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rjw_lgb_ca Feb 25th, 2004 10:18 AM

Long Beach CA Info for kimamom
Looks like the website munched your original post-- I responded to it and the whole thing disappeared!! Here's a quick rundown....

-- Best hotels in Long Beach are in downtown. The Hyatt, the Renaissance and the Westin are all centrally-located to downtown LB attractions: the Pike entertainment complex, Aquarium of the Pacific, Shoreline Village, Pine Avenue restaurants. Shopping downtown is not great, frankly, so nothing to recommend in that department. The Queen Mary is dry-docked near downtown, and is also worth a visit. The LB terminal for Catalina Express is next to the QM. Don't bother snorkeling or boogie-boarding in LB's breakwater-crippled waters; if you can stand the cold Pacific, do it in Catalina or even Huntington Beach (BRING WETSUITS).

-- The swim meet will probably be at the Belmont Pool complex in Belmont Shore-- about three or four miles due east of downtown LB. No good hotels in that neighborhood, but there are acceptable hotels/motor inns by Long Beach Airport (Marriott, Holiday Inn) and on PCH (Best Western, Guesthouse). Lots of great restaurants in Belmont Shore on Second Street, with some fun shopping and a locals-only vibe. LB doesn't get tourists as a general rule; in Belmont Shore on a Saturday night you'll be mingling with citizens from LB, Cal State LB students and people driving up from the OC lured by the great eateries.

Make sure you have a car. Quick jaunts down the coast into OC can be fun (Laguna Beach is a treasure). If you want to see Rodeo Drive indoors, check out South Coast Plaza (if you've been to Miami Beach, think Bal Harbour Shops completely enclosed in two large buildings). Disneyland is 20 minutes away, as is Knott's Berry Farm. Then there's LA....

kimamom Feb 25th, 2004 10:23 AM

Thanks! How far is Laguna Beach or Newport from Long Beach? I wish there were some nice hotels in the area. Any Four Seasons or Fairmonts? Any specific great places to eat in Long Beach? Thanks, Kim Isn't there a place to stay on the Queen Mary?

rjw_lgb_ca Feb 25th, 2004 10:23 AM

Oh, and something else I mentioned: Long Beach is decidedly NOT super-glitzy and high-class and trendy. It's pretty middle-class. Those of us who live in LB enjoy a lower cost of living than in LA or San Diego, a true town spirit and a diverse citizenry. There are some well-publicized and persistent problems with crime and gangs in the poorer north parts of LB (adjacent to south-central LA or Compton), but a lot of very subtle money as well. It's not a tourist mecca like Santa Monica, and most of us are just fine with that....

rjw_lgb_ca Feb 25th, 2004 10:37 AM

Closest Fairmont I know of would be the Miramar up in Santa Monica (a block from where I work)-- a wonderful property. But you're looking at a 30-mile commute to LB-- 40 minutes with no traffic, at least an hour with.

The closest Four Seasons is in Newport Beach, about 30 minutes away in Newport Center. A very nice property, however.

The Queen Mary has been turned into a hotel, that's right. A recent review by the "LA Times" noted it was nostalgic and nice, but it's showing its age (restrooms could use some light refurbishing). Two great restaurants on the QM: Sir Winston's (old-school-- jackets for men) and Chelsea's.

Other great places to eat in LB:

Downtown: Alegría (Spanish), L'Opera (very pricey Italian), the Madison (very pricey steaks), 555 East (pricey steaks), Pine Avenue Fish House (guess what!), Parker Lighthouse (good seafood, great views), Tequila Jack's (pretty yummy Mexican). Also Islands (burger chain), P.F. Chang (Asian cuisine chain).

Belmont Heights/Belmont Shore: Christy's (superb Italian-- run by Sonny Bono's oldest daughter Christy), Nico's (Continental, run by Christy Bono's ex-husband-- they're good friends), Lucille's (Memphis-style BBQ-- awesome local chain), Malvasia (Mediterranean), Shenandoah Café (American-- wonderful food), Lasher's (American food, served in a converted Craftsman bungalow-- excellent). Also Rubio's Baja Grill (fast-food Mexican, but excellent-- fish tacos!!), Baja Fresh (fast-food Mexican-- also great), SuperMex (LB chainlet, huge portions of Mexican grub, very wonderful).

Gardyloo Feb 25th, 2004 10:37 AM

RJW: Shhh.

kimamom Feb 25th, 2004 11:08 AM

Thanks! It sounds like we won't go hungry, anyway! We will bring our wetsuits for the ocean swimming. ***kim***:)

rjw_lgb_ca Feb 25th, 2004 12:22 PM

I didn't answer your question about driving time, kimamom, so here goes....

