California : Safety by City
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- Long Beach
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- Union City
- West Covina
Whether you are just staying a night on your way to a cruise, attending a convention, or planning a week-long Southern California getaway, Long Beach has a little something for everyone.
This isn’t the Long Beach that Snoop Dogg rapped about in the 90s.
With revitalization, a crackdown on crime, and an expanding list of events and activities while luring in conventions, Long Beach is ripe with outdoor activities and plenty to eat, see and shop.
Long Beach is due south of Los Angeles and sits along the (long, wide) beaches, which are so impressive it actually led to the founding fathers changing the name from Wilmore City to Long Beach.
There are seven beaches to explore in Long Beach, and some are geared towards families, while others are a little more adventurous for young adults or single people.
Heck, there’s even a beach for your dog!
Two things stand out on the Long Beach skyline – the Queen Mary ship that is open for tours and a giant white canopy that holds the cruise terminal.
I went on a cruise to Mexico out of Long Beach, and it was a seamless experience with so many helpful people.
One thing to note about the beaches here, because I’ve also visited this area as a tourist for a weekend vacation – you’ll see a lot of docking and shipping boats heading into the Port of Long Beach.
It doesn’t limit the fun you can have at the beach, but there aren’t those “views for miles” of clear ocean sky all the time.
Long Beach is also 30 minutes from Disneyland and just 10 miles from the start of the glamourous Orange County with its abundant beaches and attractions.
Warnings & Dangers in Long Beach
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
Visiting Long Beach still comes with a medium risk, but it's a much lower medium risk than it used to be - if that makes sense. If not, it just means the risk is getting lower, and if current crime trends continue, we could see a day when there is a low risk.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Download the Moovit App to see the routes available on the LBT public transportation system, where you can ride a bus or a water taxi. There's a free Passport shuttle to get people around downtown, too. Taxis and rideshares are plentiful. You can also rent a car or bicycle to get around. Hey, if you want to go all out - you can even rent a limo! All options come with low risk, but use your best judgment at some of the bus stops outside the tourist areas.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here with a lot of people coming and going. Walking through busy streets, down convention hallways, or through crowded shopping districts, it's easy to lose focus on your purse or wallet. One trick is to put a thick rubber band around a wallet, so there's friction if someone tries to slip it out of your pocket.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
Southern California has an earthquake risk, and it's not uncommon to feel small quakes from time to time. The bigger threat would be the "Big One," but there's no way to predict that. Wildfires are another big threat, along with mudslides on wildfire-devastated land. It rarely storms or rains here, but when it does, you'd think the drivers in California had never seen rain with the way they drive. Even a fast shower can cause traffic chaos to turn into traffic mayhem. On an average day, there's a low risk, but during any weather or wildfire event, that risk is much higher.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
The robbery rate is nearly twice the national average, but it's a great improvement from the high in 2011 when the rate was nearly four times the national average. It's still a medium risk, but a much lower one.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here as it's part of the massive Los Angeles area, and an attack on the port here could be devastating for the U.S. economy. The risk comes with a lot of security and protection from Homeland Security, Border Patrol, the FBI, and local law enforcement.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
Watch out for rental scams if you're looking to stay in a condo or house. Be sure the person is the legitimate landlord by asking for a rental license. Never wire money ahead of time to secure a reservation. Due to a rash of new scams in 2022, the city issued a news release with an overview of what to watch out for, but most of those were geared toward tourists. Since this is a large tourist area, I'd assume anyone trying to offer you guidance or help is looking to get something out of you. Proceed with medium risk and a lot of cynicism.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
Women have the same medium risk as men, but be skeptical when you meet new people. If someone brings you a drink, kindly reject it since you didn't see it poured. If you meet someone new and you like them, nonchalantly take a photo of them on your phone - just in case. Avoid going to private hotel rooms or homes with people you have just met. Also, don't walk around alone at night.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance with requirements and a good explanation of how the utility keeps the water safe for more than half a million people.
Safest Places to Visit in Long Beach
Visitlongbeach.com is the official tourism website for the city.
You can read through the different neighborhoods and get a snapshot of all tourist attractions with valid links to ticket purchases.
The Queen Mary ocean liner sits in the port of Long Beach, where she was retired in 1967.
It was restored into a hotel and tourist attraction with amazing views of the water and fine dining inside.
As of fall 2022, the ship is once again being restored, so check to see if it’s open before you get too excited about tickets.
It was scheduled to re-open in October 2022 but was delayed for an indefinite amount of time.
Hopefully, it’s open by 2023.
Even just seeing her on the skyline is a trip well worth taking.
Down at The Pike Outlets, you can do some discount shopping with the bay in the distance.
Enjoy the Ferris wheel and an abundance of restaurants in Shoreline Village.
Near the harbor, you can book a whale-watching tour by Harbor Breeze Cruises.
This whole part of the city has a boardwalk feel and will take up a good half day or full day, depending on how much you take in.
At the East Waterfront, you’ll find much more of a beach vibe with water vehicles available for rent, and Bluff Park, which is great for sunrise or sunset strolls.
The Long Beach Museum of Art is also located here.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is a must-see, with more than 11,000 animals to explore and giant glass walls that put you face-first with some of the ocean’s coolest creatures.
It even has a place to pet sharks (safely).
One of the coolest historical places you’ll find isn’t in a traditional museum.
Los Alamitos is an inland property with several buildings that walk you through what life was like during the city’s founding days and up to the present day.
