Situated at the border of Los Angeles and Orange County is the eclectic city of Long Beach. This city is so full of life with its non stop shipping port, visitor attractions, seaport villages, water activities, and piers.
I find this town very appealing even though I know it has its downfalls and not so lovely parts. However, this can be the case with many cities.
There is so much to see in the Long Beach Harbor area, so that is where my trusty sedan takes me every time I am in the area.
There is nothing like cruising down Shoreline Drive where you catch glimpses of the historical ship Queen Mary as it sits idly across the bay. You’ll also pass by the refurbished ‘Pike’ area with its many stores and restaurants available to satisfy any tourist or visitor.
One building you can’t miss happens to be one of the most iconic sites in Long Beach, the convention center. This huge circular structure is made even more unique as every inch of it is painted with giant whales and ocean scenes courtesy of the renowned artist, Wyland.
However, we weren’t traveling in that area today as we were headed to the south end of Long Beach on one of our exploratory Sunday drives. We were driving to the Long Beach Peninsula.
This peninsula has the beautiful Alamitos Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. A man-made breakwater keeps the waves from reaching the shore, so don’t expect to be doing any surfing. On most days the water is calm, but the area can get very windy which bodes well for a different kind of sport.
As you make your way towards the coast from Second Avenue you are greeted at the entrance of the peninsula. Here you get your first glimpse of the thrill seekers who take advantage of the aforementioned windy conditions…kite surfers. Dozens of colorful kites fly through the air with their passengers attached to surfboards and hanging on for dear life. They make it look easy although there is no way it is.
There is an area where they give lessons and I briefly thought that it might be fun, but only briefly. I don’t think I am strong enough and sadly for me, it looks like a sport far from my physical capabilities.
However, it is enjoyable sitting there watching the collage of color streaking across the sky. Every now and again a high speed rider catches a gust of wind which propels them far up into the air. Yeah, I think lessons would be a waste of money for me.
Where Dogs Run Free:
You could watch for hours but we had a furry friend with us that was anxious to visit the nearby Rosie’s Dog Beach. About a mile from the Kite surfing area sits this crowded beach filled with both humans and canines alike. There is a large parking lot and I always managed to find a spot even on a summer day.
There are human bathrooms nearby and the dogs go…well in the sand. There are bags situated around for this and everyone is very responsible about picking up after their dogs mess.
As with the kite surfing area, there is plenty of sandy beach and it takes time to get from the parking lot to the water’s edge. Every color, shape, and size of dog can be seen roaming around with a few making occasional visits to your pup as Rosie’s beach is leash free.
With no waves or ocean movement, the shore isn’t exactly Caribbean or Hawaiian quality. Don’t expect to swim in a crystal clear blue sea, but, the dogs didn’t seem to mind as they frolicked in the water as if they were in heaven.
More Beach: With a tired pooch in tow, we now headed south into the peninsula towards the south end. On the east side, beautiful homes line the bayside with small sandy areas directly out front. The same on the west side although their backyard beach extends way further as it makes its way to the shore. This is not a crowded area so you can walk for miles without seeing many people.
At the beginning of the peninsula there is a boat rental dock where you can also hire a gondola to take you through the Naples canals. This is another reason why I like this area; you must visit the canals during the Christmas Holidays. See this story on the canals.
At one point we parked right in the middle of the peninsula to put our toes in the sand and set eyes on the ocean. I was a little disappointed when I made it to water’s edge and saw a distinct line of left over plastic and bottle caps strewn around. I am hoping that it is because we just had a storm and that it wasn’t like that on a normal basis.
At the very end of the peninsula, two separated jetties designate the entrance to the harbor. A public parking lot allows you to get out and enjoy the activity of the boats flowing in and out of the bay.
Across the waterway, the Ballast Point restaurant has a perfect location for its patrons to sit with a full water view. You can also stretch your legs and walk along the jetty or throw out your poles to fish.
Homeward Bound As with any Sunday drive, it isn’t meant to last forever, and it was time to leave. We saw plenty of eye candy for one day and we definitely relaxed for a bit. I got some beach combing in, we all saw some great sites, and our pooch was able to meet new friends.
It scores at least a solid nine for a Sunday drive and would have probably gained a ten if we were able to enjoy a meal along the trendy Second Avenue area. Sadly, Covid 19 shut them down for a few weeks.
That will have to be for another time and believe me, there will be one.
Story and photos: Debbie Colwell