The AquaLink cruises past the Queen Mary on its way the Alamitos Bay in Long Beach Thursday, June 8, 2022. The water taxi has a bar on board is only $5 for a 40-minute ride across town. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

There are two types of people who live in Long Beach—those who love the Grand Prix and those who don’t.

All right, that might be an exaggeration, but whether you’ve lived in Long Beach for a handful of years or a handful of decades, you’ve likely formed some opinion of the annual race weekend.

Perhaps you’ve driven by the shoreline and through Downtown over the past few months and witnessed the gradual construction of 14 grandstands, or the assembly of 2,400 concrete blocks to enclose a 1.97-mile, 11-turn race track. During the April 14-16 weekend, some 180,000 race fans are expected to file into Long Beach for the ear-splitting 48th year of the Grand Prix.

If this incoming experience doesn’t sound like an ideal way to spend a spring weekend, we might be able to help. Below, you’ll find a list of ways to escape without skipping town.

From Belmont Shore to the Westside, there’s a chance you might hear even distant rumblings of the race weekend. But if you’re a Downtown resident and you aren’t keen on the Grand Prix, you may desperately need this list.

For those who do enjoy speedy vehicle activities, please read our thorough coverage of such. For those who don’t, keep reading.

Tour the long-shuttered Queen Mary
Queen Mary Commodore Everette Hoard gives a tour of the historic ocean liner to the first guests aboard in two and a half years Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Two weeks ahead of the race weekend, the city of Long Beach did you a solid and reopened tours on April 1. Three different $10 one-hour tours became available to book: Glory Days Historical, Haunted Encounters and Steam & Steal.

We can’t guarantee that the sounds of revving engines across the water won’t reach your ears, but we can hope that the escapism of boarding the long-darkened 93-year-old ship will be enough.

Try LB’s only fixed escape room 

If tours of the Queen Mary are sold out by the time you read this, there is an escape room in Long Beach that provides something of a simulation of the ship, but you’ll have to do some work. (FYI, an escape room is a place where you pay money to be locked inside until you can solve a series of puzzles to get out.)

In “The Queen”, within Escape Long Beach, on 3926 E. Broadway, you will become a paranormal investigator tasked with unraveling the mystery behind strange disappearances and a tip from a local psychic who believes the ghost of Queen Mary is collecting souls to sail her ship again.

If this one doesn’t sound appealing, you can become an FBI agent in “The Lab” escape room to break into the lab of an environmental science student who is planning on deploying a bioweapon that would wipe out California.

Each puzzle takes about 55 minutes, and ticket prices go by group size, from $118 total for two to $35 per person for groups of four. More information here.

Other than a newer mobile escape room at Shoreline Village, Escape Long Beach, which opened in 2019, happens to be the only brick-and-mortar offering such puzzles in the city.

Pro-tip: There’s a fantastic bar (and restaurant) across the street, Panxa. They have happy-hour on Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Ride the city’s boozy water taxi 

Have you ever taken a ride on Long Beach Transit’s AquaLink? While many might want to ride the water taxi from Alamitos Bay and be dropped off near the race front, you can also hop on the boat to get out of dodge.

For $5, you can hop on the water taxi in Shoreline Village at Aquarium Dock 4, soak up a 40-minute scenic ocean voyage (which has a bar) and get dropped off at Alamitos Bay Landing Berth 3, which happens to be right in front of Ballast Point Brewing. Nearby, there’s also Malainey’s Grill & One Hell of an Irish Bar (that’s actually its name) and Boathouse on the Bay.

Book a boat to Catalina
People chat on the beach on Catalina Island, Friday, May 7, 2021. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

OK, I know this list was only supposed to suggest activities you could do without leaving town, but if there was ever going to be an exception, it was going to be one that wouldn’t include contending with congested weekend freeways.

Depending on what time you leave, you may have to wade through some of the Grand Prix madness to get to Catalina Landing in Downtown, but once you’re on that boat, you’ll be one hour closer to immersing yourself in Catalina’s mountainous topography, sandy beaches and bison-filled backcountry.

You can hop over to the island for $77, round-trip, for adults and $61.50 for children 2 to 11 years old. Those under 2 can ride for free. More information here.

Cut a rug, catch a show
Closed for nearly eight months, Alex’s Bar reopened for outdoor dining with a soft opening Friday, Oct. 23 and their grand opening Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Photo by Cheantay Jensen.

Swaths of Grand Prix heads will attend Fiesta Friday, where DJ Boombox Cartel is headlining; and the Saturday night stage, where Kings of Chaos will draw a huge crowd. But there are plenty of other shows and DJ nights you can attend in Long Beach that weekend.

Here is a list of some musical goings-on from April 14-16 in Long Beach:

    • April 14 – The Gregg Turner Group, Roman’s Weirdo’s and The Unclaimed will play at Alex’s Bar. Doors are at 8 pm. Tickets are $19.32.
    • April 14 – Club Soulside, a ‘60s soul and reggae dance party with six DJs, is being held at DiPiazza. Doors are at 8 p.m. $5 before 10:30 p.m. and $10 after.
    • April 14, 15 – Formula 562, a two-day house, disco and techno dance party at Secret Service Long Beach, will feature DJs, vendors and Mario Kart from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. RSVP here.
    • April 15 – Intangible You, a jazz and Latin duo, will perform at Long Beach Beer Lab at 4 p.m. on. No cover.
    • April 15 – Bourbon Jones will perform along with special guest Jay Buchanan’s Holy Spirits at Alex’s Bar. Doors are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27.81.
    • April 16 – The Rhythm Shakers will headline Alex’s Bar with special guests Flame Trick Subs, The Reckless Ones and Stormhouse. Doors are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $19.32.

Pro-tip: The Grasshopper, Cafe Sevilla, Que Sera, Blind Donkey, The Bamboo Club and The Brit, to name a few, are bars that will be dancing destinations with DJs that weekend.

Weekending on a budget
Visitors enjoy beautiful views of Long Beach from Signal Hill’s Hilltop Park. Staff photo.

Here are a few more recommendations—all of them free—to escape the raucous race weekend.

  • Have a picnic at Signal Hill’s Hilltop Park, where you can take in panoramic views of the city.
  • Visit the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, which offers free entry Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. RSVP here.
  • The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) is free on Sunday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Current exhibitions include: Yolanda Gonzalez’s “Metamorphosis: The Evolution Of Visions And Dreams” and “Fernando Botero: El Maestro.”
  • On Friday, April 14, Brett Fromson is performing live at Beachwood Brewing & Distilling in Bixby Knolls at 7 p.m.
  • On Saturday, April 15, a piano bar, all-request night with Laura Wiley will be hosted at Beachwood Brewing & Distilling in Bixby Knolls from 6 p.m to 9 p.m.
  • On Sunday, April 16, Bel Canto Books and KUBO LB will host “I’D RATHER BE LIGHTNING,” a book launch featuring Nancy Lynée Woo at 4 p.m.
  • On Friday, April 14, Vine, the wine bar on Retro Row, will host a free show at 8 p.m. with bands Belted Sweater, Ultra Deluxe (from New York City) and Grime Time and the TimeMachine. Then on Saturday, April 15, Vine will host another free show with Best Move and Lampland at 7p.m.