Images (not) from New York, Long Beach CA edition.

The RMS Queen Mary

Another week, another trade show for Michael, and the opportunity to explore another new-to-me city came up at the end of May, this time taking us back to California but to a different part of that massive state. There are YouTubers who I follow who like to snark on the fact that Michael Eisner went with a pretty cheap and intellectually lazy concept when he greenlit Disney’s California Adventure, but at least it’s for a state that is genuinely incredibly vast in scope. The Bay Area is such a different place than the LA metro that it’s not easy to remember that they all are in the same state. 

I was curious about Long Beach; prior to our trip, the only thing I really knew about the place was that there were plans to make another Disney park there that would center around arguably the city’s largest tourist attraction, the RMS Queen Mary, but those plans fell through. When I realized that there was a location of famed LA-area restaurant Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles not far from our hotel, I knew Michael would want to go there and, frankly, so did I. My plan was to take it all in stride, fill up a map with plenty of ideas, and see where the week would lead us.

The bodega bacon egg and cheese sandwich at The Ordinarie

One thing to keep in mind is that Long Beach is more of a port city than a beachy destination. Yes, there are beaches to go to, but it’s not exactly simple to get to them–especially if you don’t have a car–so while we got to see the Pacific Ocean, we didn’t venture too close to it. Long Beach actually reminds me more of Baltimore in a way: it has an inner harbor that bustles with tourists, complete with an aquarium, and Baltimore too is a port city, albeit not on the same scale due to the size limitations of the Bay Bridge dictating what cargo ships can make it up the Chesapeake. 

The fried chicken thigh and waffle from Roscoe’s

Also like Baltimore, Long Beach has a really solid food scene that deserves more attention than it gets because of a larger city that eclipses it in terms of media coverage. We ate really well over the course of our near-week in town, from really good local beer and BBQ on our last night to a fantastic Sunday brunch on our first full day in town. The Ordinarie’s bodega bacon egg and cheese sandwich still haunts me, and I’ll be remaking at least some of the cocktails we enjoyed there at home soon. After running some errands to send off some of the devices from the show booth, we treated ourselves to a nice lunch at Roscoe’s, and it was absolutely worth the hype. I’ve never had fried chicken that most and tender before, and the crust was absolutely divine. It’s not an inexpensive meal, but I treat it the way I do a visit to Katz’s in that you’re paying for an institution but it 1000% lives up to the hype and then some.

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Post-errands and prior to that lunch, though, I suggested that we go to a Japanese garden on the campus of California State University, and it was a really great little detour. The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is free to enter, though you need to make reservations online and pay a nominal fee for parking, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The central pond is stacked with koi that are among the livelier I’ve seen, and taking an hour to absorb all of the grounds was the respite we both needed.

The recently-defunct City Center Motel

Walking around Long Beach proper was really interesting, too–the mix of architectural styles range from the hyper-modern to mid-century fantastic to turn of the century sublime, and it was fun walking down the main drags to see which buildings would catch my eye next. We became mildly obsessed with the former City Center Motel that had recently closed because of how it looked like something straight out of a Mad Men set, and I hope that it doesn’t get redeveloped into an ugly glass tower or worse because it is so interesting to look at.

The Korean Friendship Bell

Our last day was spent with some more exploration: first touring the USS Iowa, which was both fascinating but also terrifying as you climb pretty high on the battleship, and then checking out some local parks to take in the view. Our trip home the next day was long as going across the country usually is, but we were happy to be back in Baltimore the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and had zero snafus to speak of, so overall a huge W for us.

We also were able to spend an evening in Los Angeles  for a group dinner, but that deserves its own post because I’ve rambled long enough here.

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