Hangouts around the Beach
When classes let out and homework is done, college students like to get social. Whether keeping active during the day or exploring the nocturnal side, there are plenty of places around campus to get out, kick back or party it up.
Long Beach is well known as an active city where the arts thrive. There is no better way to appreciate all Long Beach has to offer than by getting active in a variety of ways and supporting local artists and producers.
Rock Climbing at Hangar 18
If you’re tired of the crowded gym full of the same beef-heads, free weights and dreaded cardio machines, try a different type of workout — one that you’ll barely realize as exercise.
Hangar 18 is a rock climbing gym in Signal Hill, Calif., that is a great place to work out and build your skills.
It’s an adrenaline rush with the risk of a big fall if you try some bouldering, ranging from the simple V0 to V9 difficulty ratings, which seem to be only Spiderman-friendly. Just be sure to get chalked up so you don’t slip.
Once you learn to belay, you have your choice of top-rope ranging from the beginner rating of 5’4 to the more advanced of 5’11.
The regulars, who can be found climbing along the holds on the ceiling, are always willing to offer tips to the beginner. There are also helpful charts and color-coded rock walls available to help train the aspiring climber to get outside once they are strong enough.
Weights are available for warming up before the climb, and climbers can cool off and stretch out afterwards with a yoga class, which are offered multiple times on weekdays.
The gym offers multiple deals, including 50 percent off any membership, class or day pass for ladies on the first and third Fridays of the month. Otherwise, the discount price for students is $28 a month for membership including rentals, classes, yoga and unlimited climbing at any of the five Hangar 18 gyms in Southern California. As it turns out, the month membership is a couple bucks less than the adult day pass, so you’ll have to come back for more.
Yogalution Studio & Yoga on the Bluff
Free yoga on the bluff, overlooking the ocean — it doesn’t get much better than that. Yogalution, a recently opened donation-based yoga studio in Long Beach, offers classes in the studio and on the bluff at Junipero Avenue and Ocean Boulevard, seven days a week.
Whether it’s your first yoga class or you’ve been practicing for years, you’ll find yourself at home in the growing yoga community of Long Beach. With a different instructor every day, one can surely find a philosophy that resonates with them. Dharma Shakti, co-owner of Yogalution, teaches classes on the bluff every Saturday and Sunday morning at 11 a.m. Shakti began teaching donation-based yoga six years ago and said the idea stemmed from hearing friends talk about wanting to take yoga classes but not being able to afford the high prices that most studios charge.
If you’re searching for a new community to join or are simply interested in trying yoga for the first time, look no further. The instructor will have a donation box and only asks that you give what you can. You’ll need to bring a yoga mat, towel or blanket and snag yourself a spot on the grass. Kids and pets are welcome. Yoga on the bluff is offered every day at 11 a.m. and Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. For more information about Yogalution or for the class schedule in the studio, visit yogalutionmovement.com.
Velo Caravan with the Bicycle Stand
Long Beach is known as a bike-friendly city, and every few weeks, the guys and girls at The Bicycle Stand take full advantage of it.
Located on E. Broadway Street, the vintage bike shop organizes its Velo Caravan on the last Saturday of each month, taking a group of bikers on routes throughout the city. The group meets at 10 a.m. at Lord Windsor Roasters on the corner of Third Street and Cerritos Avenue, and anyone who enjoys a casual morning bike ride is welcome to join.
The two-hour ride typically follows a 12- to 15-mile route, sometimes along the bike paths that stream throughout Long Beach and other times along the sand of the beach. Riders tend to bring along vintage-styled bikes, but mountain bikes and commuter bikes are welcome as well.
The monthly rides are free, but it’s good to bring a couple bucks, as each Velo Caravan makes mid-ride stops at locations ranging anywhere from Cha For Tea to a car show.
If you’re looking to meet some fellow cyclists or get a look at some old bicycles, head for Lord Windsor at 10 a.m. on Sept. 28, The Bicycle Stand’s next Velo Caravan. There’s no telling where the Velo Caravan will take you in Long Beach, so just go along for the ride.
Fresh Produce at the Farmer’s Market
Forget, for a moment, that farmers markets are the hip new trendy activity to pursue on weekends. Now, take a Sunday afternoon venture to where E. Marine Drive and Second Street meet, overlooking the Alamitos Bay Marina. There you’ll find an endless row of diverse delectables as far as the eye can see.
