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A Mom/Tween Getaway in Long Beach, California

By Holly Rosen Fink, GoGirlfriend Contributor

Kid-friendly fun on the California coast

When I unexpectedly got pregnant with my second child, I panicked. I had hardly enough time to adjust as a new mother of one, yet alone two. I also cried for my daughter. I needed more time alone with her. I had just left my job to do that and my plan had backfired. The day my son was born, she was a mere nineteen months old. She had not understood my growing belly nor was it truly possible to explain it to her. When my husband brought her to the hospital, she burst into tears upon first sight of her new brother.

Taking time out together

visiting Long Beach's Aquarium of the PacificEver since then, I’ve made it a priority to make her feel important by taking time out and traveling with just her. Besides, it's travel that reconnects me with parts of my pre-motherhood self. When I travel with my daughter, I’m able to plug into my wandering self while introducing her to new cultures, cuisines, languages and sites. We travel beautifully together and it gives us time to bond on an entirely different level away from our routine and daily obligations.

So when I was invited to spend a few days in Long Beach, California to cover family activities and attractions, and was then told I could bring one of my children, I jumped at the opportunity. For two days, the Fink girls would explore California. It was planned. Organized. We were ready to roll.

Long Beach, here we come

Long Beach is located along 5 ½ miles of beach, half way between Los Angeles and San Diego. It’s kind of a forgotten stop for many families, as they rush off to popular destinations such as Disneyland or Hollywood, but it’s one that needs to be noticed and visited. We found that the city offers great food, cultural diversity, waterfront dining and a slew of activities and attractions for families. We really under-estimated what was in store for us as we arrived, but it became apparent quite quickly.

Where we stayed in Long Beach

Hyatt Pike in Long Beach, CAThe Hyatt Pike is a stylish boutique getaway in the center of Long Beach. We stayed in a spacious, cozy suite with free Wi-Fi, Mac desktop computers, a flat screen TV and a big shower. The hotel has a gorgeous rooftop swimming pool with a great view, on-site dining and good service (at least what we experienced). Rooms are relatively inexpensive, too. The Hyatt Pike is located really close to Shoreline Village, the aquarium and great restaurants so we were able to walk a lot. We both liked our room so much that we couldn’t wait to get back to it at the end of a long day.

Exploring Long Beach’s sunshine & history

With the warm weather (compared to where we live in New York), we immediately shed our coats, donned sunglasses and sunscreen and set out for two days of pure fun. I gave my daughter one rule to follow on our short getaway and that was to have fun and nothing more, and truly, that is what we did. If I saw a look of boredom or disinterest on her face, we moved on.

a tour of the famous Queen MaryWe toured the Queen Mary, one of the world’s most luxurious ships to ever sail the Atlantic Ocean. On our historical tour of the ship, we had the most expressive tour guide on the ship. We topped off the day with high tea on the Queen Mary, an irresistible experience, sipping tea and munching on scones while looking out at the harbor. It was easy to imagine we were passengers on the ship at the turn of the century.

Experiencing Long Beach’s nautical side

We also spent ample time at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, home to more than 11,000 inhabitants of the Pacific Ocean representing some 500 different species. We looked at and sometimes touched stingrays, neon jellyfish, sea cucumbers, starfish and more.

touring Long Point's HarbourKeeping up with the nautical side of our trip, we went on a Harbor Breeze waterfront boat tour, a 45-minute ride around the harbor, offering magnificent views of the beautiful Long Beach skyline, California Sea Lions, the world-famous Queen Mary, seagulls, sea lions, a light house and a view of the Shoreline Village. My daughter and I quietly gawked at the views, snapped shots and watched the sea gulls chase us in the sky.

Shoreline Village is a collection of restaurants and souvenir shops on the water. We took a walk on the boardwalk and stared at the gorgeous sea and fishing boats.

It’s important to throw in adventures when you travel with kids, so we rented a surrey at Wheel Fun, located in Shoreline Village. It took us down the coastline, past sailboats, condos, other bikers and ultimately we both got a good amount of exercise – pushing the pedals on the surrey is hard work! We also rented gondolas and rode the waters of Naples Island, located near Belmont Shores, on Gondola Getaway. Our gondola driver was an engaging storyteller dressed in traditional Venetian garb. I recommend taking the tour with your kids during the day to capture the area’s beauty.

Experiencing Long Beach’s art & culture

exploring Long Beach on the WheelFunLong Beach is home to a number of impressive museums, including the Museum of Latin American Art (molaa), one of the only museums in the country to focus exclusively on the contemporary art of Mexico, Central and South American and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

By the end of our visit to Long Beach, my daughter and I were so content, clearly satiated with yummy food and happily fished out. We were ready to head to Los Angeles to continue our adventure.

Have you visited Long Beach, California? What did you enjoy most? Drop a comment below and let us know or connect with GoGirlfriend on Facebook or Twitter.

Disclosure: Holly’s trip was organized by Long Beach Convention & Visitors’ Bureau. All opinions are her own.

About Holly Rosen Fink

Holly Rosen Fink ~ @HollyChroniclesHolly Rosen Fink is a Marketing, Communications, Public Relations, Branding and Social Media expert with over 15 years’ experience increasing brand awareness and sales at leading publishing houses and media companies. She is the founder of theculturemom.com and is a current contributor to This Girl Travels, Ciao Bambino, Family Vacation Critic, The Broad Side, BlogHer and Women & Hollywood.

Last year she edited Come Closer: How Tourism is Shaping the Future of Nations and associate produced the off-off-Broadway hit The Best of Everything and the NYC production of Listen to Your Mother.

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