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Long Beach - California

Attractions South of L.A.

Now a mainly industrial and port city, Long Beach was, in its prime -- at the turn of the 20th century -- the "Atlantic City of the Pacific Coast." There was a gigantic amusement park, film stars' vacation homes and scenic dining spots.

Shoreline Drive, a road along 5.5 miles of Long Beach shoreline, still offers some of the faded ambience of that earlier period, but the main attraction is the Queen Mary, the world's largest ocean liner, which sits at a pier in the harbor. Whale tours are popular, in-season. Some of the old Long Beach is evident on Ocean Boulevard and Pine Avenue, where the original art deco and Mediterranean revival buildings may be seen.

Things to See & Do

Shoreline Drive will take you to just about everything of interest. These include Bixby Park and the Long Beach Museum of Art, housed in an historic old mansion built in 1912 as the summer home of New York philanthropist Elizabeth Milbank Anderson. Known for its impressive video art program, the museum also houses exhibits of nationally-known and local artists.

Just east of the museum is Bluff Park, a neighborhood settled in the early 1900s by such Hollywood luminaries as W.C. Fields, Fatty Arbuckle and Pearl White. This fascinating mix of all types of architecture stretches as far north as Fourth Street. The Oil Islands -- seen from the bluffs -- are disguised oil wells. If you continue driving north along Ocean Boulevard and then follow the Livingston signs, you'll reach Belmont Shore, a collection of boutiques and trendy restaurants.

Naples Island, circled by the Rivo Alto Canal, features Venician-style gondolas which are available for a tour, offering views of the large homes from water-side. Another waterfront shopping area, Seaport Village, is at the north end of the drive.

A Special Place to Stay

Queen Mary
1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach
(877-342-0738-information or 877-342-0742-reservations)
For a unique, nostalgic stay in Long Beach, the Queen Mary can't be beat. Staying overnight on the great ship, moored in Long Beach Harbor, is a one-of-a-kind experience. The art decor trimmings, the restored staterooms and suites, and the feeling of being on a real ocean liner of an earlier age, provide a delightful visit. Overnight rates are suprisingly low, starting at about $90 for a small stateroom. Deluxe staterooms start at about $220. Getaway packages include a first-class stateroom, bon voyage cocktails in the Observation Bar, continental breakfast, and a tour of the ship).

The Queen Mary is reached via Shoreline Drive and the Queensway Bridge. Tours are given daily, and you can stay overnight in one of the great old ship's staterooms or suites. You can also arrange a ship-board marriage.

For other hotels in Long Beach, go to our HotelGuide.

Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

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