Top 12 Free Things to Do in Long Beach

Long Beach, California offers an abundance of fun activities that won’t cost you a dime. From miles of beautiful beaches to great parks, museums and attractions, you can experience so much of what makes this city great without spending lots of money.

Belmont Shore BeachEnjoy swimming, surfing, and beach games on a mile-long sandy shore.
Beach Bike PathCycle for over 10 miles with oceanfront views, from Shoreline Village to Belmont Shore Beach.
Museum of Latin American ArtVisit on Sundays for free admission to explore modern and contemporary Latin American art.
Historic RanchosFree walking tours of Los Cerritos and Los Alamitos, showcasing 19th-century history.
Bluff Park & Bixby ParkOffers panoramic ocean views, picnic spots, and playgrounds.
Aquarium of the PacificFree access to outdoor exhibits daily from 3-5PM.
El Dorado Nature Center TrailsWalk through 102 acres of natural landscapes with diverse flora and fauna.
Downtown Long Beach TourFree walking tours every Saturday at 11AM, exploring landmarks and history.
Retro Row & East Village Arts DistrictWander through areas filled with vintage shops, boutiques, and street art.
Shoreline Village and Rainbow HarborExplore waterfront shops, restaurants, and free events.
Historical Society of Long BeachFree access to exhibits on local history in a historic Victorian farmhouse.
Free Music and Movie EventsEnjoy concerts and movies in parks and by the beach throughout the year.

In this article, we’ll highlight the top 12 free things to do in Long Beach so you can plan an affordable and memorable trip. We’ll cover prime spots to relax on the beach, take scenic walks and bike rides, explore museums and culture, and so much more. Keep reading for the inside scoop on how to enjoy Long Beach on the cheap!

Relax and Play on Belmont Shore Beach

No trip to Long Beach is complete without spending time on its stunning beaches. And one of the most popular is Belmont Shore Beach. Here you’ll find over a mile of sandy shoreline with designated areas for swimming, surfing, volleyball and more. Spend a few hours sunbathing, building sandcastles, playing beach games or simply unwinding atop a towel while taking in refreshing ocean breezes. You can also enjoy lovely pier views and watch people fishing off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

Bring a picnic or take an invigorating shoreline stroll anytime – there’s no entry fee to access and enjoy this prime stretch of Long Beach sand and surf.

Cycle along the Beach Bike Path

Name and Location: Belmont Shore Beach spans over a mile of coastline in Long Beach, California between 54th Place and Roycroft Avenue along the Pacific, attracting swimmers, sunbathers and volleyball players to its sandy shores.

History and Significance: As one of the most popular beach zones within Long Beach, Belmont Shore Beach affords convenient public coastal access across a long stretch boasting restrooms, showers, picnic tables and volleyball nets without the overwhelming crowds of destinations farther south. Its pleasant vibe appeals to families and couples alike seeking laidback enjoyment.

What to Expect: Visitors to Belmont Shore Beach soak up ample sand and surf all year long. Sunbathing, swimming, bodysurfing and building sandcastles occupy most hours while pickup games of volleyball, frisbee and more entertain older groups. The convenient Bluff Park and parking nearby add accessibility.

Visitor Information: Belmont Shore Beach stays open daily with no admission fees. Public parking available along Granada Ave, Beach Dr and Termino Ave starting at $1 per hour otherwise free spots farther out. Restrooms and showers onsite. Lifeguard staffing varies by month. Beach wheelchairs available.

For awesome oceanfront views while getting some exercise, cruise down the Beach Bike Path. This scenic route stretches over 10 miles from Shoreline Village to Belmont Shore Beach, passing several charming neighborhoods and attractions like the Aquarium of the Pacific. Bring your own bike or rent one and feel the fresh sea air as you pedal along the boardwalk, paved trail or quiet side streets.

There are plenty of spots to pause and take photos of the glittering water, working harbor and picturesque parks and gardens along the way. And you’ll work up an appetite for an affordable snack or meal at one of the cafes and eateries conveniently accessible from the path.

