The Best 3 Days in Long Beach Itinerary

The Best 3 Days in Long Beach Itinerary

If you’re looking for a Southern California beachside city that’s (usually) less filled with tourists, Long Beach is for you. While there’s a possibility that I’m a bit biased considering it’s where I’ve called home for the last five years or so, Long Beach is definitely a city that deserves a spot on more people’s radars. So whether you’re looking for a day or weekend trip while visiting Los Angeles, or you find yourself in Long Beach for one reason or another, read on how to have the best three days in Long Beach. 

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I do have to get one thing out of the way first: the beach does not have waves here. I know it’s weird, but I just want you to have appropriate expectations when it comes to a California beach vacation. With that said, Long Beach is artsy, full of amazing restaurants, has lots of great thrift shopping, is super multi-cultural, always has lots of fun events going on, and is still on the beach. 

Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up — onto the three days in Long Beach itinerary!

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Day 1: Downtown, Cambodia Town, Shoreline Village, Alamitos Beach

Let’s kick off your Long Beach trip in Downtown.

Starting off with breakfast, The Breakfast Bar is a classic Long Beach breakfast spot. I personally always go for the Eggs Noni (kind of like a vegetarian Eggs Benedict), but you really can’t go wrong here. (70 Atlantic Ave.) 

This whole area is super walkable, so spend the morning exploring Downtown and the East Village area, Long Beach’s art district. This is one of my favorite neighborhoods — it has lots of gorgeous (and historic) Art Deco architecture, and there are a bunch of shops and restaurants to check out around here.

For lunch, let’s head to Cambodia Town, which is less than two miles away (just under 10 minutes driving). Long Beach is actually home to the largest Cambodian population outside of Cambodia, meaning that we’re lucky enough to have a number of delicious Cambodian restaurants. Monorom Cambodian Restaurant is so good and affordably priced. (2150 E. Anaheim St.)

After lunch, head to Shoreline Village. It’s a kitschy but cute little area with lots of shops and restaurants. Check it out and then head toward the marina, where there’s a path that will take you to the beach. You’ll always see this area filled with everyone from families pedaling on surreys (those four-wheeled carriage things), to joggers, roller skaters, and more. The whole path goes for four-and-a-half miles or so, but I’d recommend just walking through the marina til you get to the Alamitos Beach area.

Shoreline Village

For dinner, I’d recommend walking back toward the Downtown area. Either get dinner at Ellie’s, a delicious and upscale Italian restaurant a few blocks away from the shore, or pick from one of the many other great restaurants this area of Long Beach has to offer. (204 Orange Ave.)

Back in Downtown, Ammatoli is a really popular and beautiful restaurant serving Levantine cuisine. It’s definitely not the best place for a budget meal, but it’s considered one of the best spots in the city, and I’ve always been impressed with anything I’ve ordered. (285 E. Third St.) 

Cafe Sevilla, a Spanish tapas place that has live music Wednesdays through Fridays is also one of my favorite places. Their tapas are all reasonably priced, and they have a great happy hour menu as well. They’re closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. (140 Pine Ave.) 

This is also a great area for nightlife. If you’re looking for a casual sports bar atmosphere, Shannon’s on Pine is a popular spot. (209 Pine Ave.) If you’re into creative cocktails, The Ordinarie always has a unique and delicious cocktail menu. (210 The Promenade N.)

Downtown Long Beach

Day 2: Bluff Park, Rancho Los Alamitos and/or Rancho Los Cerritos, Belmont Shore

Let’s start the morning off at one of my favorite breakfast places, Starling Diner. Everything I’ve had here is amazing, from the blue crab and scrambled eggs, to the San Francisco stuffed French toast, to the smoked salmon and capers crostini. (4114 E. Third St.) 

Then, either walk or drive to Bluff Park, which is just about a mile away. This park is a great spot for relaxing for a bit, catching one of the free yoga classes that happen every day here, or visiting the Long Beach Museum of Art. The museum is open Thursdays through Sundays and costs $12, or $10 with a student ID. (2300 East Ocean Blvd.)

Next on the three days in Long Beach itinerary are some hidden gems in Long Beach. Rancho Los Alamitos and Rancho Los Cerritos are both relatively small, but are both historic landmarks. Either pick one or check out both, and plan to spend an hour or so. Both locations are open Wednesdays through Sundays, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Both admission and parking are totally free.

Next, head to Second Street, the main street in the Belmont Shore neighborhood. This is one of the more upscale areas in Long Beach, and is a main hub for both shopping and dining. If you prefer planning ahead, check out a full list of stores here. 

At this point, you’ll probably be ready for lunch. There are lots of options to choose from in this area. If you’re looking for something quick, affordable, and most importantly, delicious, The Win-Dow on Second Street is a great option. It’s a pretty small menu, but the burgers are really good (especially considering it’s only $4.35) and there are even a couple healthier options too. (4600 2nd St.)

