Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in

Long Beach, Calif.

Learn why you should host your next meeting, event or conference in Long Beach, Calif.

Why Long Beach for Your Next Meeting or Event?

With its abundant coastal beauty and magnificent views, Long Beach, Calif., is a postcard-perfect destination for meetings and events. Planners can wow attendees with the beautiful scenery, as well as a variety of other selling points — including a sophisticated culinary scene, vibrant shopping districts and world-famous attractions. And now, Long Beach has upped the ante with technological advances, extensive hygiene protocols and the ability to host blended meetings, positioning it as an ideal choice for satisfying the needs of today’s groups. 

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Known as the “international city by the sea,” Long Beach is an international playground with miles of inspiring oceanfront views. But it’s also a destination that knows how to get down to business, with well-equipped facilities like the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, a growing number of group-friendly hotels and a variety of other unique venues. When it comes to providing groups with memorable and engaging experiences, Long Beach knows how to mix business with pleasure. 

Only in Long Beach 

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Long Beach is the ideal choice in Southern California for hassle-free events. Venues and attractions are never more than a few minutes away, making it easy for guests to avoid traffic and get to meetings and events quickly — which also means there’s more time to enjoy after the work is done. The destination excels at offering activities that appeal to a variety of tastes. Whether attendees opt to cycle along the beach path from downtown hotels to go shopping in Belmont Shore, hop aboard a water taxi to have lunch in Alamitos Bay or take the free Passport bus to immerse themselves in creativity at the Museum of Latin American Art, the possibilities are endless. 

Meeting planners looking for fresh ideas may want to check out the new Long Beach Days & Getaways campaign. Every week through this spring and summer, the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau is sharing brand-new, curated Long Beach itineraries that highlight various aspects of the destination, including cuisine, lifestyle and culture. While many groups may not have immediate plans to meet in Long Beach yet, the material can provide inspiration for future events as well. Additional details are included in the Long Beach blog and planners can also make use of the accompanying videos on the CVB’s YouTube channel to generate even more excitement among attendees. 

Transportation In and Around the Area

One of the many selling points of meeting in Long Beach is the hassle-free access offered by Long Beach Airport. Founded in 1923, it’s the oldest airport in in California, and was named a Top 10 airport in the 2020 USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards. Located three miles northeast of downtown Long Beach and seven miles from the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, the facility offers convenient nonstop service to a variety of U.S. cities and, in October 2021, was certified by Airports Council International, the leading industry group for airports, with a Level 2 Airport Accreditation emission reduction rating. This means that the Long Beach Airport has proved successful in its carbon reduction efforts. As meeting planners continue to pay increasing attention to sustainability and eco-friendly practices, this is especially good news. Taxi cost, approximately $25. 

Travel Essentials

Taxes: Transient occupancy tax, 13%; sales tax, 10.25%

Convention Center: Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center; meeting and exhibit space: 400,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 34

In Walking Distance:
Take a soothing stroll through Rainbow Lagoon Park, which features lovely Japanese-style landscaping, and perhaps rent a swan boat from Wheel Fun Rentals for a scenic outing on Rainbow Lagoon. Pick up some great deals at the Pike Outlets, where restaurants, nightlife venues, a theater and even a Ferris Wheel provide lots of diversions for those looking to take a break from business. 

CVB: Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau

    Meeting and Event Venues

    • The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center reopened its doors on August 8, marking the return of one of the city’s largest economic engines. And the facility is already getting busy with new events; in August, it’s hosting three conventions, bringing about 10,600 attendees to Long Beach, and through the end of this year a total of 14 conventions will take place. Located on the downtown waterfront, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center has more than 400,000 square feet of flexible exhibit and meeting space, including two theaters, four ballrooms, an arena and 34 multi-purpose meeting rooms. 

     

    Long Beach theater

    Events can take on theatrical excitement at the Terrace Theater, located at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. The 3,000-seat venue, which has hosted a variety of public performances, is graced with a three-story, glass-walled lobby, as well as a main plaza with an eye-catching fountain where multiple columns are illuminated with spectacular colors.  The 10,090-square-foot Terrace Theater lobby accommodates 1,121 people for receptions, while the plaza is ideal for groups of up to 1,642. 

