Ask any of the proud locals at Visit Long Beach what defines their beloved city for leisure travelers and meeting and convention delegates and “authenticity” is the first word that comes to mind.
“Everywhere you go in this city, you come across locals who have a true desire to interact with you and elevate your experience,” said Jeff Forney, vice president of marketing, membership and special projects for the Long Beach CVB.
As a convention attendee, the local authenticity is even infused into experiences such as The Cove, one of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center’s latest turnkey meeting spaces. Occupying the area in front of the Seaside Meeting Rooms and below the Terrace Theatre, The Cove is a hip outdoor space set under an overpass, and local features such as food trucks and eateries are all the rage when booking the space.
The Fresh Shave is one of the establishments often serving its signature specialty to attendees at The Cove.
The company offers a healthier alternative to shave ice, Hawaii’s famous treat, utilizing the best all-natural and organic ingredients from local farms instead of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring. The company's name is a play on words, with each flavor named after a popular mustache style.
The Fresh Shave is also a featured vendor at one of the coolest new dining and retail offerings to pop up in Long Beach—SteelCraft in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood, an outdoor destination focused on sustainable craft food and drink, as well as unique retail. SteelCraft is composed of four 40-foot cargo containers and five 20-foot containers turned into eateries and shops.
Other than The Fresh Shave, local vendors bringing their signature artisan specialties to SteelCraft include California Petals, Desano Pizza, Pig Pen Delicacy, Smog City Brewing Co., Steelhead Coffee, Tajima Ramen and Waffle Love.
The culinary scene overall is one of the best ways to experience Long Beach like a local, according to Bob Maguglin, director of public relations for the Long Beach CVB.
“One competitive edge we have when it comes to having meetings here is that within eight compact blocks of the downtown area around the convention center, we have more than 130 restaurants of every ethnicity,” he said.
The food scene is incredibly diverse because of the city’s rich cultural diversity, added Loren Alexis Simpson, director of digital communications at the Long Beach CVB.
“We have the largest Cambodian population outside of Cambodia, so we are known for our Cambodian restaurants, for example,” she said. “We’re starting to get noticed and featured by outlets such as Buzz Feed and other foodie influencers.”
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Meanwhile, there is a festival for nearly every ethnicity represented in Long Beach, according to Maguglin, whether it’s Greek, Samoan or Latin, among the many others, he said, giving attendees more opportunities to discover the city’s unique cultural makeup.
One of the best ways to experience Long Beach’s local Latin character is at MOLAA, the Museum of Latin American Art, Maguglin added.
“MOLAA has great contemporary Hispanic art and meeting space for groups, but the real highlight is a wonderful, gently terraced sculpture garden that can be used for events,” he said.
Whether attendees head to museums, festivals or restaurants, the beauty of Long Beach is that there is always something happening, according to Simpson, and locals are always quick with a smile and a helping hand."
“Locals are out and about all the time because there are so many interesting things to do,” she said. “We have a strong sense of pride about Long Beach and it shows in our local hospitality. Attendees flock here because locals make everyone feel very comfortable. That really sets us apart.”