Explore the Museum of Latin American Art

Name and Location: Starting near Shoreline Village, an 8.5-mile paved recreational Beach Bike Path follows the coastline of Long Beach offering scenic cycling and skating opportunities across city beaches and attractions.

History and Significance: As an early adopter of community paths for cycling enthusiasts, Long Beach boasts over 60 miles of routes across the city – including the oceanside Beach Bike Path bringing joy to riders and people watchers alike as part of the South Bay Bicycle Trail spanning through Santa Monica and southwards towards Huntington Beach.

What to Expect: Pedal along the smoothly paved Beach Bike Path taking in refreshing ocean breezes and far-reaching surf vistas around every bend. Most segments stay separated from traffic aside from a short detour inland before returning alongside sandy stretches like at Belmont Shore Beach dotted with grassy parks welcoming picnics after working up an appetite exercising by the water.

Visitor Information: Free scenic cycling access daily along the 8.5-mile Beach Bike Path from Shoreline Village to 54th Place. Rent beach cruisers and tandem bikes affordably around Shoreline Village. Helmets recommended. Caution urged near Belmont Pier and intersections.

Art lovers will enjoy exploring the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in downtown Long Beach’s East Village Arts District. The only museum in the western United States dedicated exclusively to modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art, MOLAA has an impressive permanent collection as well as interesting temporary exhibits. Wander through galleries displaying vibrant paintings, sculptures, photography and more from talented artists across Mexico, Central and South America.

General admission to see the permanent collection is free on Sundays. And there’s even a chance to create your own art at their ARTElab on the third Sunday of most months. Check MOLAA’s event schedule online for upcoming lectures, family activities, films and performing arts offerings as well.

Tour the Historic Ranchos Los Cerritos and Los Alamitos

Name and Location: Historic Rancho Los Cerritos and Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach offer rare glimpses into early 19th century Californian ranch life alongside native Tongvan settlements preceding Spanish, then Mexican influence eventually ceding to American ranching expansion.

History and Significance: Los Cerritos Ranch House Museum resides amid vibrant gardens originally worked by the cattle-driving Temple Family since the 1840s until gaining state historic park status. Similarly, Los Alamitos “Little Cottonwoods” Ranch tour conveys evolution from powerful Tongvan roots through decades when prominent settlers cultivated the fertile landscape.

What to Expect: Tours spotlight the meticulously furnished Monterey-style adobe Los Cerritos Ranch House trimmed by verandas, courtyards and outbuildings conveying 1830s Californio lifestyles. Likewise, Los Alamitos Ranch House tours through six period room settings housed within the restored barns and homesteads transporting visitors back across generations of land stewards.

Visitor Information: Self or docent-led tour schedules and info at and Reasonable tour fees aid historic site preservation for these intimate glimpses into regional heritage where polite reservations help their volunteer efforts.

For a window into 19th century Californio and Mexican history, visit the Rancho Los Cerritos and Rancho Los Alamitos historic sites. Both offer free one-hour walking tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Knowledgeable docents will guide you through the beautifully-preserved adobe homes, built in the 1800s and surrounded by lush gardens.

Learn about those who occupied the ranchos through stories, artifacts and the architecture of the buildings themselves. Rancho Los Cerritos tours start on the hour from 1-4PM, while Rancho Los Alamitos tours are at 11AM and 1PM. No reservations required, just show up a few minutes early to secure your spot. And after your tour, feel free to explore both rancho sites and grounds on your own as well.

Take in the Views at Bluff Park and Bixby Park

Name and Location: On commanding bluffs overlooking the Long Beach coastline, miles of scenic walking paths traverse through Bluff Park stretching from Ocean Blvd up to Broadway Ave, plus its neighbor Bixby Park spanning eight acres across Ocean Blvd nearer Belmont Shore.