    Beverly Oneill Theater Long Beach

     The Beverly O’Neill Theater is yet another noteworthy meeting and event space located at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. The venue features a decidedly group-friendly layout, with 825 seats set in a half-circle around a thrust stage, assuring that every attendee will have a good view for presentations. Flexible staging, lighting and sound options make it possible to create a variety of memorable events.  

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    The recent $50 million renovations at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center have made The Cove, a dedicated open-air event space, even more attractive for pre-function receptions, concerts and parties. Occupying the area in front of the Seaside Meeting Rooms below the Terrace Theater, The Cove offers 50,000 square feet of event space, as well as a new pedestrian bridge that will offer 3,500 customizable LED lights and immersive landscaping. 

    Recent upgrades at the Long Beach Arena have made it even more enticing for groups. Part of the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, the 46,000-square-foot Long Beach Arena is described as “epic meets intimate,” with large-scale proportions and myriad opportunities to create a variety of welcoming settings and unique themes. Groups of various sizes can make use of the facility, which offers three distinct sections: the Pacific Ballroom, a lavish venue with a moveable ceiling truss system, the Pacific Gallery and Patio, which features both indoor and outdoor space, and Bogart & Co., a newly developed event space with stylish, lounge-style seating.  

    Featuring the latest in meetings technology, the Center supports hybrid events with both in-person and remote elements. While your keynote speaker addresses a gathering in the Beverly O’Neill Theater, the Center’s digital meetings platform ensures a synergistic experience with real-time interaction for remote attendees.

    In addition to the latest technology, the Center features contemporary fixtures and furnishings with inviting niches for networking – no rentals required. Imagine a swanky afterparty in the spacious Pacific Room or a street party on a warm Southern California night; whatever the budget, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center will make it happen.

    • Long Beach’s beautiful and expansive waterfront may be known for its vacation-style diversions, but it’s also an excellent destination for meetings and groups, thanks to the diversity of group-friendly attractions and activities that await. Attendees can enjoy everything from whale-watching excursions to visits to the magnificent Aquarium of the Pacific which has lots of experience hosting events and private tours (see event details below). Sea kayaking, electric bicycles and even gondola rides are among the activities that await. As for accommodations and meetings with water views, the 138-room Hyatt Centric The Pike Long Beach has more than 5,800 square feet of event space, including a rooftop lounge and open-air courtyard. 

    • As mentioned above, Aquarium of the Pacific offers an unforgettable opportunity to stage events in a unique venue that showcases the diverse marine life of the Pacific Ocean, with more than 12,000 creatures among its residents. Group options include meetings in a new, LEED Platinum-Certified building with a “living roof,” as well as picnics that include 90 minutes of meal service and all-day access to the aquarium. Menus for private events feature sustainable, locally-sourced food. 

    Long Beach museum


    • Planners can infuse events with artistic flair by making use of the city’s noteworthy art museums. The Museum of Latin American Art, which is billed as the only museum in the United States dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art, has a permanent collection of more than 1,300 works of art, while its 15,000-square-foot sculpture garden provides an especially lovely setting for events. The Long Beach Museum of Art, meanwhile, houses more than 3,200 works spanning 300 years of American and European creativity. The venue offers meeting and event space at its main location as well as LBMA Downtown, a gallery and meeting space in the East Village Arts District. Catering is available through Claire’s at the Museum, the restaurant on the main museum campus that recently welcomed renowned Chef Michael Ryan to its team.  

    • For small‐scale gatherings with an educational bent, consider a visit to the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library, which opened in 2016 in a 24,655‐square‐foot building with three meeting spaces. The facility is part of the Long Beach Public Library system, which also operates the Billie Jean King Main Library, a venue that also has community meeting rooms.

    New and Coming Soon to Long Beach

    • One of Long Beach’s most iconic hotels is about to make a comeback — and with a new brand affiliation. Accor recently announced a new contract to attach one of its brands to The Breakers, a luxury hotel with a rich history of hosting celebrities. Following a major renovation, the property is to reopen in 2023 as the 185-room Fairmont The Breakers, Long Beach. Meeting planners will be able to make use of 12,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space, including a 2,800-square-foot, third-floor pool deck that overlooks the Performing Arts Center fountains. The Breakers will also have five food and beverage venues that includes a renovated Sky Room, the restaurant that first opened its doors atop the hotel building in 1938.

