Trailering Magazine Archives - Destinations
California's Long Beach
Where the beach is long and the lines are short…
Californias fifth-largest city has spent the past twenty years working on its image. Situated between the glitter of Los Angeles 22 miles to the north and the famous house of the mouse in Anaheim 17 miles to the south, Long Beach was just another place on the ocean.
It has the second-busiest deepwater port in the country. It is home to a famous ocean liner. It has the largest municipally owned harbor in the United States (3400 slips) and modern aquarium with 12,000 ocean creatures. And it has lots of beaches…51/2 miles of beaches…long beaches.
Long Beach is trailer boat-friendly too. The huge harbor has a southern exposure and is protected by numerous breakwaters. While launch ramps are always in use and trailer boats are frequently seen past the Queen's Gate channel that opens up into the Pacific (it is the passage between the two outermost breakwaters), it is important to maintain a lookout for a multitude of container ships and commercial ferries. Last year, 28 container ships on average entered or departed the Port of Long Beach. Add to this the Catalina Express shuttle running every hour to Catalina Island 22 miles offshore and the "Aquabus" transporting passengers from the Aquarium and Shoreline Village shopping center across the water to the Queen Mary and it becomes obvious why a constant watch is required in the harbor area. Next to the pier where the Queen Mary is moored, Carnival Cruise Lines is building a $40 million terminal complete with a parking garage for passengers taking a cruise along the Pacific Coast. Yes, this is a bustling place to be.
The Queen Mary came to Long Beach in 1967 after making more than a thousand crossings of the Atlantic Ocean between England and New York. Today it is a 365-room hotel offering a variety of rooms from the First Class cabin occupied by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to inside cabins with no view of the water whatsoever. During World War II this luxury ocean liner was painted gray and pressed into service as a troop carrier bringing more than 800-thousand soldiers to Europe. Hitler wanted the Queen Mary sunk and offered $250-thousand to anyone who could get the job done. They didn't and the renovated ship is found on Pier J, available not just for a good rest, but tours and dining as well.
Moored just in front of the Queen Mary is the Scorpion, a Russian submarine that was commissioned into service a year after the ocean liner arrived in Long Beach. Tours are available on this piece of history too.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is just that, a huge living museum with sealife found only in the Pacific Ocean. Depending on the time of year, 20% of the exhibits can be viewed outside. It covers more than 120,000 square feet, spans more than three football fields and features 550 species of marine creatures. The most recent exhibit centers upon the many kinds of jellyfish and how each is able to stay alive in an environment that isn't always friendly. You will recognize the aquarium right away. Its roof with sloping crests was designed to look like breaking pacific waves.
There's another piece of history to be seen as you walk along Ocean Boulevard, which parallels the five-plus miles of beach as well as a bike path next to the water. At 3065 Ocean Boulevard you'll see a private home called "Weathering Heights." This is where W.C. Fields lived during his filmmaking career. A few blocks away in the North Pine District (3rd St-10th St.), more Victorian homes can be seen dating from the early 1900's.
Boaters who visit Long Beach between December and April should consider taking a day and going out into the Pacific to see the migrating gray whales as they head south to warmer Mexican waters from the Berring Sea. While migration routes are usually just a few miles offshore, this is not a journey for the trailer boater with a sense of adventure. As the locals will tell you, the Pacific Ocean can be moody and you don't want to be in the wrong kind of boat if its mood should suddenly become threatening. A variety of tour boats make the trip every day. During the summer, the gray whales move north after breeding in the warmer waters off the Baja Peninsula.
There are, however, some great fishing areas near the boat launches but keep an eye and an ear toward weather before making the trip. From the Channel entrance at Alamitos Bay, it is (all miles are approximate) 7 miles to Huntington Flats, 22 miles to the 14-Mile Bank and 6.5 miles to Horseshoe Kelp, fondly called 'the shoe" by local anglers. If the ocean isn't conducive to launching, the Belmont Pier at Ocean and 39th Place has free public fishing. As long as you stay on the Pier, no license is required. There is another public fishing area beyond the Queen Mary near Harbor Scenic Way and the Port of Long Beach.
One other must-see Long Beach attraction is Naples Island in Alamitos Bay. This is a terrific area for trailer boats to explore because there are protected canals around which are built some spectacular homes. In the late afternoon, gondoleers take to the water with authentic watercraft from Venice. If you are up for it, the cost is $55/couple for an hour.
The boat that is pulled to Long Beach isn't going to be used as the main source of recreation or entertainment. After all, there are many sights to see that can be done without the use of a launch ramp. But when you are ready to explore this busy harbor and the Pacific just beyond, Long Beach offers a variety of quality places from which to begin.
Long Beach Area Boat Ramps:
*Granada Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. Jet skis and sailboards only. This ramp is located on the beach and speed must be no more than 5 miles-per-hour within the launch corridor. The cost is $5 and you need a $5 bill to operate the gate.
*Marine Stadium. Located in Alamitos Bay, the Marine Stadium has a $6 launch fee and six lanes with 90 parking spaces. If you intend to pull a skier, all boats in the immediate area must travel in a counter-clockwise direction and have an observer. If a skier goes into the water, a red flag is to be flown. Marine Stadium has a huge rowing center built for the 1932 Olympics. Once out of the stadium area, the counter clockwise rule is no longer in effect.
Claremont Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. Sailboats only. The fee is $5 and hours are 8AM to sunset.
Davies Ramp. This ramp is located across from the Marine Stadium under the 2nd Street Bridge at Marina Drive. It is open 24 hours/day and has 4 lanes from which a boat can be launched. There are 156 parking spaces. The cost is $6. Boaters wishing to leave their vehicles and trailer in the launch parking lot longer than one day must come to the Alamitos Bay office and pay in advance. You will be given a parking pass for your vehicle. Side ties are also available for 50 cents per foot per night. This ramp is closest to the Long Beach Marina.
South Shore Launch Ramp
This is located in the park next to the Queen Mary.
For More Information…
Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau 800-4LB-STAY
Aquarium of the Pacific
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