If you follow me on instagram, you’ll probably know that I recently had the privilege of visiting the beautiful city of Long Beach to experience the active side of the California beach town. From bike riding to see the city’s gorgeous Pow! Wow! wall murals to long boarding for the first time and having a face to face experience with a real-life sea turtle, this trip was full of the exciting, the unexpected and the beautiful. We were even accompanied by two Long Beach locals who knew the best things to do, places to eat and where to go!
Read on to hear all about my long weekend in Long Beach (and we did A LOT in just 2 and a half days, so prepare for loads of photos!)
Our trip began with a flight into the gorgeous Long Beach Airport – a picturesque little building surrounded by palm trees and featuring local faire from Long Beach. I was immediately greeted by the gorgeous California sunny-and-75 weather and the nicest driver who took me and my new blogger friend, Mattie from Mattieologie, to the hotel we’d be staying at.
The Hyatt Centric at the Pike is located just a short walk from the beach and surrounded by amazing outlet shops and a darling little ferris wheel. The rooms offered up great views (and the coziest beds!) and the hotel even has a rooftop pool that we got to enjoy for a short time during a break on our itinerary.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to meet other influencers from all over the US. I immediately hit it off with fashion bloggers Ria Michelle from Miami and Mattie from Atlanta. Ria is a gorgeous, fierce beauty who has the most infectious laugh and Mattie is a girl boss (and also a momma!) who even hosts her own blogger conference across the US. It was so amazing to get to know these babes – I learned so much from them both and have gained two new sources of inspiration for my own little bloggy blog.
Since we arrived a little early, the three of us headed to grab some local grub across the street from the hotel (the food here was SO amazing, y’all!)
**photo by Faith Mari
Speaking of meeting other influencers – Faith Mari is an incredible photographer and social media maven who I had the pleasure of meeting on the trip. This girl is a true visionary, y’all – she has an eye for the most gorgeous photography, especially when it comes to traveling, and I got to be in some of her shots, which you’ll see throughout this blog post. Another influencer I got to meet on the trip was Staci from November Sunflower. This Long Islander is a lifestyle blogger who is absolutely hilarious with her no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point voice that shines through on her blog and she was crackin’ us up throughout the whole trip.
Our first official kickoff to the weekend started at the gorgeous Hotel Maya’s Fuego Bar where we enjoyed appetizers, delicious drinks and a tour of the beachside boutique hotel. This bar has the largest selection of premium tequilas in the region (so you know this girl went straight for the margaritas). The lobby alone was so spectacular (pictured above) we simply had to take some super non-posed, candid shots. 😉
**photo by Faith Mari
Next up, we headed out to the Queen Mary, a gorgeous, giant ship that is twice the size of the Titanic and still boasts the amazing Art Deco interiors that it debuted with in the 1930’s. The ship is now permanently docked in the port of Long Beach and features a hotel (where you can stay in the actual port rooms!), a museum and restaurants. It also happens to be one of the most haunted places in America, so you won’t catch me staying there, but it was SO cool to tour the gorgeous, historic ship.
We got treated to an amazing five-star dinner at Sir Winston’s aboard the Queen Mary and it was absolutely divine!
The next morning started off with a tour of the artsy side of the city – starting with the Long Beach Museum of Art, which is currently featuring an amazing exhibition called Vitality and Verve, a culmination of multi-media artwork and installations from renowned contemporary urban artists (AKA – it’s SO cool and has lots of street art vibes! Next we headed to the Museum of Latin American Art MOLAA – the nation’s leading exhibition of modern and contemporary art by Latin American artists featured in the most stunning building. We continued the Latin vibe with lunch (and margaritas again!) at the amazing Lola’s. Being a Texas girl, I’m definitely a harsh critic on any type of Mexican cuisine and this was absolutely delicious! A must-have if you’re in the area!
Lunch was followed by a stroll down Retro Row, an amazing street filled with fun, vintage shops, and I of course changed my dress because it’s 100% normal to wear 4-5 outfits a day (lolzz – but it was all so beautiful I had to get as many outfit photos in as I could!)
