Long Beach, California is a coastal city located about 20 miles south of Los Angeles. This city is known for its waterfront attractions and is also home to the Carnival Corp. cruise terminal. If you are departing on the new Carnival Panorama or another ship sailing from this port, check out our list of the Top Things to Do in Long Beach, CA before or after your cruise vacation.
Top Things to Do in Long Beach, CA on a Cruise
Walk the Long Beach Waterfront
Rainbow Harbor is located between Shoreline Village and the Aquarium of the Pacific in the heart of downtown Long Beach. The waterfront boardwalk that connects these areas is the perfect place to take a stroll. At the marina itself, you can set off on a harbor cruise or a whale watching tour.
Shoreline Village offers an array of shops and restaurants, including the popular Parkers’ Lighthouse restaurant. Nearby, you will also want to check out the Shoreline Aquatic Park’s lighthouse and the fantastic views from atop the hill.
Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific
The Aquarium of the Pacific, conveniently located near Rainbow Harbor, features over 100 animal exhibits. These exhibits encompass 19 different habitats including a shark lagoon, the Harbor Terrace with a moon jelly touch lab, a lorikeet forest, and more. There are also animal encounters, harbor tours, and 4D film experiences for additional educational opportunities.
General admission and combo tickets for other popular attractions in the area, as well as a behind the scenes add-on, can be purchased online or in person at the aquarium.
Related Post: Carnival Panorama Cruise Review
Tour the Queen Mary
No visit to Long Beach, CA would be complete without touring the Queen Mary. This luxury liner that is a throwback to cruising of yesteryear is now permanently docked in Long Beach. The vessel serves as a hotel today and also offers tours, exhibits, and dining. Guests can explore the ship on their own or book one of the guided tours to gain a greater appreciation of the Queen Mary, like the Glory Days historical tour, the Steam and Steel Tour, or the Haunted Encounters tour. If you are in the area in the evening, you can even partake in a paranormal investigation onboard this “haunted” ship.
Tip: Cruise ship passengers get free general admission by showing their ship card (does not include tours- though they can be purchased separately). Disembarking cruise passengers can also store their luggage here for the day while touring the Queen Mary.
Explore a Museum
The Long Beach Museum of Art is a popular attraction located in Bluff Park featuring over 3,000 works of art. With a focus on American decorative arts, early 20th century European art, and California modernism, there are multi-media pieces spanning over 300 years. The museum also offers a variety of free educational programs and an outdoor cafe with beautiful ocean views. If you are looking for other museums to explore, there is also the Museum of Latin American Art and the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum.
Set Sail on a Harbor Cruise
Harbor Breeze Cruises is one of the more popular companies that offers cruise tours from Long Beach. The 45 minute harbor tour sets sail along Long Beach’s shoreline during which guests will learn a bit of history about the harbor while enjoying the sights. The company also offers a whale watching tour that ventures off in search of migrating whales and other marine life. These cruises have an onboard biologist from the aquarium for some informative commentary about these mammals and their environment along the way.
Sample the Cuisine on a Food Tour
The Downtown Long Beach Food Walking Tour is a great way to sample the area’s cuisine before or after your cruise vacation. This 3-hour tour includes a 7 course progressive tasting menu at a variety of popular foodie spots along a 1 mile walk. Some of the favorites include fried Greek cheese, cold-pressed juice, key lime pie, and more. Over the course of the tour, the guide will also provide some commentary on the history, culture, and architecture of Downtown Long Beach. The only requirement is that you are ready to eat!
Stroll the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is a 1.3 acre tranquil green space located on the California State University Long Beach campus. This beautifully manicured Japanese garden was dedicated in 1981 in memory of Earl Burns Miller as a place for ongoing international education, nature, and wellness. It is home to meandering pathways, a zen garden, a koi pond, a tea house, and more. The Garden is open to the public most days for a $5 admission fee.
The El Dorado Nature Center is a 105 acre sanctuary located outside the hustle and bustle of the city. This tranquil nature center offers a series of walking and hiking trails throughout the forest with abounding flora and fauna, two lakes, and a stream. The visitor center houses educational displays and a gallery featuring local artists. The larger regional park is also home to sports amenities like an archery range and a golf course, fishing ponds, children’s playgrounds, and bike trails.
Take a Day Trip to Catalina Island
If you are spending a few days in Long Beach before or after your cruise, plan to take a day trip to Catalina Island. The Catalina Express transports you to this beautiful island in just one hour. The picturesque seaside town of Avalon boasts several dining options, shopping, beaches, and other fun-filled activities.
The town is walkable, but you can also rent a golf cart or book an organized tour to explore more of the area. Some tour options include sightseeing, ziplining, or even a journey into Catalina’s rugged interior on an American bison expedition.
Have a Magical Day at Disneyland
Another fun-filled day trip from Long Beach is a visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. Disneyland is located about 30 minutes away from Long Beach but can take longer depending on traffic. You can choose to visit Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, or both theme parks. With classics like Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean, along with the unique Incredicoaster, Radiator Springs Racers, Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission: BREAKOUT, and the new Stars Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you are sure to have magical day.
Have you taken a cruise out of California? Do you agree with our list of the Top Things to Do in Long Beach on a Cruise? Drop us an anchor below with some of your favorite activities in this coastal city.