    • Planners looking to infuse events with vintage chic should take a look at Retro Whoa!, a themed group of activities and venues with a decidedly hip ambiance. Launched as part of the city’s curated Long Beach Days and Getaways campaign, the itinerary includes a stop at the aptly named Retro Row, a group of interesting shops like Alien Artifacts. Nearby, the Art Theater is a beautifully restored, 380-seat Art Deco theater that’s available for private screenings and presentations. Shopaholics won’t want to miss a stop at Urban Americana, a 16,000-square-foot vintage design, furniture and accessories store. And, in keeping with the retro vibe, groups might want to consider lunch at Park Pantry, a classic diner lined with celebrity headshots, or cocktails at the Grasshopper, a lounge that exudes mid-century hipness. 

    • Long Beach provides planners with myriad opportunities to indulge attendees with unique experiences. To make it even easier, the CVB recently debuted a Luxe Urban Getaway, part of the city’s Long Beach Days and Getaways campaign. The themed itinerary includes accommodations at the Hotel Maya — a Doubletree by Hilton property that’s described as “Mayan mystique with urban chic” and offers 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space. Also part of this curated itinerary are pampering treatments at FloatSpace, a spa that offers float therapy and sports therapy, both designed to ease stress and tension. For dining and entertainment, the itinerary features 555 East, a steakhouse with multiple venues for private dining, and Bo Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap, a casual eatery with an open-air beer garden. The venue hosts groups of up to 250 guests. 

    • In May, the Long Beach CVB began launching weekend and day trip itineraries that will fill your free time with memorable experiences. Whether it’s discovering unique hotels, world-class attractions like the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific and the Queen Mary, cutting-edge museums or enjoying award-winning restaurants and a thriving, multi-faceted arts and culture scene, you and your group are bound to find inspiration in Long Beach. And now you can save your new favorite places and share your itinerary with your group and other friends through Facebook and Twitter.

    • Among the newest hotels slated to open in Long Beach are The Hotel, a 34-room boutique property located one block from the Terrace Theater at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. Also in the works is the reopening of the 185-room Breakers Hotel & Spa, a luxurious update to a historic oceanfront hotel that first opened in 1926. Celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth once walked the halls of this famed hotel, and today the property is gearing up to welcome groups, with two ballrooms that measure more than 3,000 square feet as well as six meeting rooms, two terraces and a pool deck. Scheduled to re-open in early 2023, the property will also have multiple dining venues, a spa and jazz club and it is conveniently located adjacent to the Long Beach Convention Center. Contact Jeremy Pinkerton of the Breakers Hotel & Spa for more info: [email protected].

    • One of the newest hotels already open in the city is the Staybridge Suites Long Beach Airport, which offers free shuttle service to and from the city’s airport as well as to destinations within a three-mile radius of the property. The pet-friendly hotel, which serves a free hot breakfast every morning, has a 24-hour business center, guest laundry facilities, and guest rooms with full kitchens. 

    • The 528-room Hyatt Regency Long Beach, the city’s largest hotel, is sporting a refreshed look and improved services after reopening earlier this year. The hotel lobby now features a new dining venue, Market Bar, which specializes in healthy California cuisine, and the property follows stringent hygiene protocols by adhering to Hyatt’s Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment. Planners can make use of more than 35,000 square feet of onsite meeting and event space.

    • Recently renovated hotels include the 
    Long Beach Marriott, which in 2020 completed a major renovation of its public areas and meeting space, while also adding a new front desk, bar and restaurant. The property has more than 17,000 square feet of meeting space. 

    • The Long Beach Airport is in the midst of expansion as well as other improvements. Phase two of the modernization program, which is scheduled for completion in 2022, includes structural improvements to the facility’s original 1941 terminal building as well as improvements to the baggage claim area, ticketing facilities, rental car return lot, ground transportation center and terminal roadways. 

    Things to Do in Long Beach

    Extending Your Trip

    • Dedicated shopaholics will do well to consider extending their stay in Long Beach. Among the most popular places to shop are Shoreline Village, a waterfront complex that’s home to stores including The Beach House, which celebrates the beach lifestyle, Istanbul Home, which stocks handcrafted art and accessories, and Queen Mary Couture, which is a great place for hip, vintage and “rocker-chic” fashion. When it comes time to refuel, Shoreline Village offers fine dining options like Queensview Steakhouse and Parker’s Lighthouse, as well as casual eateries like Gilan Pizza & Grill and Shenanigans Irish Pub & Grill. 

