I showed up to Long Beach after a long 2 day drive that crossed over way more desert than I bargained for. I arrived just at nightfall, with enough energy to recognize the salty air and ocean breeze through the palm trees on neighborhood streets. It was surreal, it was exactly what I was missing. After a day or two of feeling lost in my new surroundings, I ended up making friendships that I know will last a lifetime. How is it that so much can happen in such a short amount of time, that bonds can form and that the most wonderful people can cross your path, altering it maybe forever? I am not sure, but here’s my wrap up of my time in Long Beach, known to the locals as LBC.
I rented a small apartment less than 2 miles from downtown, and just a couple short blocks to the shore. It was within walking distance to several local shops and restaurants, and a couple fantastic cafes. Also close to the bike trail that connects beaches together and goes on for a lot longer than I could imagine. Where I stayed was residential and quiet at night, and yet still provided easy access to all that’s happening in Long Beach.
This might shock you, but although I investigated coworking spaces in Long Beach and Los Angeles, I didn’t end up working out of any. I’ll pause here so you can officially gasp! ….. okay, here are my thoughts. Coworking is a natural need, and a great way to get work done while being surrounded by likeminded people. You enter a coworking space in search of community and some structure. You generally leave with great connections and so much more. Well, I already had all of that, before ever setting foot in a coworking space here in Long Beach. So I decided to go with the flow instead.
I worked out of two cafes that were located within walking distance to my apartment. The first was Hot Java, which had a fantastic cup of chai and a playlist that would leave you dancing in your seat on any day! The second was Portfolio Coffee, which also featured a great cup of coffee, ample seating, and open mic nights on Fridays. Additionally, I worked from the home of a new friend (a fellow traveling graphic designer), who had a very nice office set up waiting for me.
THINGS YOU MUST DO
FARMERS MARKET: Their Farmers Market is open on Tuesday evenings in Bixby Park and features live music as well as produce/flower vendors in a circular fashion around the park. Food vendors have good eats for dinner, and you can also shop local for groceries.
YOGA ON THE BEACH: Just past Bixby Park on the other side of Ocean Blvd there is a shaded area where yoga on the beach is held, weekdays at 11am and 6pm. Breathe your way through yoga poses while taking in the serenity of the beach atmosphere around you.
SEABIRD JAZZ LOUNGE: Fantastic speak easy lounge that is multi generational and full of people having a good time while listening to live music. We swayed in lounge style seating to bluesy jazz with hip hop nodes. It was truly a good time.
AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC: Sweet afternoon adventure featuring a good array of aquatic life. Feel like a kid again and learn something new too.
BIKE/HIKE: Several biking and hiking trails within a short drive from Long Beach. The beach bike trail is literally right on the beach!
EAT GOOD FOOD
Now, I am a more of a health nut, so my choices were definitely on the healthy side, but if you are a foodie, you should live it up. You literally can’t go wrong. Use a app like Yelp or Urban Spoon to find local recommendations or a palette that satisfies your appetite. Then go in and try it out.
Places I went:
- Hot Java (fantastic music playlist and the best chai in town)
- Portfolio Coffee (open mic night on Fridays)
- Belmont Brewing Company (gorgeous deck overlooking the water, short bike ride, great food/drinks)
- La Creperie Cafe (intricately decorated, delicious range of sweet and savory crepes, excellent wines)
- Schooner or Later (breakfast, brunch, good for meetings, outdoor seating on the dock)
- Claires (also on the water with outdoor seating, yellow umbrellas and a nice lunch menu)
- The Greenhouse (sweet little tea house, after you place your order look up and that chandelier)
- District Wine (loved the sparking wine sampling here, tapas and big comfy chairs)
- The Federal (incredibly tall ceilings with intricate detail, and good drinks too)
- Agaves Bar (delicious guacamole and margaritas)
I used CouchSurfing.org to initially get introduced to Long Beach. From here someone amazing reached out, and I can honestly say the rest is history. Sometimes it happens this way, and I’m always happy when it does. Basically one person causes a ripple effect, and next thing I know, I’m connected to a sea of wonderful people.
I also made a point to stay in contact with someone I connected with when I was looking to stay in Long Beach. Her place ended up not being available, but being that we both worked in the creative industry, we thought it would be a good idea to stay connected. That led to everything from sushi meals, to mojitos, to karaoke, and some potential opportunities to work together in the future.
Truth be told, you never know who you are going to meet. But if you are open, it will always be an adventure.
Long Beach, you have not seen the last of me. I will pass through again, rustling up the memories of my first trip through town, and creating some new ones too.