Long Beach Welcomes Display Week 2007

SID's signature event comes to a picturesque Southern California town located just south of Los Angeles on the scenic shores of the Pacific Ocean.

by Jessica Quandt

ONCE UPON A TIME – not so long ago, actually – Long Beach, California, was not a place most travelers aimed to check off their must-visit lists. In fact, Long Beach – site of Display Week 2007: The Society for Information Display (SID) 2007 International Symposium, Seminar & Exhibition – has long been a popular California stop-off based not on its own merits but on its proximity to other locations. And for good reason: "The International City" is close enough to Los Angeles to bask in the glow of celebrity. It is such a short distance from Disneyland that the drive there will take less time than getting through the line for Splash Mountain. And it is a quick and scenic ferry boat trip away from the lushly preserved local oasis of Catalina Island.

But do not dismiss this ocean-side town as simply a jumping-off point for other locales. Thanks to its 345 days of sunshine a year, its friendly atmosphere, and its growing number of tourist attractions, Long Beach is becoming a popular destination in its own right, offering plenty of recreation options when you are not at Display Week.

Tourist Attractions

Long Beach has added two major attractions within the past 40 years with the specific goal of drawing tourists, and they are all about the life aquatic.

Jessica Quandt is Editorial Associate for Information Display magazine; e-mail: jquandt@pcm411.com.


The Long Beach Convention Center, host to SID '07.


The permanently docked luxury cruise ship the Queen Mary has come to be an icon of the city that purchased her in 1967. Even bigger and more luxurious than the ill-fated Titanic, the Queen had a much better run as well. Beginning with her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City in 1936, the floating Xanadu carried passengers ranging from British royalty to film stars of the 1940s, even serving as a British Navy transport for thousands of troops during World War II. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Bob Hope, Marlene Dietrich, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, and Greta Garbo all enjoyed the ship in the years that it sailed the Atlantic.

Today, a visit aboard the Queen is a far cry from an excursion on the shiny new cruise liners of the 21st century; rather, it is a journey through a bygone era in a magnificently styled time machine. This ship has been restored to her original elegance and visitors can make their own way around or take guided tours of its 12 decks. Along the way, you will come across the engine room, which served as a set for the film The Poseidon Adventure; the elegant first-class swimming pool; and the ornately paneled corridors that once led the likes of George and Ira Gershwinand Mary Pickford to their quarters. The Queen also houses a hotel comprising 365 original staterooms, boutique stores, the Observation Bar (an art-deco lounge with harbor views where Clark Gable used to quaff brandy), and several restaurants. Sunday brunch in the first-class dining room is another reminder of the Queen Mary's original glory.

Guided tours of the Queen Mary include the Behind the Scenes tour, the spooky Ghosts and Legends Tour (the vessel is popularly believed to be haunted by the spirits of passengers past who died onboard), and the World War II tour highlighting the ship's years of service in the British Navy.

If the opulence of the Queen starts to overwhelm you, head next door to the Scorpion submarine, a relic of cold-war Russia that also is permanently moored in Long Beach. Tickets can be purchased to explore this 78-crew-member submarine, which will seem Lilliputian and sparse, not to mention chilling, in contrast to its grand-dame neighbor.

A short, free bus ride from the Queen Mary leads to Long Beach's newer tourist destination, the Aquarium of the Pacific. As its name suggests, the Aquarium is home exclusively to denizens of the world's largest ocean. More than 1000 species are on display in three galleries representing the different geographical sections of the Pacific Ocean. The Southern California/Baja Gallery is home to harbor seals, California sea lions, sea turtles, and countless fish native to the parts of the Pacific bordering Long Beach and the rest of Southern California. The Northern Pacific Gallery houses aquatic life from the northernmost regions of the ocean, with a focus on the Bering Sea and its surrounding areas. Here, you can watch crowd-pleasing sea otters, a giant Pacific octopus, and much more. The Tropical Pacific Gallery brings you face to face with inhabitants of the ocean's warmer region, including sea horses, zebra sharks, and residents of the aquarium's live coral reef.

The aquarium also features Lorikeet Forrest, an outdoor aviary that brings these Australian birds right to you – literally! Visitors who purchase cups of nectar to feed these rainbow-hued lorikeets will discover they are friendly enough to sit on your hand, shoulder, or head while they eat. There's also a shark lagoon where visitors can actually touch more than 150 of the ocean's fiercest predators.

Local Color

Long Beach residents are proud of their home's reputation as one of the most diverse cities around. Among the most ethnically varied cities in the United States, the city's eclectic mix of lifestyles is a source of much delight for locals. Alongside the surfers, merchants, university students, and business people who call Long Beach home, a growing number of artists are also contributing to the city's unique dynamic.

