Thinking of visiting Long Beach, CA? Here are our five favorite family-friendly things to do there!
Aquarium of the Pacific: This aquarium, open 9 am to 6 pm daily (except Christmas Day and during the weekend of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 11-13, 2014) is Southern California’s largest aquarium. It displays more than 11,000 animals in over 50 exhibits that represent the diversity of the Pacific Ocean. There are lots of interactive opportunities for kids. They can touch sharks in the 10,000-square-foot Shark Lagoon, feed birds in the 3,200-square-foot Lorikeet Forest, and get up close with Magellanic Penguins in the new June Keyes Penguin Habitat. Kids will love splashing around in the giant water-squirting squid playground sculpture. There are also sea otters, rays, sea turtles, and many more ocean creatures. Click here to purchase tickets. (100 Aquarium Way, 90802; 562-590-3100)
Long Beach Firefighter’s Museum: This hidden gem, run by retired Long Beach Fire Department firefighters and other local volunteers, has extremely limited hours: It’s open Wednesdays from 8 am to 12 pm and the second Saturday of every month from 10 am to 3 pm. But if you have a little aspiring firefighter and can make it there, it’s absolutely worth a visit. The museum, located near Long Beach’s Little Cambodia neighborhood, displays many old fire vehicles. The retired firefighters are happy to chat with you and your kids, and they may even take you for a ride on one of the fire engines! The museum is located next door to the Long Beach Fire Station 10. (1445 Peterson Ave., 90813)
Marine Park (Mother’s Beach): Marine Park (a.k.a. Mother’s Beach), located in a beautiful marina setting, has a shallow swimming area with gentle wave action that’s perfect for little ones. There is lifeguard supervision during peak periods. There are also volleyball courts, a playground area, and picnic sites. (Appian Way below 2nd St., 562-570-3100)
The Queen Mary: The famous Queen Mary, once the grandest ocean liner in the world, is now a full-service hotel, historical landmark, and entertainment venue. It is also said to be haunted! Older kids may enjoy the various tours the ship has to offer, including a behind-the-scenes tour and a submarine tour. During the holiday season, the Queen Mary presents CHILL, a frozen winter wonderland featuring magnificent ice sculptures, a six-lane Ice Tubing Slide, an ice skating rink, a Holiday Village, and the world’s largest rocking horse. (1126 Queens Hwy., 90802; 877-342-0738)
Shoreline Village: This shopping and entertainment village on Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor waterfront offers unique and fun shops, family-friendly restaurants, and an arcade and carousel that kids of all ages will enjoy. Shop for souvenirs at the nautical-themed Pirate’s Cove, get a refreshing treat at Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt on the Boardwalk, and play games at the Pelican Pier Pavilion to earn tickets that you can redeem for prizes. Shoreline Village is open 10 am to 9 pm daily, but individual restaurants may have different hours. (401-435 Shoreline Village Dr., 90802; 562-435-2668)