Attraction of the Week: Long Beach’s Shoreline Village & Rainbow Harbor
Shoreline Village is a gorgeous, quaint section of Long Beach, California (the second largest city in the Los Angeles metro area). Beautiful palm trees, meticulous landscaping, and serene views of Rainbow Harbor characterize this Cape Cod style village. Shoreline is a popular tourist destination due to its’ many offerings in the dining, entertainment, shopping, and recreation departments.
Shoreline Village is the ideal daytime or evening destination in Long Beach. There is always something to do no matter the time of day. Whether you are looking for a sunny afternoon stroll or a romantic dinner overlooking the harbor, Shoreline is sure to please.
Shoreline is home to 14 restaurants, including my 2 favorites of the area: Tequila Jacks and Yard House. Both offer scenic waterfront seating, excellent happy hour specials, great food, and a modern lively vibe. Shopping includes a selection of jewelry, clothing, and tourist shops. I picked up the majority of my Long Beach/I love LA apparel here at really great prices. My favorite stop is Pirate’s Cove, a unique gem offering pirate and Long Beach themed souvenirs.
Be sure to walk (or bike) up to the Rainbow Harbor Marina Lighthouse for breathtaking views of the city. From here, you will also experience great views of the Queen Mary and harbor. Taking a night stroll around Shoreline, followed by a trip up the lighthouse for panoramic views of the city, is one of my favorite things to do. The lighthouse is definitely the best place in the city for photography.
Those looking to get out onto the water can look into sailing lessons and harbor cruises. The 1 hour Spirit Cruise is a great deal at only $14 per person. In addition, they also offer sunset dinner cruises, which are perfect for date nights/anniversaries.
If you feel like getting in a bit of healthy exercise in the beautiful Southern California sunshine, get your bike out or rent one from Wheel Fun Rentals (offering cruisers, surreys, tandems, etc.). You can either bike around Shoreline Village or bike the entire Shoreline Pedestrian Path , a scenic ride along the beaches. The 3 mile journey will start at Shoreline Village and travel down to Alamitos Bay.
The path is flat, not overly crowded, and very scenic. Long Beach beaches, although not known for ideal swimming or surfing conditions, are perfect for recreation. The path is ideal for early morning jogs and walks as well.
Great views of the marina along the Shoreline Bike Path
An early morning view of Alamitos Beach from the Bike Path
Shoreline hosts a handful of popular events throughout the year including the famous Long Beach Grand Prix, which is back once again for its’ 40th year. Other fun annual events include: The Long Beach International Marathon, The Long Beach Yacht and Boat Show, and the Long Beach Zombie Walk.
The Long Beach Half Marathon is the standout here, one of the nicest marathons in the country. The Half features a flat course, with scenic water views the majority of the course, cheering fans and spectators motivating you along, and of course sunshine filled California skies! If you’ve never run a marathon before, the Long Beach Half is a great place to start!
The Pike at Rainbow Harbor is another excellent dining, entertainment, and shopping destination. 16 restaurants, including popular chains like PF Chang’s and Chili’s provide familiar choices for tourists. However, these aren’t your boring everyday chains. All provide outdoor patios, complete with lush landscaping and fabulous views of the harbor.
In terms of entertainment, Sgt. Peppers Dueling Piano Cafe is a fun option. A movie theater, several bars, KDB (a mediocre restaurant/bar/arcade like Dave and Busters), and The Laugh Factory (a stand up comedy club) round out the entertainment options.
The highlight here is a ride upon the historic Ferris Wheel. For a small fee, you are treated to amazing views of the harbor, city, Queen Mary, and Shoreline Village.
A few great views from the Ferris Wheel
Other notable area attractions:
Aquarium of the Pacific – Frequently regarded as one of the top in the country. The large aquarium is situated on Rainbow Harbor, just a short walk from Shoreline Village. Highlights include the shark lagoon exhibit and Lorikeet Forest, an outdoor aviary. Check the Aquarium website for details regarding hours and admission prices.
Whale watching – Harbor Breeze cruises is conveniently located right next to the Aquarium. Both summer and winter excursions are offered. Check the Harbor Breeze websites for schedules and discount coupons.
Catalina Express – A day trip to Catalina Island is the perfect way to spice up any summer day. Scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, hiking, biking, and kayaking are just a few of the many activities found on the island. Visit the Catalina Express website to view the schedule for Long beach to Avalon service.
Queen Mary – The legendary ocean liner is now open as a hotel with a variety of rooms and special packages available. The Queen Mary also offers a popular Sunday Champagne Brunch and a tea room. Several tours are offered, including a variety of paranormal tours (Queen Mary has been rated one of the top 10 haunted places by Time Magazine). Check the Queen Mary website for more details, including hotel reservations, special promotions, and annual events.
Tips for visiting Shoreline/Rainbow Harbor
*Get around by hopping on the free Long Beach Passport, which conveniently stops at many of the top attractions including Shoreline Village, the Queen Mary, the Aquarium, the Pike at Rainbow Harbor, various hotels and more!
*Book a stay at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, conveniently located within walking distance of all the attractions. Each hotel room features beautiful views of the water.
*Check individual websites and Groupon for coupons to local attractions.
*Long Beach is a filming hot spot. Hundreds of movies and TV shows have filmed throughout various locations throughout town. A few notable movies and shows include: Ferris Buellers Day Off, American Pie, Coach Carter, Glee, and Dexter.
*From 1902-1979, The Pike Amusement Park operated along the shoreline. It is most famous for the Cyclone Racer, which was one of the fastest coaster at that time.
*Long Beach is the 36th largest city in the US.
*Long Beach ranks amongst the most diverse cities in the US.
Have you ever visited Long Beach? What are some of your favorite attractions in the area?