Entering from the south end of the parking lot, you won’t know which way to look as you walk through aisles of the handmade goods and art pieces of all shapes and sizes on display. Take a gander at artists painting or feel the benefits of an all-natural sugar scrub firsthand. Marvel at the aroma of the region’s most exotic flowers.
If you get hungry, you’ll be able to take a pit stop to please your palette with shaved ice at the halfway point, and if you head further to the northern end of the market, you’ll find a wide variety of food products and flavors from all over the world. We’re talking the gamut, from locally caught fish to fresh-picked produce, goat cheese and olive oils to kettle corn and baklava.
Are you salivating yet? Now, don’t expect to pay wholesale prices for these goods. The prices are at or around standard grocery prices, but you’re paying for the freshness and personable service that the vendors provide. However, even with an empty wallet and stomach, there are plenty of free samples to fill you to capacity.
In the end, if you walk away with a grocery bag or two of goods, you can have the peace of mind that you’ve just contributed to the livelihood of local farmers, bakers, craftspeople and diverse specialists who fill the aisles of the Long Beach Southeast Farmers Market every Sunday.
Art Walk on Atlanta Avenue
To get a feel for the community of Long Beach, head over to Atlantic Avenue’s First Friday celebration, where local vendors, craftspeople and artists set up shop from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. out front of boutiques, restaurants and cafes. According to www.firstfridayslongbeach.com, First Fridays began in 2006 at Chroma Glass Designs when the owner Krista Leaders figured that an inexpensive way to advertise her shop was to display local artists’ work in her storefront. Since then the event has grown, providing a way for local businesses to shine in an enjoyable atmosphere.
Walking down the street, one gets the feeling of positive community involvement, where everyone plays a role in the evening. Long Beach natives, as well as tourists peruse the event enjoying live music from various musical groups who perform throughout the night. Each First Friday event is themed, guaranteeing an eventful evening. Even Long Beach’s 7 James Johnson and Al Austin set up a booth to meet and greet attendees.
Other booths hand out informational flyers about healthy lifestyles, upcoming farmers markets, and even some promoting biodiversity in the city. After stores begin to close down for the evening, “First Friday After Hours” begins, where specified restaurants and businesses like Nino’s Italian restaurant, The Factory and Wilmore go late into the night providing food, drinks and music. If you don’t know where to start when you get to the event, flag down the Big Red Bus at designated stops and it will take you from venue to venue, according to the First Fridays website, www.firstfridayslongbeach.com. For more business information or restaurant recommendations on First Fridays, stop by Bella Cosa, located on 3803 Atlantic, from 6:30pm – 8:00pm while you’re down there.
The sun goes down, and it’s time to go out. Depending on how you like to spend your weekend evenings, there are multiple venues downtown and around campus where you can grab a coffee and study, have a few drinks or watch a show.
Music, Trivia and Drinks at Alex’s Bar
If clubbing with the boys, repetitive house music and expensive drinks are your scene, then Alex’s Bar isn’t for you. This isn’t your momma’s disco — it’s a punk bar.
Don’t let the glowing “Welcome to Hell” sign fool you, though. Alex’s Bar is a great chill spot.
“Rock ‘n’ roll for where the sewer meets the sea,” is how Alex Hernandez describes his bar.
With red light washing over the red-painted walls, Alex’s is edgy as a rock bar should be. The joint sports an eclectic collection of Alex’s swag: a collection of skateboards hangs from the ceiling, a statue of a skeleton band poses over a photo booth, and a man-sized portrait of a Lucha Libre wrestler beautifies the wall next to the multifunctional stage.
Monday Trivia Night, Tuesday Karaoke, and drink specials like dollar Olympia beer keep Alex’s alive. A sports game is always on, but the pulse of Alex’s is the live music played almost all week long. In the past, the bar has seen appearances by The Offspring, The Adolescents and Dave Grohl.
Although they don’t brew their own beer, Alex’s has handpicked 20 beers that are offered on draft. They don’t have a kitchen, but if you’re hungry during a show, they often charter out a food truck or two.
Bottom line, if you’re looking for a bar with heaps of character, killer hard-hitting live music and service from some of the kindest people in Long Beach, then Alex’s Bar is for you.
The Royal Cup Cafe
This little café that sits on the corner of Redondo Avenue and 10th Street can easily be bypassed. What seems like a little hole-in-the-wall is actually an amazing space filled with funky, mismatched antique couches and big plush armchairs, perfect for cozying up with a good book.
