- If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney
Visit Long Beach, California
We'll just say it: Long Beach is underrated. It's just far enough away from Los Angeles to feel a little bit more relaxed, cheaper and friendlier. But it's just close enough to be an easy day trip (or to ponder moving there for good). It's rich in arts, culture and music, and there are plenty of unique festivals held there all year long to keep you coming back. It has its own unique vibe. Long Beach seems to welcome people from all walks of life, and it's home to a diverse LGBT scene, rockabilly fans and comic book nerds. As in Los Angeles, it's all about finding your own village. If all you know about the seventh largest city in California is that it's the home of the Queen Mary and huge ports, read on to learn more.
You might actually be able to afford living in a nice beachside community
We're not going to name names, but a lot of coastal communities in Southern California can be stuck-up, conservative or just straight-up unaffordable. One of the perks about living in Long Beach is that you can get relatively cheap rent while living in a laid-back community close to the ocean. According to Rent Jungle, the average rent for a one bedroom in March 2015 was $1,278 and for two bedrooms it's $1,687 per month. Hmmm...forget visiting, we might actually want to move here.
Ice cream is a big deal here
Believe it or not, Long Beach is the biggest consumer of ice cream—in the country. A 2013 study from Bundle, a data aggregation company, researched credit card transactions at ice cream and frozen yogurt vendors throughout the country, and found that people in Long Beach were buying more ice cream than any other city in the U.S. Los Angeles didn't even make the top 10, and we've got some good ice cream in town (ahem, Scoops). Long Beach has some gems like Belmont Shore's Paradis, which whips up homemade ice cream with real fruits and no artificial ingredients with flavors like sea salt caramel or Ferrero Rocher. Or if you'd rather get a nice paleta, head on over to Paleteria La Mexicana. They've got a huge selection, from the watermelon or strawberry fruit variety to the more complex flavors like pepino con chile (cucumber with chile) or mango con chile. You can even buy a box of them if you feel so inclined since they run pretty cheap. And something to look forward in the coming months, Afters Ice Cream is planning on opening up shop soon close by to the Cal State Long Beach campus. The ice cream parlor's known for their Milky Bun that's stuffed with delicious ice cream with unique flavors like jasmine milk tea or strawberry cookie crunch.
There's a tranquil Japanese Garden for relaxing
If you're looking for a quiet place to sit among nature and relax, Cal State Long Beach has its very own peaceful Japanese garden tucked away on its campus. The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden website lists hours when it is open, and the garden is completely free to the public. The garden features a large pond with koi fish, a waterfall, plenty of seating and lots of bamboo and bonsai adding the lush surroundings. It's also got a gardenia bush for that beautiful scent. —Bethania Palma Markus