A Tale of Two Long Beaches


Connecting a California Metropolis with a Small Washington Coast Community
By Mary Farah


Travel blogger Mary Lansing-Farah connects California’s metropolitan Long Beach with Washington state’s small coastal community of Long Beach on Big Blend Radio.


What’s in a name? Well, for the West Coast, Long Beach seems to accurately describe two popular beach side communities in California and Washington, respectively. Being a native to Los Angeles, I grew up visiting family in California’s Long Beach, which always made it feel like my second home. When I decided it was time to move out on my own into the world, I knew Long Beach was calling me as it had everything one could want: beach, food, shopping, art. Despite its population of about 500,000, Long Beach is incredibly tight-knit among its diverse neighborhoods and districts.

Fast forward to last summer, and you can imagine my surprise to discover that the Pacific Northwest is also home to a famous Long Beach. Just over the Astoria–Megler Bridge in Oregon, you’ll cross the state border and soon find yourself in Long Beach, Washington.

At first glance, this Long Beach may look like a bit of a sleeper town. Yet, don’t let the minimal stop lights and lack of big brand super stores fool you. It may be a community of under 10,000 year-round, but that doesn’t stop the city from offering delicious dining, hiking, lodging, annual festivals and plenty of opportunities to fly some kites.

Bridges are the gateway to the “Long” Cities
As I made my way into Washington, I admit I felt a little intimidated as I approached the Astoria–Megler Bridge in Astoria, Oregon. Operating since 1966, the bridge is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America and comes in at over 21,000 feet in length. Absolutely stunning for photographs, I could not see just where this bridge would end. It brought to mind the similar “jitters” that come over me as I drive on the Vincent Thomas Bridge into Long Beach, California. Another gorgeous photo opportunity, these bridges are your gateway to each city and provide stunning views of the ocean.

Cozy up at a Bed and Breakfast in Either City
One of the reasons I was eager to visit the Northern Long Beach was to experience the beloved Boreas Inn. Managed for nearly 25 years by Susie Goldsmith and Bill Verner, Boreas Inn offers guests the opportunity to truly unwind while still feeling at home. Susie and Bill have worked tirelessly through the years to bring together the best of both worlds with features like a King bed with feather comforter, electric fireplace and hot jetted tubs in select suites.

The Boreas Inn makes it easy to want to kick back and enjoy the common areas of the house during your stay. In the pantry, choose from a vast selection of teas to accompany a book (also a large collection) as you curl up in either the living room or out on the patio. A stereo, CD’s and piano are also on hand if you’re feeling musically inclined.

When the morning rolls around, start your day with a 5 to 10 minute walk to the beach. Although, don’t plan to walk the entire stretch. This is Washington’s Long Beach since they boast one of the longest uninterrupted runs of a beach in the country. Coming in at 28 miles, enjoy some of it as you can access the ocean from the Boreas’ backyard. When you return, get ready to indulge in a breakfast feast made from scratch daily from Susie and Bill. Whatever you might be craving, or if you have dietary restrictions, just let your innkeepers know and they’re happy to accommodate.

While back in California, The Beachrunner’s Inn brings to mind many of the same personal touches you’ll find at Boreas Inn. Located just 5 minutes from the beach (sound familiar?), Beachrunner’s Inn offers guest rooms and private baths in a Craftsman home built in 1913. Guests can rise early for that first cup of coffee to take on a beach stroll, or hang out in their garden. If you want to catch a few extra zzz’s, an extended continental breakfast with a hot entree will await you as you greet the day.

Go Fly a Kite
One thing is certain in both these sea sides: It gets very windy. So much that in Washington, Long Beach is home to the Annual State International Kite Festival. While several events lead up to this finale, the weeklong event is held in August and welcomes over 100,000 kite enthusiasts from around the globe. Flying strong for over 20 years, one of the most beloved parts of the festival is the poster contest. Local artists submit their portrait for a chance to be the face of the festival. The winning posters from each festival are on display at the World Kite Museum.

Open throughout the year and daily during the summer, elaborate kites are celebrated from all around the world at the Kite Museum. History buffs will appreciate the collection of World War 2 kites and don’t miss the beauties from celebrations in Japan and China.

