5 Places to Connect with Nature in Long Beach

While Long Beach is one of California’s largest cities, its urban setting is offset by its proximity to and incorporation of nature. Its location along the coast and ample green spaces provided by the city’s park system create numerous places to connect with nature throughout the city. Here are a few of our recommendations for immersing yourself in greenery, seeing wildlife, and getting inspired about our planet.


At the Colorado Lagoon (5119 E Colorado St), you can see examples of several important habitats, like salt marshes, dunes, sandy beaches, and coastal scrub, along with the native plants, wetlands birds, and other marine life that thrive there. Walk the path that leads from the Wetlands and Marine Science Education Center around the lagoon. Kids and families can enjoy the nearby playground and picnic tables. The lagoon is currently undergoing a project to reconnect it to the open ocean, but the park’s amenities are still accessible.


The channel between Long Beach and Catalina Island is one of a few places where people can easily spot the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth–the blue whale. In the summer months, blue whales are off our coast feeding on krill, and in the late fall and winter you can spot gray whales on their annual migration. Year round you can also see harbor seals, sea lions, and massive pods of dolphins in our local waters. Harbor Breeze Cruises (100 Aquarium Way, Dock #2) offers daily whale watching trips narrated by an Aquarium of the Pacific naturalist.


Unless you’re a scuba diver or snorkeler, you might not have many chances to see what lives beneath the ocean’s surface. But at the Aquarium of the Pacific (100 Aquarium Way), you can see thousands of creatures that live in the Pacific Ocean, from massive California sea lions to adorable tiny sea jellies. This up-close reminder of the beauty and diversity of our ocean will get you thinking about how to preserve and protect it. Read more about the Aquarium’s conservation work and how you can get involved at aquariumofpacific.org/conservation.


Studies have shown that time spent in nature has measurable benefits for humans. The Japanese practice of forest bathing is intended to harness these benefits, and you can experience it at the El Dorado Nature Center (7550 E Spring St), where the walking trails provide a calming and restorative way to see pine, oak, and sycamore trees, lakes, birds, squirrels, wildflowers, and native plants. Don’t miss the visitor center with interactive exhibits or the turtles sunbathing around the bridge at the trails’ entrance.


The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden (Earl Warren Dr) offers an experience of natural elements shaped by human design, with carefully planted and maintained Japanese maples, bonsai trees, and a burbling stream. Make a reservation to visit, then feed the koi fish in the pond, stroll the gently curving path through the garden, and take time to rest on a bench, feel the breeze, and perhaps meditate. The garden offers regular yoga, sound bathing, and art workshops for an even deeper nature experience.

About the Author
Claire Atkinson
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