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 

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

Long Beach Airport, located three miles northeast of downtown Long Beach and seven miles from the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, was ranked one of the Top 10 Best Small Airports by USA Today readers. 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

    • Located at the end of a five-mile stretch of beach with the historic RMS Queen Mary as its backdrop, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center is at the heart of the city’s dining and entertainment district. With more than 400,000 feet of meeting and event space and 34 meeting rooms, the Center is equipped with a wide range of stunning décor, advanced lighting systems, and venues of varying size; the Center is ready to accommodate any event with turnkey precision.

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    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. 

    • For meetings and events with an artistic bent, consider the Long Beach Museum of Art, which has been celebrating creativity for more than 70 years. Planners can make use of the museum’s beautiful coastal grounds, which are graced with a historic craftsman home that dates to 1911 as well as a two-story gallery space. Claire’s at the Museum, the onsite restaurant, is available for onsite catering. In addition, in 2019 the facility acquired LBMA Downtown, a gallery and meeting space in the East Village Arts District with 35-foot ceilings, exposed brick walls and lots of natural light.  

    New and Coming Soon to Long Beach

    • 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. 

    • 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

    • Groups can enjoy Long Beach’s ideal climate while cycling along the beach path. Wheel Fun Rentals can handle group and individual rentals. 

    Long Beach Excursions

    • 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. 

    Top Restaurants in Long Beach

     Long Beach 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: 
    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. 

    • 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.