History and Significance: Gifted to the city starting in 1906 from the founding Bixby family dominating area ranching then oil discovery, these expansive blufftop parks offer green welcome mats to panoramic vistas from Palos Verdes around the sweeping Long Beach skyline near Belmont Shore almost too perfect to believe unless witnessed personally when the table seems set between lawn bowling, tennis and weekly farmers markets.

What to Expect: Multi-use recreation reigns across Bluff Park’s trails wiggle past arbors and fountains down to Bixby Park’s bocce ball courts framed by flowering trees, cactus gardens and sporadic public art installations like the bust of a peg-legged Mayor crowning surprises hidden around corners to reward those wandering activated imaginations beholding the California coastline.

Visitor Information: Sunrise to sundown access without fees to both blufftop parks offering free public parking along Ocean Blvd and Broadway Ave otherwise neighborhood street parking typically available thanks to the elongated footprint sustaining diverse passive enjoyments framed by inspiring ocean panoramas awaiting camera shutters and memory bookmarks.

With its prime position along towering bluffs, Bluff Park offers some of the most amazing panoramas in Long Beach. From this peaceful green space, soak in sweeping vistas that can stretch from Palos Verdes to Catalina Island. Bring a picnic and dine al fresco while the sunset paints the sky in gorgeous hues. Kids will enjoy the playground and grassy areas perfect for frisbee, flying kites or just running around. And be sure to explore theVietnam War Memorial here as well.

For more greenery with great views, head a few minutes north to Bixby Park. descendants of the founding Bixby Family of Long Beach. Stroll along tree-lined paths under a lush canopy, take a rest on benches beside the large duck pond, and let kids burn off energy at the playground. Find a spot on the grass or meander over to the cliffside overlooks for those fantastic oceanfront views.

See Ships and Sea Life at the Aquarium of the Pacific

Name and Location: The Aquarium of the Pacific spans across a 9-acre campus on Rainbow Harbor in downtown Long Beach, housing over 11,000 marine animals in exhibits emulating divergent Pacific aquatic regions.

History and Significance: Since opening in 1998, the hugely popular Aquarium of the Pacific ranks among America’s largest aquariums focused solely on the Pacific Ocean’s denizens across mammal, bird and plant species. State-of-the-art habitats also spotlight regional dangers like trash pollution threatening sea life survival dependent upon conservation efforts bridging entertainment with education.

What to Expect: Observe creatures from playful sea otters to pot-bellied seahorses inside the glass-walled enclosures modeled after regional biomes, ranging from frigid Bering Sea dwellers and tropical coral reef residents to local harbor fauna. Outdoors, the Shark Lagoon lets visitors touch small sharks gliding past as native greenery frames further exhibits consonant with Pacific ecosystems.

Visitor Information: General admission runs $34.95 peak season for adults, less for kids under 12 and seniors 60+. Entry includes access to daily feedings, stage shows, and special events. Validated discounted parking at Long Beach Convention Center garage. Timed entry tickets help avoid peak crowds.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is one of Long Beach’s most popular attractions. And you can visit without paying a penny! Every day from 3-5PM, the aquarium offers free access to view their outdoor exhibits. This includes the shark lagoon, ray touch pool, harbor scenes and Lorikeet Forest aviary. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see sharks, bright reef fish, jellyfish, playful sea otters and more.

While inside the main galleries does require regular paid admission, the free version still gives an exciting peek at the aquarium’s marine residents. Enjoy the energy of scampering sea lions and watch the fascinatingMagellanic penguins waddle around their habitat. Planning to be there at 3PM? Get ready to join the rush of visitors streaming through the special free entry doors as they open!

Stretch Your Legs on the El Dorado Nature Center Trails

Name and Location: Spanning over 100 acres of protected Long Beach wetlands, the El Dorado Nature Center at 7550 E Spring Street offers visitors walking trails past native species like butterflies, birds, squirrels and ducks along its tranquil ponds shaded by coastal greenery.