If you’re up for a bit of a splurge (this is vacation, after all) Saint & Second is one of my favorite places for a fancier meal. (4828 2nd St.) My favorite sushi place is also in this area, @Sushi. (5372 E 2nd St.) 

After lunch and an hour or so of retail therapy, walk through the neighborhood a few blocks down to the beach. Rosie’s Dog Beach, one of my favorite places in Long Beach, is around here. It’s the best place for an afternoon pick-me-up. Or, walk further down Second Street until you get to Naples, the fanciest neighborhood in Long Beach. Built on three islands which are connected by canals, this is a really beautiful area to walk around for a bit. 

To wind up the day, get dinner at one of the spots on Second Street. Or, head farther down Second Street til you get to Ballast Point. (It’s about 10 minutes driving, too far to walk). I always bring out-of-town guests here mainly because the view is just that great, making it the perfect place to spend the evening, grab dinner, and catch the sunset. This is a brewery, so drink options are limited to beers (and a couple seltzer options). The food is also solid. (110 N Marina Drive)

If you’re looking for nightlife, head back to Second Street. There are lots of bars around here, ranging from more upscale places to more divey spots. This area can get pretty crowded and loud on weekend nights, as it’s a popular area for college students, so just keep that in mind.

Day 3: Bixby Knolls, El Dorado Nature Center, Retro Row, MOLAA

Head to Bixby Knolls, another Long Beach neighborhood to get breakfast at MeeMa’s. Not only is the restaurant cute and meant to reference the feeling of being at your grandma’s house, but the food is so good. MeeMa’s is closed on Mondays. (4276 Atlantic Ave.)

Next, drive about 20 minutes away for some much-needed nature at one of the best spots in the city. El Dorado Nature Center is a large park with a number of trails you can take. They’re all super easy and on flat ground, and perfect for spending a relaxing hour or two. It’s free, but it does cost $7 to park.

Next, head to yet another one of my favorite pockets in Long Beach, Fourth Street, a.k.a. “Retro Row,” named for its number of vintage stores. Some of my favorite stores in the area are Native Sol for cute jewelry and other lifestyle items, Meow and Far Outfit for vintage clothing, and for the readers out there, Bel Canto Books. (There’s also Kitchen Lingo for cookbook aficionados, and Page Against the Machine for an interesting social justice-oriented selection). Check out the full list here.

For lunch, stop at Lola’s for Mexican food (2030 E. Fourth St.), or Little Coyote for pizza. (2118 E. Fourth St.) 

For the afternoon, head over to the Museum of Latin American Art, or the MOLAA. For some odd reason, this is the only museum in the country dedicated to modern and contemporary Latino and Latin American art, and is more than worth a stop. It’s a relatively small museum, so plan to spend just an hour or two here. It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and free on Sundays. Otherwise, it’s $15, or $10 with a student ID.

For dinner, head to the nearby Seabirds Kitchen. It’s a super well-known vegan restaurant, and for good reason, as everything you get here is amazing. I used to live right around the corner, so at this point I’ve tried most of the menu, and you really can’t go wrong, but its burgers (made from beets) are especially popular. (975 E. Fourth St.) Tarantella on 4th is also one of my favorite more upscale Italian spots. (2120 E. Fourth St.)

Brunch from Seabirds (only served on weekends)

For a nightcap, head to Baby Gee’s, a new-ish cocktail bar with a cozy atmosphere and amazing drinks. (1227 E. Fourth St.)

More things to do in Long Beach

If you have the time and budget during your three days in Long Beach, other popular Long Beach activities include visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific, the largest aquarium in Southern California, and the iconic Queen Mary, a historic ship. 

Tickets for the aquarium are $44.95, and prices vary for the Queen Mary depending on what tour or tours you’re interested in. The history of the ship includes hosting stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era, to serving as a military ship during World War 2. Check out options here. There’s even a ghost tour! I went on all three tours when I visited and found them all really interesting. There are also a number of dining options onboard, but you do need to purchase a tour ticket, even if you’re just interested in eating or drinking.

I’ve never done this, but you can also rent a swan boat in the Rainbow Lagoon area for $11. Check it out here.

This post finally gave me the perfect excuse to use this photo, taken at the Aquarium of the Pacific

Where to stay in Long Beach

There are a number of hotels to choose from in Downtown Long Beach, especially if you’re not on a strict budget.

The Courtyard by Marriott Long Beach Downtown is less than a mile from the main street in Downtown, if you’re looking for a place to stay near the beach, lots of restaurants, and other tourist destinations like the aquarium or Queen Mary. Find out more here.

