Naples Island in Long Beach, located in the middle of Alamitos Bay, was the brainchild of Arthur Parson, who wanted to create a romantic spot that resembled Italy. He dug canals and built cozy cottage homes on the water. There is a park in the center of the island and a small beach encircling most of it. The most charming part of the island is the gondola rides that can be taken through the canals.
Inspired by Tokyo's Imperial Gardens, the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden opened its doors in 1981 and is a part of the California State University. The funds were donated by its namesake's widow whose love for gardens resulted in the building of this place. Dotted with trees like the Japanese black pines, pink cloud cherry, fern pines, saucer magnolias and Chinese flame trees, this serene garden is a sight to behold. A koi pond with a bridge and fish, garden art, pagoda, tea-house, fountains and a zig-zag bridge complete the beautiful landscape. The garden is a much favored spot for weddings.
The perfect thing to do on a bright sunny day is to head to Rancho Los Alamitos. Admire the 19th Century ranch house that houses an interesting museum about local history, then explore the surrounding area. Make sure you stop by the barn and check out the livestock, which is often the highlight for children. You can also stroll through the beautiful garden. The gift shop has interesting things to take back home too. Overall, a historical place with lots of education, along with fun thrown in.
Take the kids for a day of outdoor education to the El Dorado Nature Center where you can learn all about the local flora on one of their Wildflower Getaways; a nature walk for those aged 10 and older. You can also take advantage of the campfire grounds, where many families spend their Friday nights sharing stories and roasting marshmallows. You must call ahead and register for both of these activities. Or just sit by one of the lakes during a sunny day and breathe in the fresh air.
The Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) is the place to come if you're interested in Latin American art. It displays a number of works which provide a deeper insight into Latin American culture. The museum also provides a wide range of entertainment, hosting rotating exhibitions and cultural events on the premises. Educational programs are also held here.
Located on five acres of waterfront property along Long Beach harbor, the Aquarium of the Pacific presents marvels of the deep blue to locals and tourists alike. As its name implies, the aquarium features marine life from the Pacific in which more than 47 exhibits display over 550 species. The aquarium is beautifully designed, with each species displayed according to the part of the Pacific it calls home. The Kids' Cove provides a place for children to interact with manta rays while the jellyfish exhibits are some of the best outside of the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Come and view this fine collection of artwork by both California artists and those with a national reputation. You will find here art to please every taste and requirement. The exhibitions are sponsored by the Los Angeles County Board. Tours can be arranged if you call ahead. Admission: Free.