Long Beach is a nice seaside city about an hour (depending on traffic) from downtown Los Angeles. The city hosts the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach each April, but it is an ideal vacation destination the other 11 months of the year as well. Here’s an itinerary for a fun weekend getaway in Long Beach:
Start the day at the Aquarium of the Pacific, which has a lot more than fish. Aside from he exhibits and tours, certified divers can do a truly immersive experience, called Dive Immersive. This incredible adventure is a scuba dive into the 350,000 gallon tropical fish habitat and a swim with the more than 1,000 varieties of marine life inside. Two and a half hour dives are $299 per person, and space is limited and must be reserved well in advance.
In the afternoon, take the city’s free Passport bus service to the Long Beach Museum of Art (2300 East Ocean Blvd.) After spending time with the art, enjoy lunch at Claire’s At The Museum Restaurant, considered one of the best in the city. The open patio features views of the Queen Mary and harbor.
At night I would retire to a harbor-view room at the newly renovated Renaissance Long Beach Hotel (111 East Ocean Blvd.). The rooms are bright and spacious and the personal Renaissance service ensures a pleasant stay. For dinner, I would enjoy some wine and items from the tasting menu at SIP Lounge, the bar and restaurant in the hotel’s beautiful lobby space. Online, advance rates start under $120 per night.
For Sunday Brunch, head across the harbor to the legendary Queen Mary, where Sunday Champagne Brunch is offered in the ship’s Grand Salon at $49.95 per person. Champagne flows freely as does live music. Sunday afternoon would probably include a bike ride around the city, easily arranged by the Renaissance’s “Ambassador” concierge. Sunday dinner should be spent with a lot of beer at Congregation Ale House (201 East Broadway), a local brewpub serving great food and house-brewed craft beers.
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