An Insider's Guide to the Special Spots of Long Beach

BY: CARLOS ALFARO, SOFIA YASSINE, AND NIKI VALENCIA

Adapting to a new city, miles and miles away from home, can be hard at times. With the big move to college, we leave everything we once knew in our hometowns to move on to a new area with little guidance. For those new to Long Beach this fall, or have yet to explore it in their time here, we know what it's like to question where to go, what to do and where to hang out. Sure, everyone knows about the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Convention Center and Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles. But the real gems of this city are those not listed on tourist maps, or even visible to the average passerby for that matter. It just so happens that the best spots in this diverse city are the word-of-mouth, local favorites that exhibit the true essence of the city in their subtle ways. Listed below are a few places to check out that will make your time here worthwhile and help Long Beach feel more and more like home with each visit. *****

MVP's Grill & Patio

What does Shaquelle O'Neil, George Foreman, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Mike Tyson all have in common? Besides being some of the most notable MVP's in sports history, they all share a delicious menu item named after them at MVP's Grill & Patio. This well-known Long Beach eatery brings a feeling of hospitality to each bite as the family business is run out of their charming home off of Fourth Street. Each item on the menu represents originality in flavors ranging from pesto-sauced sandwiches to pineapple-infested burgers topped with their mouth-watering Cajunoaise dressing. No one can leave this burger joint without a basket of their tasty Cajun seasoned fries either, cheaply priced at just $1.50 for a half-order that is nothing short of "half" at all. Expect to leave this old-fashioned food stand with a satisfied stomach feeling like it's very own MVP.

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Signal Hill

Atop the mega-sized community of Long Beach sits a hill that overlooks the surrounding cities. The spectacular horizon view this hill offers includes the neighborhood cities of San Pedro, Torrance and Los Angeles. Drive, walk or hike up to the top of Signal Hill in the early morning hours for a spectacular sunrise or the afternoon hours for a memorable sunset filled with warm colors that will please the eyes.

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Horny Corner

Horny Corner, located on the cusp of Bayshore Beach on Second Street, is known, not only for its distinctive shape and name, but also for its reputation of being one of Long Beach's most notorious party spots.  On an average day, any passersby will notice the backdrop of beautiful waterfront houses and the occasional swimmer or kayaker.  However, on select days of the year, such as July 4, this corner attracts thousands of scantily clad and intoxicated party-goers all there, for one purpose, to celebrate.  If you happen to be visiting the area on a non-party day, don't worry, because you'll still find plenty to do.  Kayak Kafe offers bike, paddleboard, pedal boat, and kayak rentals for hourly rates.  After paddling through Alamitos Bay, you can grab a bite to eat at Alfredo's Beach Club. For more information on kayak and beach rentals, visit http://www.alfredosbeachclub.com/rentals.htm.

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Deli News

Deli News is a family-owned restaurant that produces cheap and delicious authentic Italian food, but make note - it's cash only.  It may sound like a mob family operation, but even so, who cares?  As college students, we'll take affordable food wherever we can get it, and a medium one-topping pizza for only $5 keeps our stomachs and wallets full in the best way possible. Not only is the pizza a hit, but also the pasta, sandwiches and cookies are equally delicious. Colorful murals, depicting Italian scenes, adorn the walls and the personable owners create a lively atmosphere that attracts large crowds, among them many CSULB students. Located on Stearns Street and Bellflower Boulevard, the restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

*****

Sushi Studio

Sushi Studio is not your traditional Japanese restaurant with bonsai trees and relaxing background music.  Instead, this Thai-Japanese fusion restaurant, located on Pacific Coast Highway and Ximeno Avenue, is another CSULB student favorite because of its loud and fun atmosphere.  The employees are very friendly, and no one will get mad at you for spilling some beer while taking a sake bomb.  Bar seats tend to be the most entertaining seats in the house because you can watch the chefs make delicious sushi rolls like "Sunrise on Second Street" or "Las Vegas."  The menus resemble classic comic books and are about as thick as a novel but perhaps the best part of this place is their unbeatable specials.  Happy hour is everyday from 3 to 6 p.m., with select specialty rolls for $6 and draft beers for $2.  The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m.  Parking can be tough to find, but you are likely to forget all about that once you have a taste of your first roll.

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El Dorado Park

Sized at 388 acres, El Dorado Park is conveniently located within walking distance from campus and offers a large array of amenities for students. This beautiful regional park includes a fully loaded cement park, complete with bowls and novice, and an advanced street section. There are roughly four miles of cement bike trails and two stocked fishing ponds. If you're into the intense stoner sport of disk golf, there is a challenging eighteen-hole course complete with chain baskets. Other simple pleasures offered here are picnic areas, a nature center, and an archery range.

*****

diPiazza

A great place to check out local bands and grab a tasty slice of pizza is diPiazza, located at 5205 E Pacific Coast Hwy. This eccentric Italian restaurant is creatively decorated and offers a fun and safe environment for people of all ages who want rock out, eat and get away from campus. Check out their website for a calendar of upcoming shows and a look at their menu.

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Long Beach Bike Path

For those who use exercise as a stress-reliever, brace yourselves. Long Beach offers a 17-foot wide cement bike path, roughly three miles in length. Stroll down this path on your bike and catch a glimpse of the city along Ocean Blvd. and into the downtown area near the Pike. Included on this adventure is a stunning view of the harbors, sure to impress those who have yet to see the real Long Beach.