Southern Long Beach is no stranger to kite flying, either. The beach mecca is a hub for the very popular sport of kite-boarding and hosts numerous local and regional competitions. Long Beach has the only beach in Los Angeles County designated for teaching beginners the sport. Several businesses offer kite-boarding lessons and supply equipment.

AWE365, an online magazine for the world of kite boarding, lists Long Beach in its Top 10 Best spots for kite boarding in the USA. Between the beach and over 70 municipal parks at your fingertips, there’s also plenty of places to fly a kite on one of their many sunny, breezy days.

Enjoy the Food and Wine
When I lived in Long Beach, the East Village’s District Wine Bar was a favorite of mine. Owners, Mark and Angela Dunton, opened the bar and bistro in the middle of the recession we faced about 10 years back. While many thought they were insane, the Duntons knew a place to gather and celebrate was just what Long Beach needed.

Enjoy something from their well sized menu, including soups, salads and flat breads. Pair your choice with one of the numerous wines and beers they serve, or enjoy an espresso drink or French Press.

District Wine came to mind when I enjoyed lunch and a drink at the Shelburne Hotel, Washington’s oldest operating hotel, and in Long Beach. While one establishment may be much newer, the values feel the same. Visitors can come for a stay at the hotel, or simply stop by to enjoy lunch, dinner, drinks or happy hour. Much like at District Wine.

Other fantastic options for dining up north include the Depot Restaurant. I was thrilled to enjoy my first meal in town at this outstanding eatery that resides in what was built as a train depot in 1888. Since taking over the restaurant in 2003, Chef Michael Lalewicz and his wife, Nancy Gorsche, have created a menu for the Depot that’s not for the elite, yet not just burgers and chicken nuggets. With the water outside your door (literally) in Long Beach, that means chefs have the advantage of serving up some of the freshest seafood around. A dish you must not leave without trying at the Depot? Chef Michael’s’ Oysters ‘Scargot, a cleverly titled appetizer dish of local oysters in a decadent garlic lime butter. Quick-broiled in an escargot pan, this plate appeals to the adventurous and the skeptical. How can you go wrong with garlic lime butter?

Meanwhile in South Long Beach, after your drinks and light bites back at District Wine Bar, check out the tantalizing array of foodie options. In one 8-block area of the downtown waterfront, you will discover more than 130 quality restaurants serving everything from hot dogs to haute cuisine. Food choices range from regions across the USA to nearly every continent on the globe.

Fruits and Harvests in Both Communities
Something that has stayed with me from my visit to Washington’s Long Beach was my morning visiting the cranberry bogs and farms. The town is one of the communities that even provide the tart berries to Ocean Spray. The humble beginnings for cranberry farmers in the area dates back to 1877. During that era, cranberries were only looked at during the holidays and growing them was considered an East Coast “thing,” yet farmers and settlers knew of the potential for growing in Long Beach. One of the best climates in the world for harvesting cranberries is in Washington. Thus, one of the town’s livelihoods relies on the cranberry harvest season.

While California does not have as many ties to cranberries, their Long Beach is committed to making great strides in the locally sourced, farm to table food movement. Their Office of Sustainability has numerous programs to assist residents and businesses in creating edible gardens, and there’s a number of city-owned plots around Long Beach where residents can “farm” their own garden. Many local restaurants use locally sourced fruits and vegetables in their menus. The city also has a program to provide residents with fruit trees to plant in their yards.

Visit both Long Beaches
While I’ve grown up in Long Beach, California, Washington’s Long Beach has captured my heart just the same. Plan your visit to both of these beautiful cities that manage to have a lot in common by visiting www.visitlongbeachpeninsula.com and www.visitlongbeach.com.  Summer is upon us, and the beach and kites are awaiting you.

Mary is a Los Angeles native who has been writing on her popular travel and lifestyle blog, www.AlongComesMaryBlog.com, since 2012. In addition to Along Comes Mary, she also contributes to a variety of online magazines including Local and FWT. Mary loves to highlight all a destination has to offer, while also offering resources for where to find the best gluten-free dining. Mary is also on the board of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association.

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

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About the Author:

Mary is a Los Angeles native who has been writing on her popular travel and lifestyle blog, www.AlongComesMaryBlog.com, since 2012.

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