#OnlyinLB: Gondola Getaway

Imagine savoring a delicious Chianti and locally made pasta while your gondola glides through a romantic canal. You raise your glass to toast your amore while your gondolier serenades you with an a capella rendition of “O Sole Mio.” You don’t have to fly to Europe for this fairly tale of an Italian evening—you can find it right here in Long Beach with Gondola Getaway.


Gondola Getaway (5437 E Ocean Blvd) was founded by Michael O’Toole in 1982. He was inspired to carry on a tradition that dates back to the early 1900s, when a developer built up the marshland to create Naples’ three islands and people cruised the canals in Italian-style gondolas. O’Toole has continually nurtured the connection between Long Beach and Venice, Italy. For decades Gondola Getaway has sent a delegation of its gondoliers to Venice, one of Long Beach’s Sister Cities, to immerse themselves in Venetian culture and participate in the prestigious Vogalonga regatta.


Departing from their location at the base of the Alamitos Peninsula that separates Naples from the ocean, Gondola Getaway offers two regular 50-minute cruises. Their Traditional Gondola Cruise for up to 6 passengers includes a free photo, free ice bucket and cups, and free corkage. You can bring any food or drinks you like, or add the appetizer option to your cruise for traditional Italian antipasti served on board. The Large “Carolina” Cruise, navigated by two gondoliers, can carry up to 14 passengers and includes all the same perks. Reservations are available online or by phone at 562-433-9595.


For a special occasion, or just for fun, why not book a Pasta and Pizza Cruise this summer? Bring your crew of 8 to 14 people for a cruise in the large “Carolina” gondola, with a long table running down the center. Select a menu of pizza, pasta, or both provided by legendary local restaurant Domenico’s, and bring your own beverages with free corkage.


Gondola Getaway offers several extras you can add on to your cruise, including a bouquet of roses or their “Message in a Bottle” service, perfect for proposals. For an added fee, the company will print your special message on parchment and seal it in a bottle with seashells. During your cruise, your gondolier will discover the bottle and steer the vessel so that your passenger can retrieve it. With the Ultimate Proposal Package, a chaser boat will capture the moment on camera with a professional photographer or videographer. Then later, you can even host your wedding on a fleet of gondolas carrying up to 70 guests!

Credit: Elegant Photography
About the Author
Claire Atkinson