There are tables and chairs scattered throughout, and the walls are adorned with art from local artists in a number of different mediums. The hanging lanterns provide a nice, warm ambient light, and the music gives off a relaxing vibe.
Not to mention, the food and drink menu offers a fresh selection of breakfast and lunch items ranging from breakfast bagels to salads and paninis, as well as an assortment of coffee and teas. The lattes are topped with fresh whipped cream, and the passion fruit tea served in a mason jar is reminiscent of something one would find at grandma’s house. The Royal Cup Café is definitely a hidden gem in the City of Long Beach, and students who haven’t been there must check it out the next time they’re looking for a place to study, eat or simply hang out. For the full menu and hours, visit http://royalcupcafe.com.
Golden Age of Cinema at the Art Theatre
Film enthusiasts and creative souls should all head on down to Fourth Street and Cherry Avenue to check out the Art Theatre in Long Beach. The theatre frequently hosts unconventional and unique events thanks to non-profit organizations like The Long Beach Cinematheque and innovative Long Beach locals like Logan Crow. There is almost always something brewing at the theatre, ranging from its weekly Saturday midnight shenanigans with the Long Beach Rocky Horror troupe, shadow-casting the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” musical, to showcasing vintage films like “Dance Craze” and fun Q-and-A’s with film directors afterward.
The theatre is known to host a myriad of films considered B-rated. Some of the films shown that have garnered the most attendees include “Forbidden Zone” with director Richard Elfman and the music documentary “Filmage: A Story of the Descendents/ALL.”
The Art Theatre also offers a conventional movie experience, showing popular and classic films like “The Great Gatsby” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Prices for all events vary and usually range from $10 to $20. Subscribe to the theatre’s mailing list or check its Facebook page to be kept in the loop of what exciting film event will be showcased next.
Salsa Dancing at PCH Club
Immediately upon entering PCH club, you know it’s the place to be. Monday and Thursday nights, it’s a great way to punctuate your hectic week by letting loose and connecting with others through social dance.
PCH club is catered for experienced Salsa dancers as well as the complete beginner- on the same night. Get there at eight; leave a couple hours before the sun comes up.
During the first two hours of the evening, Salsa and Bachata classes are offered for both beginners and advanced, all for five bucks. That five dollar bill will last you far beyond the classes, however, and you can share your new skills with other dancers on the floor for the rest of the night to a groovy latin playlist.
You can either go to brush up on your skills in the classes offered, or have a drink and share time with friends and new acquaintances either on the dance floor, the couches or the pool tables in the back corner. Go there on your birthday for special treatment and a chance to dance with all of the guys- or girls- in the room one by one during a Latin version of the birthday song.
Veterans will ask you to dance, and if you embarrass yourself they’ll gladly slow down and help you, and eventually you’ll be acquainted with the many styles that Long Beach’s Salsa aficionados have to offer. When you finish, you’ll be dizzy and ready to come back for more.
Beers at the Congregation Ale House
Of the dozens of bars and brew houses that line the streets of downtown Long Beach, there is one specific beer haven that’s uniquely appealing to the most devout beer drinker.
The Congregation Ale House, located on Broadway between Pine Ave. and Long Beach Blvd. near Promenade Square, is a Catholic Church-themed gastropub that is intended to group together patrons who aren’t necessarily religious, but drink beer religiously.
The cathedral-like pub specializes in European-style craft ales and lagers, with a large number of Belgian imports that are listed and organized by beer style in Congregation’s “Book of Beers”.
What sets Congregation apart from downtown’s numerous other bars is the affordability of its obscure craft beer selection and food menu. The low-price menu offers sandwiches and exotic sausages, catering to the neighborhood’s young crowd while holding up to its Romanesque theme.
All congregation-goers are invited to attend “Mass” at 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Sunday through Thursday, which is the pub’s version of happy hour. Beer-drinking zealots and locals typically flood the place during this time, as drinks and appetizers are discounted.
If metered parking isn’t available in front of the building, the craft beer faithful can take the Metro, bike or barhop their way to Congregation for a warm pretzel and “confession cocktail” before concluding service with a Belgian waffle for dessert.
For those heretics that avoid beer, Congregation Ale House is still a fun place to check out for its jukebox of music artists ranging from oldies to pop hits, two television sets flashing sports events and the outside patio used for congregating.
The downtown Long Beach Congregation chapter, which is the original location of the three-pub chain that also includes Azusa and Pasadena, offers a location that is easy to access from all directions.