History and Significance: Saved from agricultural and commercial development threatening one of California’s few remaining natural wetlands, designation as the El Dorado Nature Center in 1974 preserved crucial habitats across smoothly paved trails reaching 1.5 miles looping around ponds, plant nurseries and through museum wings spotlighting regional natural heritage just steps from the San Gabriel River outlet embracing nature immersion.

What to Expect: Interpretive signs help identify native plants and wildlife visible from meandering walkways and dirt trails hugging the nature center’s serene ponds among fragrant coastal sage scrub plants drawing ample birds, turtles and small critters easily spotted year-round, plus special butterfly and bird houses invite closer observation during migrations across this protected oasis surprisingly proximate to suburbs.

Visitor Information: Free general admission 8 am until dusk for self-guided park enjoyment. Facilities like the museum and gift shop keep shorter hours detailed at Leashed pets allowed. Wheelchair and stroller ready paved paths enable diverse groups traversing the grounds.

For a revitalizing walk surrounded by nature, head to the El Dorado Nature Center. Trails here wind through a lovely landscape of marshland habitats, forest and field environments along the San Gabriel River. Enjoy a peaceful stroll or brisk hike on dirt paths and wooden bridges, keeping your eyes peeled for local wildlife like ducks, herons, turtles, lizards, butterflies and dragonflies.

With 102 acres to explore, you can easily spend hours wandering through tranquil natural scenery dotted with informative signs about native plants and animals. Download a trail map online or pick one up at the Visitor Center. Don’t miss visiting the bird observation deck for excellent opportunities to spot feathered friends in the marsh. Entry to the nature center and trails is completely free.

Take a Free Walking Tour of Downtown Long Beach

Name and Location: Volunteer docents lead free 90-minute early afternoon walking tours of Historic Pine Avenue and the downtown Long Beach arts district every first Saturday departing from the historic Walker’s Cafe at 123 West 1st Street built in 1902.

History and Significance: Revitalization of overlooked architectural gems across downtown Long Beach takes flight monthly thanks to passionate urban archeologists peeling back layers of time-worn paint and tenure revealing secrets that inspired early 20th century boom eras leaving present-day lessons to lift community continuity, appreciation starting one building at a time.

What to Expect: HearRollicking stories resurrecting halcyon eras of the roaring 20s when stars docked aboard the Queen Mary ocean liner mingling downtown with sailors plus everyday folks converging upon miles of nightclubs. Marvel at surviving examples of Art Deco towers, Streamline Moderne theatres and glazed terra cotta facade detailing ornamenting proud heritage structures given new purpose when common history bonds neighbors.

Visitor Information: Free tours occur the first Saturday of each month only, departing 1 pm from Walker’s Cafe so arriving early helps secure walk-up registration spots before capacity fills. Otherwise may list added tour dates as volunteer interest allows.

One of the best ways to get to know any new place is to take a walking tour. And in downtown Long Beach, interesting free walking tours are offered every Saturday at 11AM. Meet in front of the Convention & Entertainment Center for a fun, fact-filled 90-minute stroll around some of Long Beach’s most famous landmarks.

Knowledge local guides will regale you with tales about the architecture,hidden histories and pop culture associated with sites like the ocean liner Queen Mary. You’ll learn insider trivia about movie filming locations, Art Deco structures, the old Pike amusement park and much more. Tours happen rain or shine, so just dress accordingly and enjoy this engaging introduction to downtown’s attractions.

Window Shop on Retro Row and the East Village Arts District

Name and Location: Along 4th Street stretching from Junipero Avenue to Temple Avenue, the Retro Row corridor in Long Beach brims with shops, salons and cafes centered around midcentury modern aesthetics, across from the East Village Arts District spanning multiple blocks.

History and Significance: Capitalizing on burgeoning interest towards 1950s-60s architecture and furnishings found abundantly across central Long Beach bungalows, savvy small business visionaries ignited the Retro Row movement reactivating storefronts for inspired treasure hunters. Meanwhile, East Village galleries and studios filled once-vacant spaces with working artists crafting every medium.

