two, Long Beach may be the SoCal town you have been looking for.
Great news! You may be able to skip LAX. A handful of major airlines fly into Long Beach Airport (LGB). JetBlue can get you there from as far away as New York, Boston, Austin, or Anchorage in addition to many West Coast airports. Southwest has routes from Oakland, and even Delta and American now have routes that include Long Beach. No fear, even if your plans include landing at LAX, Long Beach is a short car ride away.
Long Beach offers an amazing array of choices. All the big chains are available if that's your preference or if you are a points minder. The Hotel Maya by DoubleTree may be the best in that category with its waterfront location and newly renovated resort atmosphere. If boutique is more your thing, try The Varden, built in 1929. The hotel has a long history in Downtown Long Beach, and now serves as its premier Euro-style boutique hotel. It's close to the action, but with affordable pricing below the $200 mark.
You can always choose to live like a local with a vacation rental. There is no shortage of options-- from oceanfront condos to backyard bungalows. Or maybe you'd like to sleep on the water. There are live-aboard boats for rental by the night on TripAdvisor.
The one Long Beach accommodation option that cannot be duplicated anywhere else is the Queen Mary, where you can sleep in the actual guest cabins for a taste of what it might have been like to cross the Atlantic in the Golden Age. Rates begin as low as $149 per night, but packages that include meals and/or spa treatments are usually available as well.
Not to be missed
The Pike Outlets, commonly referred to as simply "The Pike," is where you'll find an amazing array of shopping, dining, and recreation conveniently located near the convention center. And across the boulevard from The Pike is the Aquarium of the Pacific. This compact aquarium is a showcase of life in and around the Pacific. There are hands-on exhibits and close-up looks at otters, seals and sea lions, stingrays and sharks. After you explore the aquarium, stroll the paths of the Shoreline Aquatic Park for views across the harbor and Queensway Bay.
Of course, the best way to enjoy any city by the sea is to actually get on the water. Boats4Rent has two Long Beach locations with options that include power boats, personal watercraft, and electric Duffy boats to cruise the harbor.
If time permits
Plan your stopover with an extra day and spend it on Santa Catalina Island. Ferry across the sea in style aboard Catalina Express boats that make the run from Long Beach with a schedule that allows for easy day tripping. Once on the island, enjoy shopping, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, hiking, and zip lining. Or spend time touring the iconic Catalina Casino Building or the Catalina Island Museum in their new location.
It is possible to layover in Long Beach without a rental car. Many of the attractions are within walking distance from one another, with well-laid out pedestrian walkways in most areas. Taxis and ride shares are available for the attractions that are too far apart to walk. Best of all, hotels, shops, and even the aquarium are quite accommodating when it comes to luggage storage if you want to enjoy local activities before or after a cruise departure.
More by Melinda Crow
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