After a long day at work, it is comforting to know there is a place we can kick back and enjoy a drink and some light fare while looking out at the sites on Long Beach Harbor. Restaurants and bars line the harbor particularly along Second Street near Pacific Coast Highway, an area that has evolved into a must-see destination for fun eating and dining.
Hopefully, before you sit down to relax with that margarita next to the water, you will first have enjoyed some of the cultural and educational sites surrounding the harbor. The Aquarium of the Pacific features a wide variety of California ocean life, plus samples of tropical sea life as well. In the Tropical Pacific Gallery, you will experience a close encounter with the oceanic wildlife of the South Pacific island of Palau, observing sea turtles, zebra sharks, porcupine puffer fish and other enthralling, venomous creatures.
The historic ship Queen Mary is another venue you will want to visit. Entry to the ship is free, although you can opt for a guided tour to get more out of your visit. Themes include the Queen Mary Passport with Steam and Steel Tour, Queen Mary Passport with Glory Days Tour, and even a Paranormal Ship Walk Tour!
After a long day of fun in Long Beach Harbor, you can enjoy dining at any one of several fine restaurants overlooking the harbor, particularly around the vicinity of Marina Drive at the southeast corner of Long Beach. One local favorite is Schooner or Later, which features a casual outdoor setting where you can sip a cocktail and enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a short-order plate such as fish and chips or a burger and fries, and either a beer or a glass of wine.
Schooner or Later has seating both indoors and out on deck, where you can share lively conversation as yachts come and go, meandering through the marina. Whether you desire a fine California wine or a craft beer, this gem of a restaurant can meet your culinary needs and tastes in a fun, scenic setting.
Another highly rated eatery is the Boathouse on the Bay, listed No. 1 on the Yelp list of Long Beach restaurants. This delightful restaurant offers a panoply of Japanese-inspired California treats, such as tuna rolls, shrimp with noodles, seared fish and other tasty seafood dishes. As you entice your palate with awesome eats, sip a fruity cocktail while looking out at the water and yacht marina from the outdoor deck.
On most evenings, you can sit back at the Boathouse and listen to live guest musicians play a variety of folk, Latin and light rock while you enjoy your cocktail and dinner. Matt Sky, Hugo Fernandes, Katie Ferrara and Adam Lasher are just some of the local guitarists and singers you will enjoy as boats ply the water in the background.
If you are in the mood for a light lunch, sample the menu of gourmet fast food at Saltwater Deck, just off Ocean Boulevard – right on the sand! The quirky beach setting has helped this gem of a restaurant distinguish itself as a unique meeting place for boaters, cyclists and families coming back from playing in the water.
Featured recently on KTLA 5 News, Saltwater Deck lives up to its motto, “We don’t make fast food; we make great food as fast as we can.” Menu items include their classic burrito, a grass-fed cheeseburger with chips and purple coleslaw, pastrami breakfast sandwich, burgers, quesadillas, their “Italiano” sandwich with salami and mortadella and more – each for under $18.
Tucked into a quiet corner of a canal near Second Street is the Asian-themed restaurant Jade on the Water, which brings culinary fantasy to life in a wide range of mouth-watering house specialties. Jade’s menu features an Asian fusion selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes.
For breakfast, consider starting with Hawaiian French toast made with sweet Hawaiian bread, fresh bananas and whipped cream, dusted with macadamia nuts. For dinner, you can choose from a long list of starters including mixed tempura, calamari strips and vegetarian egg rolls. For the main course, the long list of choices include Mongolian beef, honey walnut shrimp, orange miso salmon, salt and pepper crispy beef and more. Dinner at Jade’s often includes live entertainment with jazz, rock and folk musicians creating a warm atmosphere.
As you look out across the harbor from some of these dining venues, you will observe a popular mode of travel to these fun places. Why not bring your own boat with a group of friends, drop anchor near your favorite bar or restaurant and turn your night into a little adventure?
Cruising through Long Beach Harbor on your own boat naturally opens up greater opportunities for enjoyment than if arriving by land. You can find free anchorage space near the southern end of the harbor at Oil Island White, which is protected from the open ocean by an outer jetty surrounding San Pedro Bay.
Anchor a safe distance from the man-made island, using your chartplotter or paper chart as a guide to varying depths around these structures. You will find the late afternoon winds to be much calmer than the wind at the opposite end of the bay at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.
Whether by foot, bicycle, auto or boat, there is boundless fun and tantalizing restaurant menus waiting for you in Long Beach Harbor. Plan your day or weekend well, and enjoy one of the greatest, most fun locations on the West Coast!