Long Beach is a pretty town near Los Angeles. It has a massive port and some nice areas in its downtown along with some big hotels. If you don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on hotels it is a good place to stay while in LA. There is a direct connection by train into downtown Los Angeles and if you don’t feel like big city you can easily spend a weekend here too.
The main arteries in Long Beach are Pine Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. My hotel, the Renaissance Long Beach was on the latter. The room had nice views (to the right) and the hotel had a rooftop swimming pool as well. Most of the restaurants and bars are near the hotel on Pine Avenue and I went there on my first night for a local pint. The local beer was so bitter I couldn’t actually finish it!
After the drink I walked up and down on Ocean Boulevard and then went to the seafront. The city has developed this area very well and there are now plenty of restaurants to enjoy a seaside lunch or dinner. By this time it was nearly midnight and I was very tired so I went back to the hotel to sleep.
The Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Long Beach
I stayed at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Long Beach for four nights. The hotel was pretty amazing, with nice views over the main street. See the picture on the right, this was the view from the rooftop. My room was on the fifth floor with views over the same street. The hotel had a swimming pool on the roof top and they offer valet parking as well. There was an on-site restaurant and breakfast was included. I didn’t really have much to complain about except that the carpets were slightly worn and made the place feel old. Otherwise good location and the breakfast was good too.
Going into LA
The next morning I got up early and took the first train into LA. The train station, which is more like a tram if you are European, was just outside the hotel. Contrary to the various urban myths, LA has a good public transport system and various street cars and underground trains. This one was the Blue Line from Long Beach direct to Downtown LA. If you have watched Collateral with Tom Cruise you will instantly recognise the train. I’ve shot the below video about the trip into downtown Los Angeles. Buying a day-pass is super easy: there are ticket machines everywhere and it’s also very cheap. The ticket is valid on buses, trains and underground so well worth the money.
Downtown Los Angeles
I got off at the last stop at 7th Street/Metro Center and went above ground to see the downtown area. A quick walk down 7th Street toward the south then a left on S Grand Avenue will take you to the areas with all the skyscrapers. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is also there and various other museums and parks. After the Walt Disney Concert Hall there is the Grand Park LA with benches and waterfalls to relax a little.
At the bottom end of the park is the Los Angeles City Hall which in itself is worth a visit. Just behind the city halls is Main Street. Turn right on this street and walk all the way to 5th Street where the “historic” downtown area is. There are some street vendors here and a couple of smaller parks if you want to have a cheap lunch. After lunch I decided to go to Santa Monica Beach, which is a stunning sandy beach that I’ve seen in many movies. Read the story about my day trip to Santa Monica.
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