The nicest way to get from Long Beach to the shoreline communities of Orange County is down Pacific Coast Highway. It's also the no-hurry way to go. Some very, very nice views along the way (especially just north of Laguna Beach) make it worth the extra time:

LB to Huntington Beach: 20 minutes
LB to Newport Beach: 25-30 minutes
LB to Laguna Beach: 40-50 minutes

You can shave minutes off the trip by hopping I-405, but you then have to schlepp south to get to PCH to get anywhere nice, so you really don't save a lot of time.

I plumb forgot about the In-'n'-Out at Second Street and PCH in Long Beach! If you need that Double Double fix while you're in town, that's the closest to the pool. A little farther away (Los Coyotes Diagonal at Ximeno) we have another. Just another reason to stay in LB: *2* In-'n'-Out's close to my condo!! ;) *burp*

Iregeo Feb 25th, 2004 12:26 PM

rjw, slightly off topic, but which is the restaurant in Long Beach (I think steaks) in the old bank building? I recall loving the space, but don't recall the name. Thanks!

rjw_lgb_ca Feb 25th, 2004 12:34 PM

Iregeo: That's the Madison, in the old Security Pacific building. L'Opera, in the Bank of America building across the street, and Alegría (up Pine a few doors) are owned by the same people as the Madison. That *is* a gorgeous room, isn't it? And when the cooks are really clicking, the food matches the décor!!

Iregeo Feb 25th, 2004 01:14 PM

Thanks, rjw, that's it. If/when you get to L.A., try, if you haven't already, Cicada (downtown). Great food, beautiful presentation, in a gorgeous, converted, old, haberdashery building.

Sorry for the digression. Back to the original topic!

jd Feb 25th, 2004 01:25 PM

rjw-can you go PCH all the way from Hermosa Beach to Huntington Beach, and if so, are you saying this is the best way to go?I wasn't sure if PCH was easy to navigate in the Palos Verdes/San Pedro area.Thanks.

rjw_lgb_ca Feb 25th, 2004 01:38 PM

jd: You can technically drive PCH all the way from Hermosa into OC (until Torrance it's considered Sepulveda Blvd). The issue is the ickiness of the areas you have to drive through south of Palos Verdes: Carson, Wilmington, Lomita, West Long Beach. These are grim parts of southern CA, industrial and rough. You drive through with windows up, as quickly as possible.

PCH south of the OC line quickly gets prettier as it wanders closer to the shore. BTW, Seal Beach is just over the Orange Curtain and has a sweet seaside area on its Main Street (and one of my favorite restaurants in OC, the always-packed Walt's Wharf). Might be worth a visit.

jd Feb 25th, 2004 01:49 PM

rjw-I don't think I want to drive through the areas you described-I better stick with 405. I think we will get off and try to find that restaurant in Seal Beach for a late lunch on the way down. Thanks.

rjw_lgb_ca Feb 25th, 2004 02:02 PM

jd: Hmmmm.... Let me try to get you there. The route I'm going to recommend is the clearest (Yahoo! Maps just gave me bizarre directions).

You'll be taking I-405 southbound; take the Seal Beach Blvd exit. Follow Seal Beach all the way to Pacific Coast Highway, then take a right on PCH, heading north; follow this until Main, where you'll turn left. Walt's Wharf is at 201 Main (at Central). Try the caramelized salmon. Yum!!

jd Feb 25th, 2004 02:09 PM

Thanks rjw-sounds like just what we need after a long flight from the East coast-and it seems like it is on the way to our hotel. Can't wait to get there.

rjw_lgb_ca Feb 25th, 2004 02:16 PM

jd: Yep, it is. You're heading down to Huntington-- from the restaurant, just turn right on PCH and follow down another 10-15 minutes. You'll drive through quirky Sunset Beach (shotgun beach houses) and some semi-industrial parts (including some military areas), then right into Huntington Beach. Hopefully the surf will be good so you can watch the surfers!

kimamom Feb 25th, 2004 02:49 PM

Thanks for all the info! The Four Seasons in Newport sounds like it may work as a home base for us. Any great places you could recommend to eat in Newport Beach?

My son spent many summers there with a friend and his family, but they rented a home on the beach, so they did most of the cooking at the house. Thanks!! ***kim*** :)

rjw_lgb_ca Feb 25th, 2004 03:01 PM

Hmmm.... I don't know much at all about Newport Beach eateries (I've always passed through on the way to Laguna). The restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton is supposed to be pretty good, but other than that, I'm clueless. Anyone else...?

kimamom Feb 25th, 2004 05:37 PM

What's good in Huntington Beach as far as lodging, restaurants, etc.? Would you recommend HB over Newport?

Our youth pastor moved to HB a couple of years ago and loves it there! Thanks! ***kim*** Which place has the best beaches?

jd Feb 26th, 2004 02:36 AM

Kim-we are staying in Huntington Beach at the Hyatt H.B. We only chose here because we want to be as close to LA (relatives there)as possible and be in the HB/Newport/Laguna area. The Hyatt seems nice, but from what I've read,the Laguna area is more desirable.

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