Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More fun in Long Beach neighborhoods

When in Long Beach live life outside.
Downtown has reasons enough to visit Long Beach but add in the surrounding neighborhoods plus public transportation to them and you'll want to lengthen your stay.

Fourth Street and Retro Row are hot spots for the cafe crowd and bargain hunters alike. Tables spill onto sidewalks between new-to-you and antique-ish shops. The mood is lively and young although I saw all ages congregating there.

The Belmont Shore area is an 11-block stretch with cutting edge to retro boutiques, cafes and bistros.

The Naples district is known as Little Italy. CSI Miami films here and Michael's on Naples is considered one of the city's top restaurants. 

Ready to ride the canals.
Head to the marina at Seaport Village if you want to try a hydrobike. Someone's bound to urge you to, so go ahead, but realize this is the least efficient way man has ever devised to travel atop water.

Sight-seeing by hydrobike.
It is fun to peddle through the Naples Island canals but if there's a strong breeze blowing, I'd recommend something else.

Board, bike or kayak but get outside.
Tip: No hills, no stairs, Levelers, but the big deal is how many calories are expended moving you and the bike - 600 calories an hour - which means very strenuous. It will tire you out and may be too much for many. A kayak would be a lot easier, a gondola ride better still.

If you have little ones along, go to nearby Mother's Beach, a peaceful, inland facing stretch of sand with toddler-sized ripples rather than waves.

Public transit Long Beach style, the AquaLink.
Tip: You can get here via public transit,  Aqua Bus, $2 each way, or by AquaLink, 90-passenger  catamaran, $3-$5 each way.

Plenty of room for bikes in Long Beach.
Streets are designed with ample room for bicyclists and bike tours are very popular. Cali Bike Tours is downtown, an easy walk from the major hotels, but they tend to overestimate their visiting pedalers' endurance.

Museum of Latin American Art
According to Susan Golden, its vice-president of communications, Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) is the only museum in the United States totally dedicated to contemporary Latin American art.

Sculpture garden

You won't believe the transformation from roller rink to stunning, green museum. The outdoor sculpture garden includes a gardener's delight of cacti and succulents and the traveling exhibits are engaging.

A visitor tries out Capula X by Mexican Pedro Reyes.
Especially "Play with Me," an interactive array of installments that brought out the kid in visitors.

I didn't have time to see the restoration work done to the early Spanish era ranchos, Rancho Los Cerritos or Rancho Los Alamitos, so that's where I'll start the next time I'm in Long Beach.

 If that's not enough to entertain you, look for a festival; there are 200 ethnic ones every year. According to the last census, Long Beach is the most ethnically diverse city for its size in America.


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