Long Beach Hidden Gems
Roller rinks that pop up in the middle of malls, art accessed by pushing through a door darkly, and secret gardens – Long Beach is home to a lot of great places off the beaten path. The kind of places you have to know where you’re going. Allow us to shine a light on these hidden gems paired with some dining and drinking options that are equally out of sight.
Thanks to its star turn in the movie “La La Land,” Blind Donkey (149 Linden Ave.) is well known but not easily seen—it’s down a staircase under the Broadlind Hotel in the East Village Arts District. For a Prohibition Era experience, The Exhibition Room is located in the back of Roxanne’s Bar (1115 E. Wardlow Rd.) in the California Heights neighborhood. Access the speakeasy through a retro phone booth using a password obtained with reservations. If you yearn for a tiki paradise, find Secret Island by descending a flight of stairs under Shannon’s on Pine (209 Pine Ave.).
Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
Located on the bustling campus of Cal State Long Beach, this quiet oasis remains unknown to many who rush by its wooden doors. Buffered by trees, the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden (Earl Warren Dr.) revolves around a koi pond fed by small waterfalls. Though the garden is small, it offers a number of nooks allowing visitors the headspace to observe, meditate or simply catch their breath. Since the garden is sometimes closed when hosting campus events and weddings, it is strongly suggested you check-in online.
Dark Art Emporium
Perhaps the most unusual art collection in the city, Dark Art Emporium inhabits a most unique space accessible through a door at the back of The 4th Horseman (121 W. Fourth St.) pizza restaurant. Once inside you’ll see an eclectic and ever-evolving mix of fine art and oddities, from surrealism to contemporary in the way of paintings, sculpture, human skulls and taxidermy. The emporium is dedicated to showcasing artists and creators that often are ignored or challenge people’s perception of art.
Serving craft cocktails, beer and wine, tapas, and other shareable plates–short rib fries, roasted cauliflower tacos, flatbreads–Risü (207 E Seaside Way, Suite A) is located on the Rainbow Bridge between the Long Beach Terrace Theater and Convention Center. Stop by for happy hour to enjoy half-off appetizers and drink deals and bask in the nighttime glow of the bridge’s multi-colored lights. The outdoor dining patio is dog friendly and hosts live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings.
BEACH GARDEN SOCIAL HOUSE
Beach Garden Social House (1923 E Broadway) has a highly visible location on the corner of Broadway and Cherry Avenue, but the open air dining area is walled in like the storied Secret Garden, keeping the fun inside from view. Serving Latin-inspired dishes, from empanadas to esquite corn, Beach Garden Social also hosts a daily happy hour, Tacofest on Tuesdays, Trivia Night on Wednesdays, and an Open Mic Night on Thursdays. Bottomless Brunch is offered on weekends with a drag show on Saturdays (online reservations required).
Pigeon's Roller Rink
Pigeon’s Roller Skate Shop on Fourth Street has long been a hub for Long Beach’s considerable and enthusiastic roller skating community. Owner Shayna “Pigeon” Meikle has expanded to Pigeon’s Roller Rink, located in the 2ND & PCH retail center (6400 Pacific Coast Hwy). From the outside, it looks like just another fashionable boutique, but behind the stylish wooden slats lies a sizable skating rink offering daily open skate sessions, lessons, and themed music nights—jazz to disco to ‘80s hair band—even sessions for those who like skating in their pajamas.