A more affordable option is the Beach Inn Motel. As the name suggests, you’ll be in close proximity to the beach, as well as Downtown. Get more information here.

If you’re going to be visiting more destinations in Los Angeles, check out this budget hotel and L.A. neighborhood guide. It outlines six popular neighborhoods to stay in while you’re visiting Los Angeles.

Other important things to know about Long Beach

I know I mentioned already that the beach doesn’t have waves. But I also should let you know, it’s not typically recommended that you go in the water. On warm days I always see people swimming, so I’ll leave this up to you to decide for yourself, but the water here isn’t the cleanest thanks to the nearby oil rigs. And if it’s recently rained, definitely don’t go in. 

As for safety, Long Beach tends to get some bad press when it comes to crime. There is an element of truth — especially as a woman, I would not recommend walking around alone at night in most parts of Long Beach. But during the day, just keep an eye on your belongings and stay aware of your surroundings, and you should be totally fine. Long Beach is a large city where things like homelessness are a big problem, but Long Beach is also so much more than that. Hopefully by following this three-day Long Beach itinerary, you’ll get to see part of what makes this city so special.

As for when the best time to visit is, Long Beach is great all year ’round! While the weather is fairly temperate, still bring layers and expect to be wearing a jacket if you visit in the winter. Also keep in mind that Long Beach hosts lots of large events, the biggest of which is the Grand Prix, usually in late April. So unless you’re planning on attending, I’d try to avoid visiting during those times, to ensure that you have the best experience.

What other questions do you have about visiting Long Beach? And if you’re looking for another day or weekend itinerary in an iconic California city, check out these guides to:

Xoxo, Tess

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18 Comments

  1. May 23, 2024 / 3:59 pm

    My son and his girlfriend live in Long Beach! I love visiting, and I will definitely need to check out these recommendations! I loved my stay on the Queen Mary!

    • Tess
      Author
      May 24, 2024 / 11:38 pm

      Ah what a small world! Haha I’ve always wondered what it would be like to stay at the Queen Mary hotel, glad you enjoyed your time!

  2. May 23, 2024 / 4:51 pm

    Retro Row sounds fun. And all of the food looks delicious. How amazing to also have Cambodia town, Cambodian food is lovely x

    • Tess
      Author
      May 24, 2024 / 11:37 pm

      Thanks for reading, Chloe! 🙂

  3. Sara Meyer
    May 24, 2024 / 3:53 am

    I love California. This is amazing guide I’ll book mark.

    • Tess
      Author
      May 24, 2024 / 11:36 pm

      Thanks so much, Sara!

  4. Meghan
    May 25, 2024 / 5:18 pm

    Your photo from the aquarium is so perfect! What a fun shot. I’ve spent a lot of time in Southern California, but not Long Beach. Looks like there is a ton of fun stuff to do there.

    • Tess
      Author
      May 27, 2024 / 6:51 am

      haha thanks so much, Meghan! it always makes me laugh. hope you get to visit soon!

  5. May 25, 2024 / 5:43 pm

    Oooh so much tasty food plus amazing beaches!? Long beach looks fab!

    p.s. totally unlrelated, but this made me wonder how many places are called “long beach!?” We have one here in BC, I know there is one in the UK… there must be a bunch of others!

    • Tess
      Author
      May 27, 2024 / 6:54 am

      hahaha yeah it’s definitely not the most creative name for a city 😂

  6. Sonia
    May 25, 2024 / 8:04 pm

    Saving this for our next trip to the area. The Seabirds brunch looks excellent!

    • Tess
      Author
      May 27, 2024 / 6:54 am

      Thanks for reading, Sonia! Seabirds is the best 🙂

  7. May 25, 2024 / 8:41 pm

    We enjoyed a few days in Long Beach just before Christmas one year. It was a great holiday spot. But I can see from your post that we need to visit again. We did not get to enjoy the outdoors so the beach and a visit to Bluff Park will certainly be on our plan. The El Dorado Nature Center would keep us active for a full day. Lots of reasons to head back.

    • Tess
      Author
      May 27, 2024 / 6:56 am

      Ah Long Beach is so fun that time of year! but yes, definitely will have to make it back during warmer weather! thanks for reading, Linda 🙂

  8. Marilyn
    May 26, 2024 / 2:47 am

    California is one of my favourite places. I’ll be sure to reference this guide the next time I go!

    • Tess
      Author
      May 27, 2024 / 6:56 am

      Thanks for reading, Marilyn! 🙂

  9. Rhonda
    May 26, 2024 / 9:48 am

    I’ve only been to Long Beach for a day or so. I didn’t realize there were so many things to do other than my typical places. This will be useful for the next time I visit.

    • Tess
      Author
      May 27, 2024 / 6:56 am

      Thanks for reading, Rhonda! hope you get to visit again soon 🙂

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