    • For a truly spirited experience in Long Beach, consider organizing a visit to the neighborhood called Bixby Knolls, which is a hotspot for unique bars, breweries and restaurants. Among the noteworthy venues is Willmore Wine Bar, which offers a diverse wine menu and indoor and outdoor seating. The aptly named Cheese Addition, meanwhile, serves “collections” of gourmet cheeses and also offers private “cheese addict 101” classes for groups. 

    Getting Active and Outdoors

    • Planners can swing their programs in a sporting direction at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, which has eight lighted courts, computerized ball machines and 24-hour racket stringing service. Groups can stage tournaments and social events at the modern facility, which is located near Blair Field, a popular baseball field.

    • Groups can put their physical skills to the test during a visit to Long Beach Rising, a rock-climbing gym on East Anaheim Street. The facility offers 15,000 feet of climbing space, more than 155 boulder “problems” for visitors to solve and daily bouldering classes to help beginners and experienced climbers alike. Guests can also join yoga
    and fitness classes.

    • Groups can experience Long Beach’s beautiful waterfront in an especially memorable way when they book an outing with Long Beach Waterbikes, a company that operates a fleet of aquatic bikes. Groups can choose from daytime and sunset rides, as well as a colorful, after-dark “glow ride” during which the hydrobikes are dramatically illuminated.

    • Groups can enjoy Long Beach’s ideal climate while cycling along the beach path. Wheel Fun Rentals can handle group and individual rentals. A large selection of bikes, specialty cycles, electric bikes, Surreys, cruiser bikes and more are available, as well as guided tours.

    • Golf enthusiasts will find lots to love in Long Beach. Among the noteworthy venues for teeing off is
    Recreation Park 18, which provides a verdant backdrop for golf outings as well as private meetings and events. The property has an on-site team of event experts as well as multiple venue options, including a clubhouse, a banquet room and a garden gazebo that accommodates more than 200 guests. Attendees can also test their skills on the 6,405-yard, par 72 course.

    Long Beach Excursions

    • Groups looking to connect with the rich history of the Pacific should consider a visit to the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum, which features permanent and temporary exhibits showcasing the fascinating cultures of the Islands of Oceania. The facility’s permanent collection includes masi (cloth made of bark) from Fiji, a tapwanu mask used to ward off storms in Chuuk. Private tours are available for groups of up to 25.

    • For excursions with a historic backdrop, consider a visit to the Battleship USS Iowa Museum, the only battleship open to the public on the West Coast. Located on the San Pedro-Los Angeles waterfront, not far from Long Beach, the ship served the country in World War II, Korea and during the Cold War. Group tours are available both in person and online, providing unique options for hybrid meeting groups. 

    • Whale watching is an especially rewarding experience in the waters off the coast of Long Beach. Since these beautiful creatures migrate along California's coast year-round, groups can partake in whale-watching cruises regardless of the season — although certain months are best for viewing certain species. Gray whales and humpback whales, for example, are the most common visitors between January and April, while blue whales and finback whales are visible from May through September and minke whales pass through the waters from October to December. Companies including Harbor Breeze Cruises and Spirit Cruises offer guided whale-watching excursions, with private charters available. 

    • Long Beach is perfectly positioned to provide easy access to a variety of Southern California’s most legendary amusement parks, making it easy to inject additional excitement into any event. DisneylandUniversal Studios Hollywood and Knott’s Berry Farm are among the top attractions, and all are an easy side trip from Long Beach, whether for individual or organized group visits. 

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    • Located just off the California coast, Catalina Island is another noteworthy destination for excursions from Long Beach. There, groups can connect with nature while enjoying an array of exciting outdoor activities, including zip line eco tours, biofuel Hummer tours and undersea submarine expeditions. High-speed ferry service direct from Long Beach takes visitors to Catalina Island in just one hour, while helicopter service and boat charters are ideal for planners looking to provide more personalized service for attendees. 