For the afternoon, we hit the beach with options for water sports activities and since I’d seen too many kayakers tip over, I decided to go for the longboard. I had never long boarded before, but lucky for me, Ria and Mattie weren’t experts either, so we all took a short but very informative lesson and headed out. It was SO much fun to paddle through the gorgeous Naples Canal and even better – I didn’t fall! YAY!
After all of that fun in the sun we were definitely hungry and the dinner schedule did not disappoint. We were all treated to a dine around Long Beach experience, with courses as follows:
1: appetizers and champagne at Federal Bar – a stunning downtown bank-turned-restaurant which has the most amazing speakeasy downstairs that you go through the old actual bank vault to get to (we got a private tour and it was amazing!) My favorite of the delicious appetizers was the “dirty chips” which you can see a snap of (taken from my Snapchat y’all, I apologize for the poor quality) but they were AMAZING.
2: salads at George’s Greek – this was probably the best Greek salad I’ve ever had, complete with homemade pita bread (100% the best pita I’ve ever had!) and a “flaming cheese appetizer. We even got to meet George himself!
3: main course at Michael’s Pizzeria – for the main course, we ate the most delicious authentic wood fired Napoli-style pizza on the patio around a fire. This stuff was mouth-wateringly good, y’all. If you’re a pizza fan, you MUST stop at this spot in Long beach.
4: chocolate and wine tasting at the Sky Room – I don’t know what was better at this spot – the 360 views of the city or the amazing chocolate and dessert port (not to mention the adorable French waiter who walked us through the tasting!) I would have loved to stay at this place all night – located atop the historic Breakers Hotel (the first West Coast Hilton property built in 1926!) the restaurant offers stunning views and live music too. Such an amazing atmosphere – I’d love to go back for dinner!
Our next morning started off with breakfast at Breakfast Bar – a cute local establishment with delicious brunchy food, and then we headed off to the Aquarium of The Pacific for a behind-the-scenes tour.
Okay I definitely appreciate art – but this miiight have been my favorite part of the trip. I LOVE animals and sea turtles just so happen to be my favorite sea creature, so when we headed behind the scenes to feed and watch the sea turtles and more up-close, I was like, “WHOA!” (Finding Nemo pun intended). It was just magical to see these beautiful animals up close and so wonderful to hear of how Aquarium Pacific takes such good care of their animals and works to preserve their natural habitats and endangered species. This little guy was a rescue – they found him with a fish hook and are rehabbing him to get him back to the ocean – SO CUTE!!
Next on the agenda – a bike tour to see Long Beach’s amazing Pow! Wow! wall murals – so basically a blogger’s heaven! I hadn’t rode a bike since elementary school, so I was a bit nervous but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and luckily, Long Beach has lots of bike lane son their downtown streets so I felt super safe!
The Pow! Wow! murals in Long Beach are part of an incredible worldwide initiative that began in Hawaii and was born from Native American tradition. As you can see, the street art that this has produced in the city truly has a wow factor. You can read more about the Pow! Wow! murals in Long Beach here.
The bike tours were followed by a little exploration of the most darling and oh-so-colorful boardwalk I ever laid eyes on called Shoreline Village. This picturesque boardwalk features shops and restaurants, so you know I had to stop for an ice cream cone (which I’ll admit was 50% just so I could get a photo of it on this darling pink wall). We finished with lunch at Parker’s Lighthouse, which offered up amazing views of the water.
Our post lunch adventures took us to the World Series of Beach Volleyball where we got to see the U.S. men’s team beat Italy to make into the finals! Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to get a good photo because my phone died at this point, but it was SO much fun to watch and so cool to see the giant crowd the event drew on the beach.
We finished our trip in the most magical way imaginable – with a sunset gondola getaway cruise around Alamitos Bay and through the Naples Canal. These are actual gondola’s and driven by gondoliers who go to Venice each year to compete! Our cruise was complete with wine and cheese and a live serenade from one of the gondoliers – just heavenly! We completed the beautiful day with another dinner with a view at Boathouse on the Bay.
I couldn’t have imagine a more amazing experience in Long Beach. I seriously came back and told Cole I think I wanna move there! From the gorgeous weather and views to the friendly people and amazing food, there is so much to see and do in Long Beach!