The following is a sponsored collaboration between Hilton and We Like L.A and was originally posted on We Like L.A.’s blog on 3/1/18
A few weeks back the folks at Hilton presented us with an offer we simply couldn’t refuse: Come enjoy a complimentary stay at the beautiful Hotel Maya (a DoubleTree hotel by Hilton), explore the downtown Long Beach area, and tell our readers all about our adventures.
Long Beach, and specifically downtown Long Beach, provides a perfect blend of landmark attractions, cultural experiences, and delicious dining options for staycationers of all types. For Angelenos on the search for a getaway idea that won’t break the bank and is just a short distance away, LB is a fantastic choice.
The Hotel Maya provided the perfect jumping off point for getting to know the area. The hotel is situated on a palm tree-lined resort on the south side of Queensway Bay, almost within shouting distance of the Queen Mary. The Latin vibe and decor is chill, the views are great, and there’s even a man-made beach with cabanas to help relax on hot summer days and fire pits for guests to toast marshmallows during the evenings. And you’re only minutes away from most of Long Beach’s most famous things to do.
One other great thing was at the time you could book with Participating Hilton hotels in Los Angeles and Orange County who offered a Dine In/Dine Out package where you can save up to 20% off dinner at your hotel restaurant, local food tours or at one of many participating local restaurants during your stay.
Things to Do & See
You can only do and see so much if you’re on a two or three-day vacation, but luckily, we’re expert planners and were able to get a lot done in a short window. You may or may not want to pack in as much as we did, but we’re here to give you options.
One note on getting around: The Passport is a free bus that connects you to many of downtown Long Beach’s signature attractions including the Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific, Pine Avenue, City Place Mall, The Pike at Rainbow Harbor, Convention Center, and Shoreline Village. We suggest taking advantage of it if you can!
Ok, now let’s take a look of some of the experiences you might want to check out for yourself.
The Aquarium of the Pacific
Fun fact: The Aquarium of the Pacific is the fourth most-attended aquarium in the nation. With over 11,000 animals on display in more than 50 exhibits, there’s no better place in SoCal to get to know the biodiversity of the Pacific Ocean. The sea otters will make you smile, the manta rays will inspire awe and wonder, and the sharks will shiver your spine (though you’ll learn they’re far less scary than you think!) → More information
The Queen Mary
It’s very rare to be able to step on to a piece of living history, but the Queen Mary offers just that. Retired from service in 1967, the Queen Mary sailed to Southern California the same year and has called Long Beach home ever since. The ship now serves as a tourist attraction with restaurants, a museum, and hotel. On board you can take a guided tour, explore the gift shops, poke your head into an exhibit with a massive LEGO replica of the ship itself, or just wander the decks and interior (like we did!) soaking up the views and hunting for Instagram opportunities. → More information
Museum of Latin American Art
The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) is the only museum in the United States dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art. The permanent exhibition space includes work by Rufino Tamayo, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Los Carpinteros and Tunga. There are also special exhibitions and events happening all the time that you might be able to check out. BONUS: Sundays at MoLAA are free thanks to the kind folks at Target, and the museum also offers free admission on every fourth Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. → More information
Long Beach Museum of Art
The Long Beach Museum isn’t grand by square footage, but the collection is diverse with more than 3,200 works encompassing 300 years of American and European art in all media. Some highlights include furniture by Charles and Ray Eames, ceramics by Beatrice Wood, and sculptures by Claire Falkenstein, George Rickney and Peter Voulokos. Regular adult admission is $7, but keep in mind they offer free entry on Thursdays from 3 to 8 p.m., and on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. → More information
Retro Row on 4th St.
Simply put, Retro Row offers one of the most densely packed vintage shopping destinations in all of L.A. County. Within a few city blocks you’ll find vintage-inspired clothing and furnishings, record stores, a 50s-style barbershop, a restored 1920’s Art Theatre, and lots more. The area also features many locally-owned restaurants and coffee shops, plus every month they have a community event called 4th Fridays that activates the neighborhood with discounts and food deals, live music, pop-up shops, and art. → More information
Want to kick up the romance a notch? Gondola Getaways has been offering romantic and relaxing cruises through the canals of Naples Island since 1982. We honestly can’t think of a more idyllic spot for a kiss in all of Long Beach than passing under a canal by gondola during sunset. BONUS: Ask your gondolier about their vocal training and abilities, because you won’t want to miss getting a little romantic serenade under canals (the acoustics are incredible!) → More information
Places to Eat
As in the previous section, we know your time would be limited if you’re staying for just a couple days, but we’ve curated a diverse list of eating options, from casual coffee spots to higher end dining, that you might want to try.