What to Expect: Stroll Long Beach’s Retro Row lifting spirits through countless vintage outfitters and homemade goodies before crossing Cherry Avenue into the East Village Arts District to peruse boundary-pushing creations from resident painters, photographers, jewelers, textile designers and imaginative sculptors typically open late during monthly Art Walk events that energize streets between so many creative hubs.

Visitor Information: No admission fees. East Village Art Walk evenings occur bi-monthly year-round on 2nd Fridays starting 6pm detailed at while most Retro Row boutiques open around 11am daily presenting plenty for design enthusiasts to admire along this compact corridor with metered parking available.

Sometimes just taking in eye-catching sights while wandering is entertainment enough. And two great areas to explore in Long Beach are Retro Row and the East Village Arts District. Both neighborhoods brim with vintage shops, unique boutiques, cool coffee houses, global eateries and colorful street art.

Retro Row stretches along Fourth Street from Junipero to Temple, packed with distinctive small businesses like vinyl stores, used furniture emporiums and indie boutiques you won’t find in malls. Make sure to glance up at the fabulous mid-century murals adorning some building exteriors too.

Then head over to the East Village Arts District centered around Linden Avenue near First Street. Mixed among contemporary art galleries and studios are more awesome cafes, international cuisine spots and unique shops selling clothing, gifts and more. Simply strolling to take in the abundant visual eye candy won’t cost you a cent.

Check Out Shoreline Village and Rainbow Harbor

Name and Location: Along the scenic waterfront of downtown Long Beach, Shoreline Village and adjoining Rainbow Harbor entertain visitors with seaside shops, restaurants, watersports rentals and boutique hotels bordering an attractive marina filled with colorful ships and seasonal attractions.

History and Significance: Developed as part of the city’s successful 1983 waterfront revitalization strategy, Shoreline Village and Rainbow Harbor transformed an aging industrial wharf district into an iconic tourism destination welcoming all ages to the recreation-rich acreagepacked daily with couples, families and friends seeking iconic coastal memories alongside the elaborate Aquarium of the Pacific and annual events.

What to Expect: Relish long afternoons strolling waterside paths perusing village gift stores, petting local seals and sea lions lounging on harbor docks, dining upon fresh seafood, renting boats or bikes for further exploration across this picturesque playground filled with fountains, lawns and vistas where clear skies seem ordered daily embellishing rainbows arcing over sailboats bobbing as background to special moments bound ashore.

Visitor Information: Free general admission. Individual attraction, tour and gear rental fees apply. Wide range of lodging, dining and entertainment suiting all budgets. Events calendar at shorelinewebsite lists happenings. Garages offer paid parking. Walk, bike or taxi 10 minutes north from the Aquarium.

Another prime spot for wandering around shops and attractions is Shoreline Village and the neighboring Rainbow Harbor area. Shoreline Village offers 14 acres of waterfront retail space perfect for window shopping seaside style. Rainbow Harbor centers around a manmade marina lined with restaurants, unusual sculpture gardens and sightseeing options like whale watching tours.

Both locales host special events throughout the year as well – like outdoor concerts, arts and craft fairs, holiday festivities and summer beach volleyball tournaments. So check their event calendars online to see what’s happening. There’s often live music or entertainment that’s also free to enjoy while exploring the boardwalks.

Play Games and Ride the Carousel at Shoreline Village

Name and Location: Guests at Shoreline Village seeking family entertainment discover an array of coin-operated rides and arcade games spanning two seaside amusement piers jutting into the Long Beach Marina for carefree waterside fun just steps from shops and eateries.

History and Significance: Since debuting as part of Long Beach’s 1983 downtown shoreline recreation rebirth replacing fading shipping infrastructure, amusement rides and nautical motifs beckoning smiles aboard the brightly-painted Shoreline Village Carousel and challenging friends to air hockey duels inside neon-glowing arcades stand the test of generations eager to win plush unicorn prizes delivering salty breeze-tinged joy rode amid nonstop sights like days passing gently rocking aboard cabin cruisers waving families goodbye.

