Long Beach Harbor, on the southern edge of downtown Long Beach, offers an array of activities: You can visit the Aquarium of the Pacific
, take a bay cruise or an overnight excursion to Catalina Island (a one-hour boat ride), stroll paved trails, fish from two piers at Shoreline Park, or shop at Shoreline Village–and when it’s time to eat, a variety of dining options should suit most any palate. You can pick up maps at the small visitor information kiosk near the transit hub on Aquarium Way, but excellent signage throughout the area will also help to guide you. If possible, plan to visit during the week--especially in summer, when weekends can be extremely crowded.
The Aquarium of the Pacific has wondrously large tanks and exhibits representing three different regions of the Pacific: southern California and Baja, the tropical Pacific, and the subarctic waters of Russia and northern Japan. The aquarium features 11,000 animals in more than 50 exhibits, as well as multimedia presentations, an aviary, and a wheelchair-accessible playground with a replica of a whale’s skeleton. There is excellent access throughout.
For a break from the activity at the harbor, step across West Shoreline Drive from the aquarium to Rainbow Lagoon, a small man-made lagoon encircled by a paved path. Several bridges cross over the lagoon but are quite steep, and I didn't attempt it in my motorized wheelchair. Continue down South Pine Avenue to the pedestrian-friendly downtown. To reach the Pike at Rainbow Harbor, a dining and entertainment district, look for an elevator by the Bubba Gump restaurant that will take you to a bridge that crosses West Shoreline Drive.
Shoreline Village, on Golden Shore near Shoreline Park, and at the parking structure on Aquarium Way
At Pierpoint Landing (the accessible stall has no door), Shoreline Park, Shoreline Village (next to the surrey rentals), and in a portable trailer by the traffic circle at Aquarium Way
Other Things of Interest
When she was launched in 1936, the Queen Mary
was the largest luxury liner in the world. On her maiden voyage she carried 2,000 passengers and 1,200 crew members across the Atlantic in less than four days. During World War II she was stripped of her lavish décor and transformed into a troop ship; after the war she resumed passenger service. In 1967 she was moved to Long Beach Harbor, where she is now a hotel, restaurant, and tourist attraction. Much of her Art Deco magnificence has been preserved. Wheelchair access is limited, with large portions of the ship simply unreachable, but she’s still well worth a visit. The accessible entrance is at the hotel, at the opposite end from the ship's main entrance. From the hotel lobby, take the elevator to the Promenade Deck, where you can stop at the information counter for a map or to purchase a tour––we found the "Behind the Scenes" tour enthralling. Fortunately, the main exhibits are on the Promenade level, so there’s much to see even if you don’t take a tour. The hotel has accessible guestrooms.