Long Beach, California, makes a good summer destination, especially if you like to augment beach time with other adventures.
Highlights include touring the famous ocean liner Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific, taking a harbor cruise and walking along the boardwalk at Shoreline Village.
In her day, the Queen Mary was considered the finest passenger ship ever built. Her maiden voyage in 1936 was followed by hundreds of trips across the Atlantic Ocean. The ship’s passengers were treated to the finest accommodations and dining.
When World War II broke out, the Queen Mary was put into military service and painted a drab gray, traveling 600,000 miles and transporting more than 700,000 troops. After the war, the former “Gray Ghost” regained her bright colors and her original role as a passenger liner.
She made her final voyage in 1967 and soon after was permanently docked in Long Beach.
People from all around the world come to see the ship. A self-guided tour is fun; you can walk from bow to stern, and on seven decks, checking out the exhibits.
For more excitement, sign up for the Ghosts and Legends Tour. The tour takes you to places where paranormal events have been reported aboard the Queen Mary. One is the indoor art deco swimming pool, where the mood is set with lighting special effects, artificial fog and the sounds of water splashing and a child screaming, realistic enough to give you chills.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is home to more than 12,000 animals, focusing on Southern California and Baja, the Northern Pacific and the tropical Pacific.
Permanent staff and volunteers help keep this aquarium thriving, and 200 of the volunteers work underwater as divers to help the animals. One place to maybe catch a glimpse of them is the three-story blue cavern exhibit. It’s patterned after a kelp forest off nearby Santa Catalina Island.
Look for leopard sharks, shovelnose guitarfish and moray eels. Be sure to take your children to the Ray Touch Pool, a safe hands-on experience.
Shoreline Village, located on Rainbow Harbor, will remind you of a New England seaside town. It has restaurants, boutiques and other family-friendly stores. Kids will love to ride the carousel and play in the arcade.
You certainly won’t go hungry as there are a variety of business and restaurants, which serve everything from ice cream cones to some of the finest seafood in Southern California. Be sure to either make a reservation, or arrive early in the evening, to get an outdoor front-row seat and take in a California sunset.