Chances are high that if you’re cruising to Mexico’s Pacific coast from Southern California, you’ll be departing from either the Port of Long Beach or the adjoining Port of Los Angeles. Sure, you could arrive early to see the sights of Hollywood (and risk missing embarkation while sitting in L.A. traffic), or you could enjoy these great restaurants, bars, and attractions right near the port.
L.A.’s southern coastal suburb is fast becoming a foodie mecca. Here, 10 spots not to miss.
The Attic on Broadway
Slap-yo-Momma good Southern fare in a homey Craftsman bungalow. Order the Mac n’ Cheetos topped with avocado and andouille, and, for dessert, the calorie-free (kidding!) chantilly creme and spiced rum-laced bananas foster bread pudding. $$; 3441 East Broadway; theatticonbroadway.com.
Saint & Second
Owned by the Hofman family for three generations, this new iteration—in a brick-walled, loft-like space on the corner of yes, St. Joseph and 2nd Street, is the spot for locavore fare at its best: bison short ribs with crispy shallots and roasted squash in sage butter. $$$; 4828 E. 2nd St.; saintandsecond.com.
Hip Long Beach creatives have long flocked to Retro Row for stylish throwback duds, but now they’re also coming for brunch here, thanks to dishes like oak smoked rainbow trout with soft boiled egg and grilled bread and decidedly grown up “ReCrafted S’mores”: flourless chocolate cake, butterscotch ice cream, torched meringue and graham crumbles. Sigh. $$; 2708 E. 4th St.; restaurationlb.com.
Lola’s Mexican Food
Family recipes from Guadalajara get a star turn here—from bacon-wrapped jalapenos to the serrano chile-marinated skirt steak, all so expertly prepared you’d think there was an abuela heading up the kitchen. $; 2030 E. 4th St.; lolasmexicancuisine.com.
Yes, the famed Manhattan gyro truck is coming west. Their new location, opened in January 2016: A real brick and mortar storefront, where they’ll be dousing thick chicken or lamb gyros and falafel in their creamy hot and/or white sauce. “Street meat” no more. $; 1804 Ximeno Ave.; thehalalguys.com.
Opened in July 2014 in a standard strip mall: a restaurant that’s far from ordinary, thanks to its mother-daughter team of owners devoted to Thai regional cuisine and Bangkok street food. Your order: Pu Jah, or crab cakes with minced pork and sweet chili relish, and artichoke curry in coconut milk. $; 3618 E. Broadway; manaowthai.com.
Long Beach Creamery
31 flavors, this is not. All the ice creams offered here are truly exceptional, including crowd-pleasers (whiskey vanilla or burnt caramel) and those that call to a more experimental palette (we loved the goat cheese cherry). $; 4141 Long Beach Blvd.; longbeachcreamery.com.
The Exhibition Room
When a Southern California bar has a “business casual” dress code, you know they take their cocktails seriously. When it’s in a speakeasy you enter through a 1940s phone booth at the back of another lounge? Tell your family not to wait up. $; 1117 E Wardlow Rd.; theexhibitionroom.com
The Stache Bar
Ginger beers are made fresh in-house daily at this dimly lit neighborhood bar, so ordering a Moscow Mule is practically required. Their mustache parties are legendary (don’t have a ‘stache? They’ll give you a stick-on one). $; 941 E 4th St.; thestachebar.com
HBO’s “True Blood” was reportedly filmed here, so you know it’s got a cinematic interior on-tap—as well as Delirium Tremens and local Anchor Meyer’s Lemon Lager. Go on Monday’s for trivia and Wednesday’s for no-holds-barred Karaoke. $; 2913 E Anaheim St.; alexsbar.com
Credit cards out! These five Long Beach boutiques earned their spot on our radar.
Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles
Technically, it’s a ten minute drive from Long Beach—but this 1940s warehouse-turned-crafts market is well worth the mileage. You’ll find cityscapes made from old computer circuitboards, locavore chutneys, and, soon to come in 2016, a 15,000-barrel brewery. 112 E. 22nd., San Pedro; craftedportla.com
Made in Long Beach
In an airy, loft-like space, this fiercely local shop (everything’s crafted within Long Beach proper) stocks everything from burnished leather iPad cases to bike saddlebags made from Swiss army rations carriers. 240 Pine Ave.; madelb.com
This East Village clothing and accessory shop proffers “California cool” you can wear—including high-gloss bronze vinyl flats, weathered denim jackets, and necklaces carved from horn. 132 Linden Ave.; shopelev8.com
Carefully edited women’s clothing and jewelry for minimalists that maximize their style (dresses by LA’s Achro and pearl and leather rings), plus some of the cutest baby clothes we’ve ever seen—you’ll want to snap up the tiny hand-made moccasins in every color. 440 E. 1st St; anneise.com
Long Beach Antique Market
Diane Keaton, Cindy Crawford, and Brooke Shields have been spotted shopping at this rain-or-shine outdoor flea market—so you know it’s good. With over 800 sellers, you’re bound to find something, but the chance increases exponentially if you show up when they open at 5:30 a.m. 4901 E Conant St.; longbeachantiquemarket.com
Midcentury Modern purists flock to this interior design outpost, where brand new pieces collide with vintage finds, including Curtis Jere cut brass pendants and Milo Baughman chrome stools. 2116 E. 4th St.; rebornevets.com
Sleeping in is just the beginning at these Long Beach hot spots.
The Queen Mary
Cunard’s legendary vessel launched in Southampton, England in 1936, and would go on to ferry celebs (Clark Gable, Winston Churchill) and WWII troops. She’s been docked here since 1967—and there’s nothing more fun than checking into her polished Art Deco staterooms, taking a proper pinkies-out afternoon tea (with local fig jam) in the tea room, and hitting the spa on the main deck for a very necessary hot stone massage. From $99; 1126 Queens Highway; queenmary.com
The Varden Hotel
Today, it’s a white-on-white, modern take on a boutique hotel, with 35 sleek rooms stocked with 300-thread-count linens and mosaic-walled baths. But we love that its namesake—a circus performer named Dolly Varden—lived in the penthouse upstairs in the 1950s, after her boy toy bought it for her. From $149; 335 Pacific Ave.; thevardenhotel.com
Hotel Maya Long Beach
Because it sits on 11 lush waterfront acres, you know this isn’t your standard business Doubletree—but the fire pits out front and hookah service in the bar prove it. Don’t miss the $2 tacos at Happy Hour from 3-5 on weekdays. From $299; 700 Queensway Dr.; hotelmayalongbeach.com
The Pike Long Beach
A rooftop pool, Italian cotton bedding, and waterfall shower-heads make this Hyatt one of the most zen and spa-like hotels in Long Beach. If you need us, we’ll be at the hotel’s library-like lounge; the Side Car’s are calling our name. From $249; 285 Bay St.; thepikelongbeach.centric.hyatt.com
Hilton Long Beach
Gargantuan rooms overlooking the water, all built for business, with ergonomic desk chairs and starbucks coffee at-the-ready (plus: lightning fast wifi, for a fee). From $169; 701 W Ocean Blvd.; hiltonlb.com.
Yes, there’s a long beach. But there’s much more to see and do in this SoCal city.
Aquarium of the Pacific
Guest lectures by lauded naturalists and late-night live music parties make this aquarium a playground for adults, too (but don’t miss seeing the sea otters, penguins, and—yep—touchable sharks. They’d feel bad if you did). 100 Aquarium Way; aquariumofpacific.org
Museum of Latin American Art
Among the 350 internationally renowned latino artists whose work is on view here at any given time? A stainless steel piece by Mexican artist Leonardo Norman and bronze beauties by Guatemalan Max Leiva, all in the verdant sculpture garden. 628 Alamitos Ave.; molaa.org
El Dorado Nature Center
Birders (ahem) flock to this 105 acre preserve, where dirt trails wind around two lakes and edge the San Gabriel River. To look for: red-eyed cinnamon teal ducks, black-crowned night herons, and fluffy snowy egrets. 7550 E. Spring St.; longbeach.gov
When you’re in Long Beach, it’s well worth making time for a quick day tour at 22-mile long Catalina Island, where buffalo roam (after being left there after a 1925 movie shoot, no less). Catalina Express ferries will take you there in under an hour, with multiple daily departures—and you just might spot dolphins and sea lions along the way. 400 Oceangate; catalinaexpress.com
Rancho Los Cerritos
Tour an 1844 adobe homestead, picnic in gardens where tuberose, water lilies, and California fuchsia bloom, and imagine what life was like for California’s earliest Spanish settlers (we can see your #throwback post now…). 4600 Virginia Rd.; rancholoscerritos.org