Fuego at The Maya
Fuego offers stunning, picturesque views of Downtown Long Beach and the Queen Mary. The Modern Latin restaurant serves a variety of antojos (appetizers) including a Spicy Lobster Guacamole, alongside fresh ceviche and dinner staples like a Gaucho New York Steak served with red chimichurri. We suggest making a reservation for either dinner to catch the glowing sunset or for Sunday brunch which includes a cocktail, an entree, endless food stations and a dessert bar for $45 a person. → More information
Chef Arthur Gonzalez’s Roe Seafood located in Belmont Shore serves sustainable seafood in a casual atmosphere. Diners will find seafood towers, sashimi, crab croquettes, swordfish “al pastro” and land options like a grass fed flat iron steak on the menu. Not to be outdone by the impressive food menu, Roe’s bar program offers guests Tiki inspired libations, sake, craft beers and a wide range of wines from Sonoma to Burgundy, France. We suggest having dinner at Roe or catching the happy hour specials that run 3 to 6 p.m. daily. → More information
George’s Greek Cafe
A favorite among locals, George’s is a family owned institution in Long Beach. Their happy hour is unbeatable with $2.50 small plates of dolmathes and falafel to $3.50 well drinks served everyday from 3 to 7 p.m. If you’re vacationing with a big group, this might be the best spot on this list, as the ambience is warm and inviting, and the portions are generous. There are three George’s locations in Long Beach and Lakewood, but if we had to choose we’d rank the Pine Ave location as the best. → More information
Located in the heart of Shoreline Village, Parker’s Lighthouse is a truly unique place to dine. The restaurant is situated inside a lighthouse and serves mesquite grilled seafood, sushi and land options like a “Garlic Cheese Bread” Burger. Wine lovers can checkout their two-story wine cellar and sip from the award winning wine list. We suggest going for lunch to enjoy the view or during their happy hour, Monday through Thursday 3 to 7 p.m., Friday 3 to 8 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday 7 to 9 p.m. → More information
Beer and barbecue go hand in hand and at Beachwood BBQ that’s exactly what you’ll get. Smoked ribs, pulled pork, brisket are all on the menu, along with 22 rotating beers on tap. Head in for lunch and stay late tasting special and hard to find beers. → More information
Opened since 1985, Cafe Piccolo has racked up a loyal following with their eclectic Italian menu and one-of-a-kind outdoor/indoor space. Considered one of the most romantic restaurants in Long Beach, Cafe Piccolo is best enjoyed in the evening where the dimly lit space is illuminated by a fire pit in the center of the room. On the menu you’ll find stuffed mushrooms, Chicken Piccata, Veal Florentine and linguini with clams. → More information
Located in Downtown Long Beach, Recreational Coffee offers elevated caffeinated drinks in an approachable atmosphere. On the menu guests will find lattes, curated pour over coffees and desert type drinks like a Chocolate Cappuccino. They also have a delicious variety of breakfast/lunch items where the bacon & egg sandwich with melted gouda and sriracha ketchup is an absolute must. We suggest saving room for a vegan donut from the award winning The Caffeinated Kitchen, a local small batch bakery dreaming up donut flavors like guava, churro and pecan praline. → More information
Portfolio Coffee on Retro Row is a quintessential coffee shop with great coffee, free WiFi and comfy armchairs. We suggest easing into the morning with a Mexican Chocolate Mocha or ice blended vanilla latte. Coffee beans are from illy, Intelligentsia and local roasters Heartbreak and Lord Windsor. This is also a good choice for a casual breakfast or lunch where you can find breakfast sandwiches, wraps and grilled paninis. → More information
While the above list features more than a dozen ways to explore and eat your way through the greater Downtown Long Beach area, we’re well aware we’re just scratching the surface of all of the possibilities. That said, remember that the Hotel Maya offers a wonderful destination to begin your DTLB adventure.