Historic Ocean Liner with Seafood Restaurants and Art-Deco Fixtures
After its maiden voyage in 1936, RMS Queen Mary became one of the most famous ocean liners in the world. In its heyday, celebrities such as Bob Hope, Audrey Hepburn, and Fred Astaire boarded the luxurious ship. During World War II, it was converted into a troopship, and after that, it became Winston Churchill’s choice carrier. The Queen Mary has since retired to the docks of Long Beach, California, and is now a floating hotel. It still evokes a glamorous Old-World vibe with its mahogany paneling and nickel-plated doors; you can learn about the ship through an assortment of onboard tours and exhibits that chronicle its impressive maritime history.
Dining was an elegant affair when the Queen Mary ruled the seas, and this is still the case today. Enjoy hearty crab cakes and lobster tails at Chelsea Chowder House & Bar, or try chateaubriand steak dinners and get a nice view of the ocean at Sir Winston’s, a fine-dining restaurant. Housed in the boat’s former first-class lounge, the Observation Bar is the go-to spot for happy hour; it serves singapore slings, margaritas, and specialty craft cocktails. The bar retains its 1930s vibe with torchiere lamps, original artwork, and live jazz music. For an afternoon snack, tea service is available daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the tea room, allowing passengers to sample tea sandwiches, fresh scones with clotted cream and jam, and petit fours along with a personal pot of tea.
The ship hosts a number of tours and attractions, including the Ghosts & Legends Show, which chronicles the Queen Mary’s haunted past through stories of paranormal incidents and visits to the old boiler room. A series of rotating exhibits also make their way aboard. On display now, Diana: Legacy of a Princess showcases some of Princess Diana’s most treasured belongings, including handwritten letters, custom-made evening gowns, and the hand-carved wooden bench that Prince Charles gave her on their wedding day. Open August 9, 2014 through January 2015, the Bob Hope exhibit is available to all guests about the Queen Mary.
Long Beach, California: Art, Architecture, and the Historic Queen Mary
Fewer than 30 miles from much-visited Hollywood and Disneyland, Long Beach offers a quieter experience distinguished by art museums, eclectic architecture, and ocean-front scenery. Take in the sights as you pedal along the Shoreline Pedestrian Bikepath, a paved 3-mile trail that hugs the coastline. The path wends near the Aquarium of the Pacific, which houses penguins, a giant Pacific octopus, and more than 150 sharks, in addition to other mammals and fish that live in the Pacific Ocean.
One of Long Beach’s most iconic attractions floats in the harbor across the bay: the Queen Mary, a former ocean liner and current museum-hotel hybrid. Built in the early 1930s as a luxury liner for the wealthy elite, the Queen Mary was transformed into a troopship and painted camouflage gray during World War II. After nearly two more decades of civilian service, the ship retired to Long Beach. Today, thousands of annual visitors flock to the boat—which is larger than the Titanic—to embark on guided tours along its decks.
Back on land, in the East Village Arts District downtown, independent playhouses and art galleries line the streets. On the second Saturday of each month, the neighborhood hosts an art walk, as galleries, boutiques, and cafés stay open late and local artists display original works. Long Beach’s architecture also has its own distinctive appeal. Geometry buffs may marvel at the distinctive Walter Pyramid sports arena, as well as the aptly named Skinny House at 708 Gladys Avenue, an extremely narrow structure—only 10 feet wide—reportedly built on a bet.