What to Expect: Feed quarters steadily into nearly two dozen pinball machines, shoot-em’ up games, skee ball alleys and demanding claw grab cabinetry skill tests purpose-built to extract tokens in return for momentary bragging rights and giant teddy bears hoping to find adoptive homes if Lady Luck brokers the plush exchange across these bustling family entertainment piers alive with both real and imagined chances for victory over house odds liking the overall PLAY disrupted occasionally when the gleeful carousel music starts sweeping riders smiling aboard a cavalcade of longtime pals horses, zebras, tigers and frogs admirably frozen in mid leap yet bounding again with the next lively turn carrying new carousel friends.

Visitor Information: Free unlimited general admission accessing the twin amusement piers and nearby Peninsula Park playground, with usage fees charged individually per ride, game or attraction applicable. Visitors welcome daily from generally 10 am onwards into evenings on warm weekends.

In addition to strolling the shops and restaurants, Shoreline Village offers a few fun activities that won’t cost you a penny. Let kids run around the lively green lawn or playground. Try your hand at checkers or tic tac toe using giant game pieces on the life-size board. And when you need a quick break, take a spin on their beautiful antique carousel.

This intricately carved and painted carousel features three rows of animals including horses, a zebra, giraffes and more. Rides are $2 each, but every Thursday between 11AM – 1PM, everyone can enjoy free carousel rides. With gorgeous harbor views and carnival music playing, it’s a nostalgic treat kids of all ages can ride again and again.

See Diverse Exhibits at the Historical Society of Long Beach

Name and Location: Established in 1962, the Historical Society of Long Beach collects, preserves and shares regional history across rotating exhibits inside its Main Gallery at 4260 Atlantic Avenue and specialty displays within its adjacent Shoemaker Cottage charmingly decorated with period furnishings inSIGNAL HILL CA.

History and Significance: Thanks to dedicated volunteers and strategic neighborhood location, the Historical Society of Long Beach serves as a neighborhood anchor protecting relics of the city’s heritage including Ranchos era adobes, sailing era mementoes and insights into founding families like the Bixbys whose land originally spanned one fifth of today’s metropolis footprint before oil discovery and 20th century expansion introduced subsets equally important to understanding collective identity across 11 distinctive historic districts.

Dive into details about famous residents, major events and the unique heritage of Long Beach at the Historical Society of Long Beach. Located in a historic Queen Anne Victorian farmhouse, this museum and research archives offers changing exhibits about various aspects of local history. Visit their research library to look up facts on family genealogy records too.

While access to the archives is only free for members, entrance to exhibit galleries on the 1st and 2nd floors is always free. Learn about influential figures like activist Earl Burns, entrepreneur George Bixby or aviator Elsie Mackay. There’s always something new to discover related to Long Beach’s intriguing past. Open Thursday – Sunday with free daytime admission.

Attend Free Music and Movie Events

From concerts in the park to movies in the sand, many free music and movie events happen yearly across Long Beach. In the summer, check Shoreline Village and Rainbow Lagoon Park schedules for their Summer Tidelands Concert Series and Movies in the Park events. At both locales, you can spread out a blanket to enjoy awesome tribute bands and family films under the stars for free.

The Long Beach Municipal Band also performs a series of 100% free Sunday evening concerts in parks all over the city during summer months. Or rock out to live music at fountain shows near the Performing Arts Center every Friday. Long Beach offers lots of ways to soak in tunes, watch flicks and find fantastic free entertainment.


With sugar-sand beaches, scenic oceanfront bike trails, fascinating museums, nature centers, historic sites and fun attractions to explore, Long Beach overflows with free things to see and experience. Get your fill of sun, surf, culture, art, entertainment, delectable cuisine and beautiful scenery around one of Southern California’s most dynamic cities without draining your wallet. Use our carefully curated guide to plan an unforgettable Long Beach getaway full of joy, discovery and relaxation that fits even the tightest travel budget.

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