While situated close to Disneyland, Universal Studio Hollywood and Los Angeles proper, Long Beach is a true city and destination in its own right. The waterfront city has just about everything that one would need in a California destination. That not only includes beaches and non-humid weather but also live entertainment venues, recurring festivals, sporting events, breweries, shopping districts, museums, and solid public transportation.
We had the pleasure of visiting Long Beach, California for a wonderful long weekend in July 2019 — Long Beach Airport offers direct flights to and from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, thanks to JetBlue Airways — which coincided with the POW! WOW! Long Beach festival. We also had the pleasure of doing Q&A with some local experts about their hometown of Long Beach:
- Billy Mohler – Owner of Cal Heights Music
- Sharifah Hardie – Host of the Ask Sharifah Videocast & Podcast
- Silvano Merlo – General Manager of the Courtyard Long Beach Downtown
- Adam Busch – Musician & Actor (FOX’s Proven Innocent, Amazon’s Gander, Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
In the meantime, more on Long Beach can be found online!
What do you enjoy most about Long Beach?
Billy Mohler: Long Beach has an incredible sense of community! It truly feels like a “small town” in a big city. I also love all of the incredible parks and green spaces — El Dorado Nature Center is my personal favorite.
Sharifah Hardie: I absolutely love living close to the beach. It’s nice to have a nice ocean breeze in a place with so much to do. From events at Rainbow Lagoon Park to the restaurants on Shoreline Village. It’s wonderful to be able to take the kids to the Aquarium Of The Pacific or get scared out of your wits aboard The Queen Mary. There is always something to do.
Silvano Merlo: Long Beach is a vibrant city with a “small town” feeling. Everyone knows each other and they all root for the continuous evolvement of their beautiful city. There is an incredible renaissance that has occurred in the last decade. The city is still one of the best-kept secrets in the West Coast and there are people speculating it will become the “Vancouver of Southern California.”
Adam Busch: The sunsets. Colors I’ve never seen before fire up the sky every night as the sun sets. It happens daily and it’s free. They are just giving it away.
What do you wish more people knew about Long Beach?
Billy Mohler: Long Beach has an incredible music scene! From great venues to cool record stores, to free public concerts in the parks. Long Beach is also the proud home of one of the longest-running Municipal Bands — 110 years — that performs every summer in the local parks. Also, the Long Beach Symphony is phenomenal!
Sharifah Hardie: I wish more people knew how diverse Long Beach is. No matter what you enjoy, there is something for everyone here.
Silvano Merlo: That it is truly becoming a great destination for tourists and it is the perfect city for business and conferences. Did I mention that we have over 300 days of sunshine?
Adam Busch: It’s not as far away as you think. Getting through Los Angeles — that’s the tough part.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Long Beach?
Billy Mohler: Long Beach is home to more great mom and pops restaurants than any city around! To pick one would not be fair, but we’ve got the best coffee shops on the coast. The Merchant, Steelhead, Wolf Brew, Commodity, BlackRing, Rosa Parks, and Lord Windsor — to name a few — RULE!
Sharifah Hardie: Yes. I really enjoy Mexican food. There’s a little restaurant that I go to a few times a week, Tacos Y Mariscos La Fuente, on Anaheim Boulevard. I just love their ceviche.
Silvano Merlo: James Republic comes to mind, but it is also located adjacent to the hotel. And, with over 100 restaurants in Downtown, it is hard to pick only one.
Adam Busch: You can’t go wrong with Cambodian food. However my favorite name of a restaurant is Schooner Or Later.
What was the last concert you saw in Long Beach?
Billy Mohler: Sea Ritual at Alex Bar.
Sharifah Hardie: I don’t go to concerts — hardly any time for fun these days.
Silvano Merlo: I’m not much of a concert-goer.
Adam Busch: Modus is a great original band with an authentically Long Beach sound blending Dick Dale, The Growlers and The Smiths. 80’s cover band Knyght Ryder are a reliably-good reason to the leave the house.
Is there any city in the world that reminds you of Long Beach?
Billy Mohler: I think it’s a very unique city that is not easily compared. The city has more historic districts than any city on the West Coast. We’ve got the largest West Coast shipping port, an incredible aquarium, so you add that up with the “small town” feel, it’s truly one of a kind. The architecture in the historic districts is also unique to the city.
Sharifah Hardie: The funny thing is if you spend any time on Shoreline Village, the little stores will remind you of being in Venice, Italy. I enjoy the quaint little feel.
Silvano Merlo: Long Beach reminds me of Miami — without the humidity — and, by the way, we are larger in terms of population.
Adam Busch: Belmont Heights and Alamitos Bay all feel like small towns in Iowa. Council Bluffs or somewhere out in the midwest. They are so close to L.A. but wear none of its influence. I very much enjoy that.
Have you been to any of the other towns or cities named “Long Beach” in the States?
Billy Mohler: Long Beach, NY.
Sharifah Hardie: I have not.
Silvano Merlo: No.
Adam Busch: I have been to Long Beach, Long Island. It felt like Long Island. What it shares with its sister on the opposite coast is that it’s close to an influential city geographically but couldn’t be farther away from it culturally.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Billy Mohler: Check out our music school Cal Heights Music if you’re in Long Beach!
Sharifah Hardie: Long Beach is the city millions of people love to vacation, yet it is the city I am blessed to call home.
Silvano Merlo: I have been working in Long Beach for almost six years, and I love the vibe the city has to offer to locals and visitors alike.
Adam Busch: Allie Goertz is a Long Beach native and musician whose record I produced. Her father Travis plays lead guitar in Knyght Ryder.