fun to do kids long beach california   Travel for Kids
  | California | south coast
     
   

Long Beach

Long Beach sits less than half an hour south of downtown Los Angeles at the southern tip of L.A. County. Famous as home to the Queen Mary and a spectacular Aquarium, this harbor town is a great place for all kinds of outdoor adventures with kids.
Aquarium
  Aquarium of the Pacific – Plan plenty of time for any visit here. Over 5,500 species, from moon jellies to sharks, in 17 exhibits from the Bering Sea to Southern California to tropical barrier reef environments. The huge, three-story-high tanks are the most popular exhibits, but don't miss the Soft Coral Lagoon's Plexiglass underpass: peer up at tropical fish weaving through the coral and watch divers feeding the fish. Feet getting tired? Plop down in the theater for a documentary on sea life. Click here for more information about children's programs at the aquarium.
    If you're visiting in the summer, get in early so you won't have to hold kids up to see exhibits over the crowds.
    Tip: The Aquarium is free with the Go Los Angeles Card.
    Rainbow Harbor – Climb on board the tall ship Californian, a full scale re-creation of the 1848 Revenue Marine Cutter, C.W. Lawrence, one of fastest and grandest cutters on the California coast. Kids jump right into the adventure of clambering around the riggings and exploring below decks. If you really love tall ships, there are day cruises and longer available, but make reservations well in advance: 1.800.432.2201.
    Shoreline Village Hub of the most famous local attractions (Aquarium and Queen Mary), there are lots of little shops, snack places and a nice outdoor area for strolling here.
      Shoreline Pedestrian/Bike PathRent bikes or skates at Alfredo's Beach Rentals or First Place, and cruise the bike path from Shoreline Village to Alamitos Bay. The path is 17-feet-wide with two six-foot lanes for bikes and a five-foot lane for pedestrians, perfect for a leisurely ride.
      Aquabus ferry For a small fee, the most fun way to get around is the Aquabus ferry to the Aquarium or the Queen Mary; you'll also avoid hunting for parking spots over and over.
Queen Mary
  Queen Mary Seaport – One of the main attractions in Long Beach is this huge ocean liner with its opulent public rooms and staterooms. Built back when elegance outweighed safety in design, this ship is one of the glories of the 1930s deco design period with gorgeous woods used everywhere (even the decks are made of teakwood). Rumor (and guides) has it that the ship is haunted – maybe you'll spot the wispy lady at the pool!
    Tip: The Queen Mary is free is free with Go Los Angeles Card.
    Also, check out the Soviet submarine Scorpion, for more legends and stories. Nearby are "Olde English" styled shops and restaurants to round out the experience.
    Harbor cruises and boating – The choices seem endless in this port town: everything from quickie harbor cruises, to seasonal whale watching.
      Whale watching – From December to early April, take a cruise to spot gray whales on their yearly migration. You may see the whales "spyhopping," poking their heads above the water a bit, or "breaching," a spectacular display as the whales propel themselves out of the water and fall back with a big splash. Bring your binoculars.
      One of the most fun options is at Naples Island, where Southern California gondoliers (looking more like local surfers than Napolitani) pole people in Italian gondolas through the canals. Ask and you'll even get the striped-shirted guys to warble a song just like in old Italy.
      If you want to power your own boat, rent an electric powered boat from Bay Boat Rentals, and explore the canals of Naples Bay and Alamitos Bay.
    Beaches and water sports – Splash around! The city boasts over 5 miles of sandy beaches, and every imaginable water sport.
      Marina Park – If you have toddlers, head for "Mother's Beach" at Marina Park (Appian Way). Lifeguards on duty in summer, sandy beach and gentle waves, barbeques, grassy areas, and a whale to climb on that spouts water.
      Sea kayaking is very popular in southern California and lessons, just a few feet from the sand, can be fun if you don't have a lot of experience. Smaller kids can go tandem with a parent in a kayak.
      At the Colorado Lagoon, kids over 7 can learn to build and sail model sailboats and race them in weekly regattas at the Model Boat Shop.
Go fly a kite – Palm trees swaying outside your hotel window? Take advantage of it! Agreat way to enjoy the beach on a windy day is to buy a kite. Buy a cheap one and toss it when you're done, or start your own exotic kite collection from different places you visit.
El Dorado Regional Park – The great 800 acre El Dorado Regional Park seems to have something for everybody. Rent a rowboat or pedal boat, take the kids for a pony or hayride, check out the petting zoo, or put 'em on board the children's train. You can also follow well laid-out hiking trails, bike on the bike path,or just have a picnic while the kids run wild in the playgrounds.
      Nearby, the El Dorado Nature Center has streams and lakes and hiking trails making it a great place to stretch your legs. The Center is set in a meadow surrounded by trees and is home to everything from turtles to weasels to rabbits. It's free to walk or bicycle in, but there is a small parking fee. At the Center Museum, kids will love the hands-on exhibits and workshops.

Rancho Los Alamitos – The 7 ½ acre ranch has an adobe house built in 1800, barns with draft horses, goats, sheep, and other farm animals set in four acres of gardens, and a working blacksmith shop. Open Wednesday through Sunday with tours every half hour, this is a great way to spend a couple hours watching farming demonstrations (you'll get to take part in some yourselves). Check the calendar for special events held all year long.

Rancho Los Cerritos – Originally a Spanish land grant of 27,000 acres, it's now about four acres acres with an 1844 adobe house and gardens. The most fun thing to do has to be "Tea with Margaret Bixby." You'll enjoy a Victorian tea and find out about 19th century ranch life from "Margaret Bixby" in a living history presentation. There's no fee to visit the Rancho and there are picnic areas.
kids books
     
 
California Ranchos
Natalie M. Rosinky

Before you visit Rancho Los Cerritos and Rancho Los Alamitos, read about rancho life - adobe houses and workshops, ranching cattle, celebrations and rodeos. (Picture book)

 

 
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