    Long Beach restaurant

    Unique Shopping and Dining Districts

    Groups will find lots to love in Long Beach’s Downtown. The area, in fact is home to three decidedly unique shopping and dining districts. In the quirky and quaint East Village Arts District, for example, attendees can browse an eclectic variety of shops, galleries and restaurants. Shoreline Village is the place for exciting waterfront shopping, dining and diversion, and it offers a spectacular view of Rainbow Harbor. The Downtown Core, meanwhile, is home to Pine Avenue, a thriving business hub where businesses and restaurants are set in beautifully maintained, historic early 20th-century buildings.   

    Top Restaurants in Long Beach

    Long Beach offers a vibrant culinary scene that’s sure to please the palates of diverse groups. The city has more than 100 restaurants within an eight-block radius of downtown, and planners will have plenty of options for satisfying the diverse palates of meeting and event attendees.  

    Among the memorable culinary experiences in Long Beach: 
    • With its indoor/outdoor dining options and “new American” menu that combines locally sourced ingredients with southern culinary traditions, The Attic on Broadway has long been a local favorite for lunch and dinner. The venue, which is set in a craftsman-style former home, hosts private meals for small groups and also offers catering services for offsite events. 

    • At Wild Chive, attendees can savor brunches with tempting dishes like pumpkin “cheesecake” stuffed French toast and beer-battered chicken and waffles, while at Plunge LBC, options range from classic hamburgers to seafood delights as well as delectable vegan-friendly dishes, all served in a beach-club setting that offers spectacular sunset views. International culinary options abound in Long Beach as well, with options including Cambodian specialties at Little La Lune, Brazilian favorites at Green Field Churrasceria and Thai dishes at Thai District, to name a few. 

    555 East is an upscale option that’s perfect for meat lovers (and they offer other options too), specializing in meats that are aged for up to 120 days in a temperature and humidity-controlled room lined with pink Himalayan salt bricks. The venue recently opened a new patio called the Deck on Linden, which offers views of the harbor and the Queen Mary and seating for 60 for private events. For groups, the restaurant also offers a 50-person private dining room, 20-person veranda, a 24-person side bar and 25-person wine cellar. 

    • Also offering impressive oceanfront views is the Boathouse on the Bay, which sits on Long Beach Alamitos Bay and serves premium steaks, seafood and sushi. Live musical entertainment is a regular feature at this scenic venue, which offers private dining and event space for up to 60 guests with indoor seating and up to 100 for events with indoor and outdoor seating. 

    • Long Beach offers a diverse array of group‐friendly dining options. At Agaves Kitchen and Tequila, for example, attendees can savor modern Mexican cuisine, accompanied by an extensive cocktail menu. The venue, located in downtown Long Beach, has space for cocktail receptions and private dining, including a covered and heated patio. Complete buyouts of the restaurant are also available.

    • Beer lovers will find lots to love when planners organize a coastal beer crawl in Long Beach. Stunning ocean views provide the perfect backdrop for memorable gatherings at a variety of unique venues, including Beachwood BBQ, which hosts guests on a lovely patio and serves creatively named brews like Funk Yeah 2019 (a Gueuze-inspired sour ale) and We Are Who We Pretend to Be 2019 (a sour ale spontaneously fermented and aged in oak barrels). Barbecue sandwiches are an ideal complement. Also recommended is Ficklewood Ciderworks, which is set in a former Department of Motor Vehicles office and features an impressive nine-foot-high pour of its homemade ciders, as well as experienced staff who explain the history of the beverage. 

    Delighting the Taste Buds with a Long Beach Brunch
    • Long Beach is known for its diverse and sophisticated culinary experiences. And brunch is a perfect way to treat attendees to a memorable meal during a relaxing weekend outing. Visit Long Beach has published a list of 10 noteworthy brunch venues, with tasty options like Fuego, a restaurant inside the Hotel Maya, near the legendary Queen Mary. This stylish venue, which has indoor and outdoor dining space, offers a brunch menu with Latin flair, with dishes like barbecued quesadillas and chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican breakfast, all complemented by an extensive cocktail list. Another tempting possibility is The Breakfast Bar, which is known for its mimosas and breakfast Mai Tais as well as dishes like Uncle Marcee’s Omelet Casserole and the unforgettably named Hung Over plate, which features generous portions of eggs and sausage with gravy. Seating is available indoors and outdoors, and the restaurant hosts private dining events as well.