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3 Days in Long Beach for Families

Organisiert von Elisa Parhada Los Angeles-based travel writer and mother of two.

Every summer my kids and I make the trek to Long Beach for a quirky annual tradition: grunion runs. Grunions are herring-like fish that beach themselves during mating season for an epic silvery show. We always pair it with a jaunt around the city.

The busy, refreshing port city is loaded with maritime history, fun shops, diverse eateries, and gorgeous scenery—the coastal Palos Verdes Scenic Drive (with a stop at Wayfarers Chapel) is a personal favorite. And, it may be touristy, but the Long Beach Waterfront is popular for a reason. We love visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific and Queen Mary and strolling along the scenic pathway (also good for biking). Here are my tips for three days of family fun in Long Beach.

While most days are sunny and warm, be prepared for cool temperatures thanks to the city’s proximity to the ocean.

If you only have time for one thing, make it the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Day 1

Shoreline Village is a bit like the village square of the city, and its crowning attraction is the Aquarium of the Pacific. In over 100 exhibits, you can observe penguins, seals, sea otters, and so much more. Touch pools offer kids a tactile way to learn about marine creatures, including sharks, rays, and starfish.

Shoreline Village has a wide range of dining options for lunch, but for more of a foodie experience, head over to Broadway for the beloved Italian restaurant, La Parolaccia Osteria. In the evening, head back to Rainbow Lagoon for a magical swan boat ride.

Day 2

Treat your group to a morning tour on the water for the chance to see a wide range of marine creatures, including gray whales, blue whales, orcas, fin whales, minke whales, and dolphins.

In the afternoon, head to Belmont Shores and Naples, just east of Shoreline Village and downtown. You'll find fun boutiques, al fresco eateries on Second Street, and the chance to take a gondola ride around the canals of Naples. Later, observe the mysteries of the deep on a glass bottom boat ride.

Day 3

The artsy enclave of Avalon on Catalina Island makes for a fun day trip. The 22-mile trek across the water connects you to roaming buffalo, sandy beaches, and fun galleries, shops, and eateries.

More than half of Catalina Island is managed by a nature conservancy, established to protect the island's endemic wildlife and rugged desert interior. Check it out on an eco-adventure tour before you head back to the mainland.

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