Big City Family Fun

Seals and Ships! Top Things to do in Long Beach California with Kids

Tour the Queen Mary, what to do in Long Beach with kids.
Tour The Queen Mary to witness the glory of the high seas. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

About 25 miles south of Downtown Los Angeles,  Long Beach offers fun in the sun for families. A popular cruise port, cruisers should arrive early and spend the day exploring before embarking at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal. With an aquarium, whale-watching, and several beaches, plus more, here are the top things to do in Long Beach with kids.

19 Top Things to Do in Long Beach with Kids

  • The Queen Mary
  • Harbor Breeze Cruises
  • Aquarium of the Pacific
  • Long Beach Bike Share
  • The Pike Ferris Wheel
  • 1920 Herschel Spillman Carousel
  • Swan Boats
  • The Lion Lighthouse
  • Shoreline Village and Boardwalk
  • Pelican Pier Carousel
  • Long Beach Museum of Art
  • Naples Canal Gondolas
  • Long Beach City Beach
  • Rosie’s Dog Beach
  • Mother’s Beach
  • Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
  • Rosie the Riveter Park
  • El Dorado Nature Center
  • Museum of Latin American Art

The Queen Mary

Once the queen of the seas, she crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the East Coast to and from England. In 1967 the RMS Queen Mary moored in the Long Beach Harbor. Now a maritime destination, some consider her haunted with multiple accounts of ghostly sightings walking the decks.

Take the tour to learn about the history of the RMS Queen Mary, including a tour of duty during WWII for troop transport. Walk through the model room with scale models of various ships and see the LEGO version of the Queen Mary.

The Queen Mary offers several tours from the Steam and Steel Tour, The Glory Days Tour and the Haunted Encounters Tour. Reservation required. Tours start at $40 for adults and $30 for kids. This is one of the top things to do in Long Beach with kids.

Located at 1126 Queens Highway.

Harbor Breeze Cruises

All aboard for family fun with a scenic cruise in Long Beach that lasts 45 minutes. The narrated cruise floats through the busy Long Beach Harbor, full of activity from the seals to the views of the Queen Mary. It’s one of the top things to do in Long Beach with kids. Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for kids (5 -11).

If it’s whale season, then book a whale-watching cruise out of Long Beach. The 2 1/2 hour tour heads into the Pacific Ocean and there’s the opportunity to see humpback whales, blue whales, grey whales, minke whales along with orcas. Each whale-watching cruise features an interpreter from the Aquarium of the Pacific. Tickets are $50 for adults and $35 for kids (5 -11).

Located at 100 Aquarium WayDock #2 in Long Beach. Advance reservations are recommended, and cruises depart daily.

Aquarium of the Pacific

A must for families, the Aquarium of the Pacific houses over 10,000 animals from 500 different species and it’s one of the top things to do in Long Beach with kids. With animals from the West Coast to the tropics, kids encounter a wide assortment of marine life. Find an exhibit dedicated to baby marine life along with galleries covering the animals of Southern California and Baja.

Another top exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific explores its coral reefs. The shark tank is another hit among guests as is the sea otter exhibit. As a kids’ favorite, spend a little extra time at the touch tanks.

Located at 100 Aquarium Way in Long Beach. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with extended hours during school holidays. Adult admission is $44.95 and kids (3 -11) are $29.95 with a senior discount. Weekend reservations are required. Park at the Pike and Shoreline Village for $8.

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Ride a Bike in Long Beach
With separate bike lanes, it’s easy for families to explore Long Beach on wheels. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Long Beach Bike Share

If everyone is willing, rent bikes from the Long Beach Bike Share Program. With multiple bike racks around the downtown area, it’s convenient for families with kids in middle school and older, though helmets aren’t included.

From the parking lot of the Queen Mary, find dedicated bike/walk lanes across the bridge to Shoreline Village. The bridge was a bit of a challenge for me though my teen had no problems.

Park the bikes in the rack and remember to take your belongings. If you park your bike in the official bike rack, the time on the meter stops. But your bike is open for another biker though I didn’t have a problem finding a bike during the weekend.

Several bike racks across downtown Long Beach. Rent by the hour with the app.

The Pike Ferris Wheel

Chances are the kid will see the Ferris Wheel before the adults. It’s one of the top things to do in Long Beach with kids.  Located in front of the Pike Outlets, the 90-foot Ferris Wheel offers some of the best views of Long Beach and the marina.

Located at 95 S. Pine St. in Long Beach. Open from Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Each ride is $6 a rider.

1920 Herschel Spillman Carousel

It’s a treasure from 1920 that started on the East Coast with stops in New Hampshire and Missouri before landing on the West Coast. Before Long Beach, this carousel delighted kids in Santa Barbara.

Located at 95 S. Pine St. in Long Beach. Open from Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Each ride is $4 a rider.

Swan Boat Rental 

Take a spin around Rainbow Lagoon in a swan boat. Outfitted with an adjustable Bimini cover, it’s a fun pedal-powered activity. Reservations are required and are $11 for adults and $6 for those 17 and under. The swam feature lights for night swan boat rentals.

Located at Shoreline Dr. and S. Pine Ave. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Adults are $12 and kids are $7. Reservations are required.

