California: Long Beach, Family Vacation Ideas – Aquarium of the Pacific, Fanciful Art, and the Queen Mary.
Southern California is full of energizing experiences, pleasant surprises, and pure family fun. From gorgeous beach days and Gelato to ghost stories, sea lion encounters, and edgy art and awesome music – show up and fun just happens. Go under the sea.
If you have time for only one day of fun then this is the spot. Aquarium of the Pacific is a state-of-the-art aquarium that’s home to more than 12,000 creatures, including sharks, sea lions, and eels living within three different ecosystem exhibits. Great aquarium experiences include the opportunity to come face-to-face with, and even touch, sharks in Shark Lagoon, feeding lorikeet birds, check out a behind-the-scenes tour, and the 3D "Monsters of the Abyss" which explores the deep ocean. Bonus points:
The aquarium hosts three separate animal encounters, allowing visitors to interact with sea otters, seals and sea lions and even sharks. Wait for it!
In addition to fun and educational family programs and the aquarium sleepover experience, the coolest event may well be the free Friday night shark lagoon encounter. (100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach 90802. (562) 590-3100 or www.aquariumofpacific.org
) Sail into history.
Visitors to the legendary Queen Mary will enjoy the behind the scenes tour guided tour of the historic ocean liner and World War II troopship which explores the restored areas (including the isolation wards and the aft machine rooms) which have been under wraps ever since the Queen Mary’s final voyage in 1967. Discovery:
Ghost enthusiasts should check out the Queen Mary’s first-class swimming pool, which is a popular spot for ghost sightings. The pool is also part of the daily Ghosts & Legends walkthrough show onboard the Queen Mary which dramatizes actual paranormal events and historical occurrences which took place on the ship over the years. Bonus points:
Throughout the year various shows focusing on different eras of the ships history are hosted on board – from big band and cabaret to more contemporary hits. Wait for it!
The annual Queen Mary Scottish Festival includes piping and dancing competitions, highland games, sheep herding demonstrations, and lively entertainment. The Queen Mary’s annual Halloween Terror Fest – “Shipwreck”, delivers ultimate horror to brave participants. (Queen Mary 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach 90802. (562) 435-3511 or www.queenmary.com
) Revisit the Cold War.
Now docked in Long Beach, the Russian Attack Submarine, “Scorpion” b-427, is a great experience for the whole family. Visitors can tour the torpedo rooms, the crew’s quarters, the galley, machinery room and electronics spaces, and even look through the attack periscope. Exhibits explain what life was like onboard the Scorpion as she performed her top secret missions and assigned duties as a part of the Russian Navy. Discovery:
Five days a week visitors can meet and talk with an actual Russian submarine officer, Colonel Third Rank Igor Kolosov, who served on board the submarine during her Cold War service (Russian Attack Submarine 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach 90802. (562) 432-0424 or www.russiansublongbeach.com
) Check out art of the Americas.
The Museum of Latin American Art celebrates contemporary Latin American fine art through permanent collection and dynamic exhibitions and is the only museum in the western United States that exclusively features contemporary Latin American art. The permanent collection features 20 works of art which represent the countries of Latin America, the works are by artists that are well-known in their home country and internationally recognized. In addition to the permanent collection over 900 works of art – painting, sculpture, photography and more – are also on display. Discovery:
Every Sunday families can take advantage of a variety of art and music related workshops, live dance and music performances and more as a part of Target Free Sundays @ MOLAA. (Museum of Latin American Art 628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach 90802. (562) 437-1689 or www.molaa.com
) Get out on the water.
Kayaks on the Water is a kayak rental company located at the user-friendly marina at Alamitos Bay, the “best kept secret” between Los Angeles and Orange County. The water is usually calm and flat while the beaches are beautiful with very little boat traffic. Kayaks on the Water offers single kayaks and double kayaks at affordable rates. Bonus points:
From Alamitos Bay, you can kayak to restaurants at six different locations along the water. Budding naturalists will love discovering the “moon-jelly” cove and the birds that call the nearby wildlife refuge their home. (Kayaks on the Water 5411 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach 90802. (562) 434-0999 or www.kayakrentals.net
) Dig the art.
The Long Beach Museum of Art is a repository of amazing art. The museum’s permanent collection boasts almost 3000 painting, drawings, sculptures, works on paper, furniture and more. Highlights of the collection include ceramic art (spanning 300 years), early 20th century European art, California Modernism and contemporary art of California. Bonus point: Members and children younger than 12 are admitted free, and every Friday everyone gets in for free. Discovery:
The museum offers a variety of educational art programs for children and adults. (Long Beach Museum of Art 2300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach 90802. (562) 439-2119 or www.lbma.org