Check the schedule for cultural events throughout the year.
If you’re looking for family-friendly beaches, try Mother’s Beach, Peninsula, or Colorado Lagoon.
The most popular (aka crowded) beach is Granada Beach.
Bayshore is a popular beach for couples and singles looking to mix and mingle.
If you’re missing your pet during the trip, stop by Rosie’s Dog Beach.
Places to Avoid in Long Beach
In Long Beach, you really want to avoid going outside the areas built around tourism.
That includes Wilmington, Poly High, and the neighborhoods around the airport.
Long Beach is just 10 miles from the more dangerous Compton, so don’t drive too far north while you’re exploring.
Sticking close to the water is the best bet.
Before you get into the ocean water, even just walking ankle deep, call the health department to ask about water quality samples.
There can be a lot of pollution in the water.
That number is (562) 570-4132, and there’s also a color-coded chart on the Long Beach Health and Human Services website.
If it has rained within three days of your visit, don’t go in the water at all.
Storm runoff can make the water dangerous or unhealthy.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Long Beach
- The Long Beach Police Department has a full website section for Crime Prevention available in English and Spanish. It’s quite elaborate and includes any type of crime a tourist would face.
- Sign up for Alert Long Beach so you can get emergency notifications about any risks, hazards, or dangers happening during your visit.
- You can search the interactive crime map using the new Crime Incident Mapping Application on the police department’s website. For example, if you want to see how many car thefts happened near The Pike Outlets in the past month, you just enter those parameters, and dots will show up on the map. When you click on the dot, a summary of the crime will be displayed.
- Learn more about the Long Beach community through LBTV. The website is lbtv3.com. You can see a live stream or watch past episodes. This will help you get a better feel for the community before you visit.
- Check the curbs in Long Beach because the painted color will help tell you if you can park there or not. A yellow curb means you can load and unload only. White curbs are for taxis and rideshares, not any other vehicles. Green has a time limit of anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. A red curb means NO PARKING. Blue curbs are for vehicles with a disabled parking permit.
- The Passport Parking App is a contactless way to pay for parking. The first two hours in most parking areas are free, but after that, you can add money to the meter through the app without having to go back to your car. Be sure you don’t park in the cruise terminal parking lot.
- Long Beach Police post a daily blotter of all major incidents investigated that day. It’s a great way to see major crimes happening during your visit or check out what happened if you saw police lights the day before.
- If you see any graffiti during your visit, please call the Graffiti Hotline at (562) 570-2773. That number is answered 24/7. Police make a point to remove graffiti as soon as possible to stop gang messages communicated through vandalism.
- For those who choose to go swimming in the ocean water, shower immediately with anti-bacterial soap after you are finished. Don’t put on dry clothes and keep visiting places. If there happen to be any chemicals in the water, they could cause irritation if they sit on your skin for too long. I spent a weekend in Long Beach for a wedding and spent nearly 12 hours at the beach, but I refused to touch the water at all, but that’s just me.
- You can have all the Long Beach Police Department information from the website in the palm of your hand. Download Go LBPD from the app store.
So... How Safe Is Long Beach Really?
Long Beach isn’t getting much better, but it hasn’t been getting any worse over the past few years.
That is quite an accomplishment with the way violent crime and homicides are rising nationwide.
This is a much safer community than it was 20 years ago, but there are still gang and drug problems.
“While most major cities in our country experienced an increase in murders compared to 2020, the murder rate in Long Beach did not increase,” said Chief of Police Wally Hebeish.
“This is in large part due to the overwhelming efforts of our police officers and professional staff.
That being said, every murder is a tragedy, and one life lost to violent crime is one too many.
We will continue to work with city and community partners to provide public safety while also exploring the fundamental causes of violent crime.”
61% of the thefts that happened in Long Beach in 2020 were car break-ins.
With the cruise parking terminal and all the tourist traffic, thieves have a lot of opportunities to go through parking lots looking for unlocked cars or rolled-down windows.
42% of robberies happen in public spaces, so make sure you keep good situation awareness.
You’ll likely visit Long Beach without noticing any of this crime because tourist areas are highly patrolled and come with a lot of extra security cameras.
Use smart practices, like not leaving a bunch of personal stuff on the beach when you go to the restroom or grab a bite to eat.
If you’re doing a lot of shopping, rent a locker or take your bags back to the hotel before you visit the rest of the waterfront.
The more you’re carrying could make you a bigger potential target.
How Does Long Beach Compare?
|Belize City (Belize)
|La Paz (Bolivia)
|Sao Paulo (Brazil)
|Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
|Siem Reap (Cambodia)
Whether you cross the border or fly into the country, travelers from outside the United States need either a U.S Visa or a Visa Waiver. You should research that process from the U.S. State Department at least four months in advance to ensure you meet all the deadlines.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency allowed. Even though this area isn't too far from the Mexican border, you won't be able to use Pesos here. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and don't use a public ATM.
You'll want comfortable clothing with a lot of t-shirts and shorts, because WOW, the weather is nice here during any season. It also hardly ever rains, so you can leave the rain gear at home.
Long Beach does have a commercial airport of its own, just seven minutes from downtown. You can also get to LAX or Orange County's airport within 30 minutes (but plan for an hour with traffic).
Travel insurance is a great way to get peace of mind for your air travel investment and cover any health issues along the way. Going to a doctor in the United States can cost a lot of money out of pocket.
Long Beach Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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