With average, yearly temperatures ranging from high 60s to low 80s and just 20 days of average rainfall, the weather is always right to get outdoors in Long Beach. Enjoy our historic ranchos with live animals and scenic gardens, take a ride in a swan boat at Rainbow Lagoon, go on an adventure at El Dorado Frontier, hike through a nature center and more!
El Dorado Park
The sprawling El Dorado Park is a 100-acre oasis containing six lakes as well as tennis courts and more than four miles of paved bike trails. Not enough? OK, check out the par 72 golf course or try your hand at archery at the site that hosted the 1984 Olympic competition for that sport! There’s even a competitive tennis center. The most recent addition to all of this is El Dorado Frontier, an absolute jewel of an amusement park. The brainchild/passion project of Patricio Wolovich, who pretty much designed and built the thing himself, the five acres contains a vintage train, a carousel built from scratch, car rides, a “gold” panning station, a puppet theater and picnic areas. Learn more about El Dorado Park by visiting its web pages through the City of Long Beach:
El Dorado Nature Center
Located at the easternmost tip of El Dorado Park, the Nature Center is a 105-acre sanctuary chocked full of fauna, trees, trails, lakes, streams and animals. The bridge you cross to enter the center forges a small pond full of small turtles that tends to tantalize kids – parents, be prepared to linger. Though it borders a freeway, it is amazing how quickly the center allows you to escape the urban din while re-regulating yourself to nature’s rhythms. There’s a visitor center containing educational displays as well as an art gallery.
Rainbow Lagoon Swan Boats
A relatively recent addition to Long Beach’s outdoor attractions, the swan boats run by Wheel Fun Rentals come in two sizes – a small one for couples and a larger one for families – and are propelled via pedals. That means you can be charmed and get in your cardio at the same time! While any time is great to go for a spin, you might try this at night, when the boats are lit up, giving them an other-worldly air. Once you’ve finished “Swanning,” walk across the street to Shoreline Village, a seaside collection of restaurants, activities (harbor tours, parasailing) and shops, including a full-time Lego operation. You may just want to stroll the area or you may just find yourself walking into the Aquarium of the Pacific. There’s a lot to do.
Rancho Los Alamitos
These 7.5 acres of Rancho Los Alamitos are the remaining gem of what once encompassed more than 300,000 acres. The estate’s early 19th-century adobe house still stands, surrounded by its historic gardens designed by, among others, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, twice. As you might expect, the Rancho is a common destination for local school field trips, its collection of farm animals – horses, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and rabbits – making it a popular destination. And the Rancho’s gorgeous gardens, including stunning Cottonwood trees, are a welcome sight to anyone of any age.
Rancho Los Cerritos
Such is Long Beach’s bounty that it has not one, but TWO historic and beautiful ranchos. Rancho Los Cerritos features a main house dating to 1844, which has since been converted to a public museum with a 3,000-volume California research library. There is also a swath of gardens that include California native plants, fruit trees and medicinal and other herbs. Probably the most stunning natural feature of the rancho are two trees: an Italian Cypress planted when the house was originally built in the mid-19th century and a Moreton Bay Fig planted in the late-1800s. The fig is, in fact, two trees that grew together, and its eye-catching root system and dramatic canopy make it a popular spot for photos as well as backdrop for wedding receptions.
One of the most popular places for young families, especially in the summer, Colorado Lagoon has pretty much everything a young family could want. Kids need to cool down? They can splash about in the lagoon. Wanna play? There’s a playground for that. Looking for snacks? There’s always a food or ice cream truck nearby. If you want to save a little money, bring your own food and eat it at the provided picnic area complete with turf, because who wants sand in their potato salad? There are restrooms and a good deal of parking, and during the summer there is even a model boat shop where kids can not only build their own model boats but race them on Fridays, too. And just across the street is one of the best neighborhood eateries in the city, Ubuntu Cafe, where you can grab a lavender latte, chocolate croissant or strawberry ricotta toast. Yum.