Long Beach is filled with two things: tourists and locals. From groups of foreigners crowding at the convention center or visiting attractions like the Queen Mary and Aquarium of the Pacific, the downtown area is said to be the home for city outsiders. But outside of popular scenic spots, local residents form the majority of Long Beach, bringing neighborly vibes, immersed cultures, and delicious food options.
Although the ultimate tourist experience is fun (and should definitely be on a bucket list for first-time Long Beach travelers), it is always exciting to experience the city through a Long Beach native’s perspective. If you have only one day to explore the city, here is one of many ways to undergo your 908 travels, the local way.
Located at Anaheim Street between Atlantic and Junipero avenues, you can find the largest population of Cambodians outside of their homeland. The mile-long community is rich with culture, restaurants, religious organizations, and other small businesses all owned by Cambodian people. One popular restaurant is Phnom Penh Noodle Shack, which sits on the corner of Cherry Avenue and 17th Street. Known for its house special noodles, the restaurant strives to share its culture with the Long Beach community through tasty, authentic noodles. And for any locals who have not yet added Cambodian cuisine to their palette, it is a must try.
After satisfying your taste buds, grab a bike from the nearest Long Beach Bike Share station conveniently on Cherry Avenue and 10th Street. From there, bike your way south down Cherry toward Fourth Street until you see the next bike station. Leave your bike at the rack and get your walking shoes on as you enter the heart of Retro Row. The street is filled with nearly 100 independently-owned businesses ranging from vintage, clothing, music and dessert shops. Browse in and out of shops while making your way over to Junipero Avenue. Get a caffeine boost at Portfolio's Coffeehouse, one of the cities third-wave specialty coffee shops. From lattes to regular coffee, the coffeehouse serves many items guaranteed to make you feel energized to continue your journey.
Take a break from walking and biking by using a rideshare app to transport you to Alamitos Bay, referred to as “The Bay” by locals. From getting your tan on by laying on the sand for hours to taking a swim, The Bay is a great place to interact with locals. Many spend their days basking with family and friends and continuously do so over the years, making it the place to be all summer long. It is also a great place to try out paddle boarding or kayaking.
As lunchtime approaches, don’t worry about bringing food because you can always get Thai Curry Pizza By Dean delivered for free. This small restaurant has immersed Thai and Italian cuisine, bringing the Long Beach community a delicacy unlike any other. After snacking on a couple of slices (or the whole pizza) and reaching your sun capacity, walk up Bay Shore Avenue up to Second Street.
From here, you can either choose the Belmont Shore route with a handful of shops to browse or turn in the opposite direction (across the bridge) for the ultimate local experience in Naples Island. At Belmont Shore, you can visit Legends Sports Bar, the first modern sports bar in America, and cool off with a cocktail after working up a sweat strolling down the street. At Naples, you can explore the small businesses and in most cases, these owners live in the city, making it a great place to interact with locals. Stroll down Ravenna Drive or Appian Way to get a beautiful view of the other side of the bay.
Evening time should be approaching, but your day in Long Beach is not complete without experiencing the Interstate Freeway 405. Hop on another rideshare service and head over to Bixby Knolls. The heart of the community is on Atlantic Avenue between San Antonio Drive and Wardlow Road, where the community is filled with shops and other places to look around.
If you go west on San Antonio, you’ll come across a local gem called Long Beach Creamery, where ice cream is made daily from organic ingredients with signature and rotating seasonal flavors. Deciding which flavor to get can get overwhelming, but samples are unlimited. If you are a local and have not had the chance to stop by, there is also a downtown Long Beach location making it no exception to try this homemade dessert.
Take your ice cream to-go and head over to Hilltop Park for a beautiful aerial view of Long Beach. Bring a blanket or sit on a bench to enjoy your ice cream while watching the sunset over Palos Verdes.
End your night with the sun or experience Joe Jost’s, one of the oldest bars in the city, to spend the night befriending locals. After making a few friends, get them to show you more spots in the Long Beach area the next time you choose to visit!