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Long Beach Harbor: Shoreline Park, Rainbow Harbor, and Aquarium

Long Beach Harbor, on the southern edge of downtown Long Beach, offers an array of activities: You can visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, take a bay cruise or an overnight excursion to Catalina Island (a one-hour boat ride), stroll paved trails, fish from two piers at Shoreline Park, or shop at Shoreline Village–and when it’s time to eat, a variety of dining options should suit most any palate. You can pick up maps at the small visitor information kiosk near the transit hub on Aquarium Way, but excellent signage throughout the area will also help to guide you. If possible, plan to visit during the week--especially in summer, when weekends can be extremely crowded.

The Aquarium of the Pacific has wondrously large tanks and exhibits representing three different regions of the Pacific: southern California and Baja, the tropical Pacific, and the subarctic waters of Russia and northern Japan. The aquarium features 11,000 animals in more than 50 exhibits, as well as multimedia presentations, an aviary, and a wheelchair-accessible playground with a replica of a whale’s skeleton. There is excellent access throughout.

For a break from the activity at the harbor, step across West Shoreline Drive from the aquarium to Rainbow Lagoon, a small man-made lagoon encircled by a paved path. Several bridges cross over the lagoon but are quite steep, and I didn't attempt it in my motorized wheelchair. Continue down South Pine Avenue to the pedestrian-friendly downtown. To reach the Pike at Rainbow Harbor, a dining and entertainment district, look for an elevator by the Bubba Gump restaurant that will take you to a bridge that crosses West Shoreline Drive.

Trail/Pathway Details

Trailhead: Foot of Pine Ave

Length: 1-2 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Gentle

Most of the route is level except for some sections in Shoreline Park

Terrain: Hard


I started my exploration at the Pine Avenue Pier at Rainbow Harbor. There is no fishing at this short pier––there are two fishing piers further along the trail, at Shoreline Park––but you can view tour boats, get a glimpse of a replica of a lighthouse that sits atop a verdant knoll in Shoreline Park, see the Queen Mary looming large on the horizon, and read about the Transpacific Yacht Race, one of the longest boat races in the world, at several interpretive panels that line the walkway.

I followed the pathway to the right, which leads past vendors selling various types of boat rides (several are wheelchair-accessible), and reached the aquarium in about .2 miles. Be sure to stop by the waterscape just outside the aquarium to see and learn about water's natural flow from the mountains to the ocean. After the aquarium you come to Pierpoint Landing, where you can buy bait and fishing licenses or book a trip on a fishing boat. From here, Shoreline Park wraps around Rainbow Harbor and extends onto a small peninsula that juts out into Queensway Bay. You have three options for traversing the park: the wooden boardwalk close to the harbor, which travels a short distance through some restored dunes, then meets up with a concrete pathway that continues along the harbor side; the center concrete pathway, which travels uphill to the lighthouse; or the outer trail, which provides access to the Long Beach Naval Memorial, a picnic area and two fishing piers, and skirts the Los Angeles River.

Back at Pine Avenue Pier, if you follow the brick pathway to your left you will wrap around Rainbow Harbor and reach the shops and restaurants at Shoreline Village in .2 miles. From the Shoreline Village parking lot you can connect to the Shoreline Pedestrian Bike Path.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Beach Wheelchair: No

Accessible Parking: Yes

Shoreline Village, on Golden Shore near Shoreline Park, and at the parking structure on Aquarium Way

Accessible Restroom: Yes

At Pierpoint Landing (the accessible stall has no door), Shoreline Park, Shoreline Village (next to the surrey rentals), and in a portable trailer by the traffic circle at Aquarium Way

Other Things of Interest

When she was launched in 1936, the Queen Mary was the largest luxury liner in the world. On her maiden voyage she carried 2,000 passengers and 1,200 crew members across the Atlantic in less than four days. During World War II she was stripped of her lavish décor and transformed into a troop ship; after the war she resumed passenger service. In 1967 she was moved to Long Beach Harbor, where she is now a hotel, restaurant, and tourist attraction. Much of her Art Deco magnificence has been preserved. Wheelchair access is limited, with large portions of the ship simply unreachable, but she’s still well worth a visit. The accessible entrance is at the hotel, at the opposite end from the ship's main entrance. From the hotel lobby, take the elevator to the Promenade Deck, where you can stop at the information counter for a map or to purchase a tour––we found the "Behind the Scenes" tour enthralling. Fortunately, the main exhibits are on the Promenade level, so there’s much to see even if you don’t take a tour. The hotel has accessible guestrooms.
Lighthouse replica at Shoreline Park
Lighthouse replica at Shoreline Park (Bonnie Lewkowicz)

Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • boating
  • fishing
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: City of Long Beach, Parks, Recreation, and Marine Department
Address: Foot of S. Pine Ave
Phone: (562) 570-3100
Hours: Aquarium of the Pacific: Daily, 9 am –6 pm;closed Christmas Day and during the Grand Prix of Long Beach
Fees: Parking, Aquarium
Dogs: On leash
Public Transportation: Long Beach Transit
Useful Links: AquaLink, Shoreline Village,
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, May 3, 2013
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
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Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
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