Long Beach, California, is an especially good summer destination, if you like to augment beach time with other adventures. Highlights in Long Beach 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 was in 1936 and was followed by hundreds crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The ship’s elite passengers were treated to the finest accommodations and dining.
When World War II broke out she was put into military service and was painted a drab gray, traveling 600,000 miles as a troopship and transporting more than 700,000 troops. After the war, the former “Gray Ghost” resumed her bright colors and her original role as a passenger liner. She made her final voyage in 1967, and soon after 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. One is the indoor art deco swimming pool, and where the mood is set with light effects, artificial fog and the sounds of water splashing and a child screaming, both 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 catch a glimpse of them is the three-story blue cavern exhibit. It’s patterned after a kelp forest that actually exists off of 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 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 that 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.
For more information, contact the attractions themselves at: The Queen Mary, https://www.queenmary.com, 800-437-2934; Aquarium of the Pacific http://www.aquariumofpacific.org, 562-590-3100; and Harbor Breeze Yacht Charters and Cruises, http://www.longbeachcruises.com, 562-983-6880.
Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled into books about hiking in the Southwest. She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the book “Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.
From Boulder City, take U.S. Highway 93/95 west to the 215 Beltway. Continue west to Interstate 15 and go south for 222 miles. Merge onto California Route 210 west toward Pasadena. After about 20 miles, it becomes Interstate 210; travel 7.1 more miles. Exit to Interstate 605 south and follow for 17.4 miles. Merge onto Interstate 105 west and drive 4.2 miles. Merge onto Interstate 710 south and drive 10.8 miles to Long Beach. Follow signs for the Queen Mary or the downtown area.