The Long Beach Bucket List: 29 Things to Do Before You Die
Bad news, chief, you are going to die. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but definitely two days from now. Before you do though, 1) can we have your BIG JAMBOX when you’re dead?, and 2) make sure you do all 29 of the things on our Long Beach bucket list below.
6. Hook a left at 21st Street and Lewis AvenueOne of the most infamous intersections in West Coast hip-hop was placed into the pop culture pantheon by the Warren G song “Regulate.” In reality, it’s a pretty unremarkable intersection in Eastside Long Beach, but you can still do as the song says and “hook a left at 21 and Lewis.” There may or may not be guys rolling dice for you to say, “Let’s do this.”
9. Do a couple of laps through the traffic circleSome people freak out when they approach the massive traffic circle that serves as the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway, Lakewood Boulevard, and Los Coyotes Diagonal, but if you follow the signs and use your blinker (ummm common sense?), you’ll survive. For fun, though, miss that exit the first time around and keep going. And keep going. You’ll feel like a rule-breaker as you do donuts around the largest traffic circle in SoCal.
12. Walk the Naples canals at ChristmastimeYou’ll never be able to afford to live in Naples, so you might as well enjoy walking around it. The best time is Christmas when everyone decks out their dockside homes and you can stroll the canals like it’s Christmas Tree Lane. Because it kind of is. Minus the snow.
14. Have a Sunday FundaySunday Fundays are a weekly ritual in Long Beach. Here’s how to pull them off the right way.
17. Hike Signal HillOnce blanketed by oil wells, Signal Hill is now blanketed by tract homes and oil wells, many of which are still bobbing around between houses. Drive to the top and hike any of the multiple trails around the mound’s perimeter and you’ll get views of Orange County, Downtown LA, and Catalina Island.
one of our picks for the best bars in Long Beach -- since it opened in 1920. It still serves the same Polish bar food and frosty schooners of light beer as it did when it was a speakeasy during Prohibition, and you can still play the long-dead game of snooker on full-size tables in the wooden back room. Eat one of the yellow pickled eggs (served in a napkin with some pepperoncini and pretzel sticks) and your life will never be the same again.
19. Eat at Berth 55The last bastion of public access in the Port of Long Beach is this fish market where you can buy live lobster, grilled salmon, and/or fresh Alaskan king crab legs and eat them off paper plates at red picnic tables overlooking the looming shipping cranes of the city’s largest economic engine.
20. Visit the Jenni Rivera muralThe newest addition to Long Beach’s public art arsenal, the mural devoted to La Diva de la Banda is an epic montage along a wall inside the recently christened Jenni Rivera Memorial Park. Walk through, hang out with the butterflies that are inevitably fluttering around, and remember how one of the biggest female singers in Mexican regional music was straight outta La Playa Larga.
22. Put your foot in the waterIf you’re not scared to be in Long Beach, you shouldn’t be scared to dip your toes in the water. Sure, there’s a massive breakwater that prevents waves from happening and there’s that huge industrial port over yonder, but Heal the Bay continually gives the water at Long Beach’s beaches positive grades. Unless it just rained -- then it’s gross.
24. Step back in time at one of the historic ranchosBack in the days of Spanish ownership, the land that is now Long Beach was actually on two ranches: Rancho Los Alamitos and Rancho Los Cerritos. Today, the houses lived in by the last generation to own the properties (the Bixbys for both) are historic sites where you can check out the furnished homes, wander the gardens, see the stables, and pretend it’s still 1865.
26. Three words: drag queen brunchSundays are made for brunching in Long Beach and there is no better way to suck down bottomless mimosas until you need a disco nap than while getting yelled at by a bunch of feisty drag queens. Some bars put on a drag show, others make them call out bingo numbers, but either way the city has more drag queen brunches than biker bars, which says... something. Like... “we didn’t love the last season of Sons of Anarchy.”
27. Go to the aquariumIt’s full of screaming children on field trips most weekdays and screaming children and their tired parents on weekends, but braving young heathens is a small price to pay to marvel at the sheer beauty of Pacific Ocean sea life. More than 11,000 fish, sharks, penguins, and other water creatures call the Aquarium of the Pacific home (tanks on tanks on tanks). And with the new jellyfish exhibit, you can pet the creepy, spineless animals and then eat one cooked at the on-site cafe.
28. Ride a bikeSeriously, this should be something on your bucket list no matter where you are, but there are billions of dollars now dropped into bicycle infrastructure in this town, meaning it’s easier and safer than ever to roll around on two wheels. Go down Broadway or Third Street on Southern California’s first separated bike lanes (with their own traffic lights too!), and if you’re on the East side, there’s the Vista Bike Boulevard, which lets you blaze through roundabouts all the way to Belmont Shore.
29. Wait in line for breakfast on a SundayOf course you’d eat breakfast in any city, but in Long Beach, breakfast is more of a religion rather than the first meal of the day. There are dozens of breakfast-only spots throughout the city and the lines outside of each of them on Sunday mornings rival the crowds at nearby churches. No matter where you go to eat yours on Sunday, there will be a line. Don’t try to go to the next place in the hopes that it doesn’t have a line, just put your name down and wait in it. If there is no line, it’s not good.
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Sarah Bennett is the food editor at LA Weekly and a freelance writer covering beer, music, culture, Long Beach, and beyond. Follow her on Twitter: @thesarahbennett.