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The Rainbow Lighthouse
The Rainbow Lighthouse offers lots of space for family picnics. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Lion Lighthouse

Located next to the Aquarium of the Pacific near Shoreline Park, the Lion Lighthouse is not a functioning lighthouse. Though it has lots of grass, perfect for an afternoon or evening picnic.

Shoreline Village and Boardwalk

The boardwalk in Shoreline Village is lined with souvenir shops. It’s a pleasant bike ride for families though watch for bike route signs and walk your bike around the aquarium.

Located at 429 Shoreline Village Dr. in Long Beach. Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Pelican Pier Carousel

Don’t miss the Pelican Pier Carousel in the arcade. Looking for a bit of throwback fun for the kids. Grab some tokens and play the games in the arcade.

Located at 411 Shoreline Village Dr. in Long Beach. Open from Monday to Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., Friday from noon to midnight, Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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Pelican Pier Carousel
The Pelican Pier Carousel is a must for the young at heart. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Long Beach Museum of Art

With its location along Ocean Avenue, not from the Shoreline Village area, the Long Beach Museum of Art is a walkable destination. With over 3,200 works, its collection offers pieces from 300 years of American and European art in several mediums, like furniture from Eames. In addition, it has a focus on ceramics.

The on-site restaurant, Claire’s serves brunch and lunch and overlooks the sculpture garden.

Located at 2300 Ocean Ave. in Long Beach. Open from Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $12, students are $10, and kids (12 and younger) are free. Free parking is available close by.

Naples Canal Gondolas

Since 1982, the traditionally dressed gondoliers have navigated the canals around the Naples Islands. In the oldest fleet of gondolas in the U.S. (this is a good thing) passengers from couples to groups enjoy a bit of Italy in Southern California.

Departing from 5437 E. Ocean Blvd.  For a private gondola, it’s $120 for two people and $30 for each additional person up to 6 for a 50-minute ride. Guests can bring a bottle of wine, and the gondola features an ice bucket along with a blanket. Add-ons include roses and appetizers for date night. There’s also a larger gondola for meals and groups of up to 10.

Long Beach City Beach

Just pass Shoreline Village, families can splash in the water at Long Beach City Beach. Since a breakwater protects the Long Beach Harbor, Long Beach beaches are calm compared to other Southern California beaches. Perfect little kids wanting to splash and this area is popular with kayaking and SUP boarding.

Located along E. Ocean Blvd at Redondo Ave.

Alamitos Water Playground 

During the summer, a large floating play structure beckons kids and more about 50 feet over the shore from Alamitos Beach. It’s free to use and the lifeguards on duty from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily through the summer.

Located close to the intersection of E. Shoreline Dr. and Ocean Blvd.

Rosie’s Dog Beach

Yep, this beach is for the dogs. It’s a 4-acre stretch of sand for off-leash play. BYOF: Bring Your Own Frisbee

Located at 5000 E. Ocean Blvd. Open from dawn to dusk.

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Mother’s Beach

With its protected location inside Alamitos Bay,  it features small waves, a shallow swimming area and lifeguards. There’s a playground too.

Located at 5839 Appain Way. Open from dawn to dusk.

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Located on the California State University, Long Beach, this 1.3-acre Japanese garden features a pond with koi fish and a bridge along with graceful landscaping.

Located on Determination Dr. on the CSU-Long Beach. Parking is available at G4 lot, and it’s $6 for one hour. Advance reservations are required though it is free to visit. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rosie the Riveter Park

During WWII, women worked in the Douglas Aircraft Plant assembling warplanes. With a poster emblazoned with We Can Do It women who worked across California worked in shipyards and aircraft facilities. This park is dedicated to them.

Located at Clark Avenue and Conant Street. Open from dawn to dusk and free to enter.

El Dorado Nature Center

Explore the 105-acre site near the San Gabriel River with lakes and 2 miles of hiking trails. Cross the bridge across the lake to the visitor center with interpretive programming.

Located at 7550 E. Spring St. in Long Beach. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking fee is $6 for weekdays and $7 for weekends.

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Museum of Latin American Art

With 1,500 works along with a sculpture garden, the MOLAA showcased modern and contemporary work from Latin America. It also offers a sculpture garden along with traveling exhibits and cultural events.

Located at 628 Alamito Ave. in Long Beach. Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adult admission is $15, students are $10 and kids 12 and under are free.

Where to Stay in Long Beach

Across the decks, I found the indoor pool (not open to visitors) and different mechanical rooms. With several restaurants, we ate at the Chelsea Chowder House. With its family-friendly menu, it worked for my kids. Grab Starbucks coffee or snacks at the Midship Marketplace and eat at the tables on the deck outside.

For a unique place to spend the night, book a stateroom on The Queen Mary. During our visit to Long Beach, we spent a night onboard. Best for families with older kids and remember it’s a vintage ship.

Located at 1126 Queens Hwy. in Long Beach.

Head south of Downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach, California. Find top activities like touring a top aquarium, riding on a ferris wheel, two carousels and rent a swan boat. Here's what to do in Long Beach California. Or stay overnight on the haunted Queen Mary Oceanliner. Got the details for a getaway with kids and more. What to do in Long Beach for one day | Day Trips from Los Angeles | Family Travel Destinations near LA | Where to stay in Long Beach #California #LongBeach


Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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