Off the Clock

Your time-off itinerary for things to do in Long Beach and beyond.

The grassy knoll beside the Colorado Lagoon. Photo by Kat Schuster.

You’re already seeing it. Candy corn string lights, decorative squash, pumpkin spice everything and this slogan that arrived years ago and refused to leave: “It’s fall y’all!” Indeed.

Christmas is also (apparently) almost here, according to every grocery store.

Whether you love it or you hate it—the holidays are coming and they won’t leave until mid-January.

Today, we’re going to talk about self-care and I’ll share an anti-social itinerary to help you recharge and prepare for the madness that lies ahead. Beware, it may be your last chance.

But first, let’s chat about that buzzterm “self-care.”

While I am a huge fan of retail therapy (just read any of my thrift store guides) and I will admit to buying a $17 intention candle at House of Intution, this column will not be peddling the Goop-ification of the trillion-dollar ~self-care~ machine.

In short, self-care has become a marketable term to sell you things, lots of things — like adaptogenic fizzy drinks, CBD toilet paper and even Goop’s $90 six-pack of fatigue fighting “vitamins.” That isn’t to say that our intinerary today will be 100% cost-free, but we’ll pass on luxury “wellness” items for today.

(Real talk, if $80 crystal-infused water makes you feel good, there’s no judgement here—I too have paid unspeakable amounts in the name of wellness).

Long Beach, here’s your anti-social, self-care itinerary:

Does this look like its in Long Beach to you? Well it is. It’s the El Dorado Nature Center. Photo courtesy of Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine.

For me personally, a successful self-care day in Long Beach has three main ingredients: nature, tasty treats and sight-seeing. First, we begin with nature.

Here are my top five nature and park picks in and around Long Beach:

  • El Dorado Nature Center – Long Beach’s largest park will make you feel like you’ve gotten lost in the woods. This 105-acre park includes two miles of dirt (and tree-shaded) trails, one paved trail and two lakes. Plus, you might even spot some bunnies.
  • Colorado Lagoon – When I need a few hours to recharge and be alone with my thoughts (or with my blaring headphones), I go to the Colorado Lagoon. It has a short trail (take your time) that loops around and over the water. You can also swim here. I usually just take the dirt trail around to the non-swimming area, where you can find a grassy knoll and some towering trees to find shade beneath.
Ceren Sahin, 31, walks Mira, 6, across the bridge at Colorado Lagoon on a cool fall evening Thursday, Nov. 4, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.
  • Ranchos Palos Verdes Coastal Trail – OK this one you will have to leave Long Beach for, but if you’re looking for a way to work up a sweat, this is my closest go-to hike. The 1.9 mile trail runs along the ocean, with many points to hike down to a sandy beach.
  • The Beach Path – This is one of those obvious places in Long Beach that we’re so lucky to have, but I often have been guilty of taking it for granted. You can walk, run, skate, rollerblade, bike, skip or hop down this 4 mile trail. Lately, I’ve been walking this path from around Belmont Shore to Downtown and rewarding myself with a tasty treat along the path at Gaucho Beach. Plus, they have happy hour (read more here).
A man rides an e-bike along the Long Beach bike path at Granada Beach Tuesday, July 11, 2023. Photo by Brandon Richardson.
  • Willmore/Drake Park – This sort of bleeds into that sight-seeing ingredient I mentioned above. It’s more of a historic neighborhood crawl that ends with chilling in a beautiful park (with a view). Take yourself on a short walk around the park, making a stop at the Bembridge House (953 Park Circle Drive). It’s an 18-room Queen Anne home that was built in 1906. You can book a tour (it’s only $5) of the old residence here.

And now we take a break for a tasty treat.

  • First, I’ll share my greasy (but oh so comforting) pick of the week:
Pizza from Thai Curry Pizza & Thai Food. Photo by Kat Schuster

Look closely at that pizza, dear indulgent reader. What do you see? (Nevermind the decorative squash in the corner) This is the Thai Curry Tofu Pizza from Thai Curry Pizza & Thai Food in Long Beach of course. It has Thai curry sauce and is topped with basil, onion and bell pepper. You can get it with tofu or chicken. Pro-tip: Ask for a side of the sauce to dip it in. I don’t know how you define self-care, but this Thai pie is my ultimate comfort.

Everything else I’ve tried on their menu is delicious, reasonably priced and comes in massive portions. Next to their pizzas, their Tom Kha soup has a special (and spicy) place in my heart.

  • For something healthy to scratch that wellness itch, try Salud. This juice bar has two great locations in Long Beach—Retro Row and Belmont Shore. Both of these areas are walkable and offer great options for sight-seeing and window shopping. I like to grab an Up the Anti on my way to the Colorado Lagoon. It’s beet, lime, oil of oregano, cayenne and tumeric. If you need a Downtown juice suggestion, try Rainbow Juices. There, I get the Boheimian, before I take a walk up the Promenade. It’s orange, carrot, lemon, ginger and tumeric.

Onto sight-seeing.

Two places that tend to be (mostly) quiet, reflective spaces are museums and libraries. Here are my two picks this week:

  • Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)– This museum is beautiful and holds installations that can really get your thoughts and emotions going in a positive direction. I prefer to go solo. Right now, they have five exhibitions. Check them out here. Pro-tip: This museum is free on Sundays.
Visitors view artwork from migrant children at Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.
  • Billie Jean King Main Library – This massive, brand new library in Downtown is simply stunning. Whether you’re there to actually check out a book or just take a seat at a row of chairs overlooking Lincoln Park, you’ll have a good time just wandering around this expanisve facility. Plus, it’s free.

Kat Schuster is the assistant editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her at [email protected].