Hop aboard the city's free Village Tour D'Art shuttle and travel to the city's arty neighborhoods and galleries to see creative talents at work. This colorful bus makes stops throughout the city's East Village and West Gateway, two neighborhoods emerging as artists' havens. You can also take the Tour D'Art shuttle to the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), the only museum in the western United States dedicated entirely to contemporary Latin American art. The museum is packed with paintings, works on paper, and mixed-media endeavors, and recently unveiled a new sculpture garden. During Display Week, the museum will feature the exhibit: "From Surrealism to Conceptualism: Centric Movements in 20th Century Latin American Art."


The Aquarium of the Pacific at night, one of Long Beach's newer tourist attraction.


Getting to Long Beach

Long Beach Airport (LGB) is served by four major airlines: Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, America West Airlines, and JetBlue Airways. Direct flights are available from Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, New York City, Oakland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C. A taxi from the Long Beach Airport to the official Display Week 2007 hotels is $19.

Other nearby airports include the Orange County/John Wayne Airport (SNA) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). A taxi from SNA or LAX to Long Beach will cost approximately $50 (John Wayne Airport: www.ocair.com; LAX: http://www.lawa.org/ lax/; Long Beach Airport: www.lgb.org).

Hop aboard the Passport bus to visit the Long Beach Museum of Art. With more than 5000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, works on paper, and furnishings and accessories, the museum covers more than 300 years of American decorative art objects. Specialties include early 20th century European art, California modernism, and contemporary art of California. Just as visually stunning as the expansive permanent collection is the museum's location. Housed inside the historic 1912 Elizabeth Millbank House and perched atop a bluff overlooking Long Beach Harbor and the Pacific Ocean, the museum's objets d'art are rivaled only by its water views and oceanfront gardens.

Those hungry for more architecture can contact Long Beach Heritage to schedule a walking tour of the city's historic homes, commercial buildings, and districts.

Outdoor Activities

Sure, you're in town to learn about the latest technological breakthroughs in the display industry, but why not take advantage of Long Beach's idyllic climate and get back to nature? The aptly named city offers miles of coastline, accessible in the form of its many public beaches. Local companies offer rentals of sail boats, jet skis, and kayaks at Belmont Shore/Alamitos Bay and Shoreline Village, which bookend the southern and northern ends of the city's 5.5 miles of shoreline. Long Beach is also home to a number of businesses that will take you scuba diving, sport fishing, or whale watching by appointment.

Not a beach person? Try going for a hike at the El Dorado Nature Center, a 102-acre outpost of woodlands, lakes and streams, meadows, and forest-dwelling critters that will make the bustling convention center and its surrounding metropolis feel miles away. Across the street you will find the El Dorado Regional Park, packed with bike trails and picnicking areas for a little exercise or a family outing in the sun.


Long Beach is awash in outdoor restaurants, such as this one at the popular Shoreline Village, that take advantage of the glorious Southern California weather. The Queen Mary, Long Beach's most famous landmark, can be seen at the upper right.


The Pike at Rainbow Harbor is a hub of activity at night.

For a unique man-made twist on the great outdoors, venture over to the city's Naples Neighborhood. Long before entrepreneurs were re-creating the great cities of Europe in Las Vegas, a wealthy landowner envisioned Venice transplanted in California and built a replica of the island of Naples atop Long Beach's marsh lands. Today, carefully designed canals lattice the upscale neighborhood and provide visitors the chance to view the early 20th century Italian-style homes from the comfort of authentic gondolas. Contact the Gondola Getaway service two or three weeks before Display Week to book a ride. Request a singing gondolier and bring along a bottle of wine and a baguette for a romantic outing for two or book spots for a larger group. Either way, you will enjoy a tour of the posh neighborhood showing off multiple bridges, white arches, red roof tiles, and Italian street names that will have you singing "O Sole Mio" on your own in no time.

Shopping and Entertainment

Belmont Shore has emerged as a popular destination for shopping at Long Beach's most posh boutiques and dining al fresco on everything from falafel to crêpes. Pine Avenue is another popular spot for fine dining with an international flair, shopping, and sightseeing. Much of the district consists of restored art deco buildings, giving even this ultra-hip section of Long Beach a throwback feel.

The Pike at Rainbow Harbor is a recent addition to the landscape of the city. Conveniently located right across the street from the Long Beach Convention Center, the waterfront destination offers restaurants, shopping, bars, and even a 14-screen movie theater. A turn-of-the-century carousel and a classic Ferris wheel add touches of nostalgia.

Finally, the Shoreline Village shopping center is packed with restaurants, shops, and performance art. There's also a classic carousel and an old-time boardwalk frequented by balloon artists and mimes, and vendors hawking everything from churros to popcorn to snow cones. Bicycle, roller-blade, and sailboat rentals are also available at this seaside shopping center.

Tourist Attractions

 The Queen Mary: www.queenmary.com/; 562/435-3511, adults $22.95.
 The Scorpion: www.russiansublongbeach.com/; 562/432-0424, adults $9.95.
 Aquarium of the Pacific: www.aquariumofpacific.org; 562/590-3100, adults $19.95.Combination tickets for both the Queen Mary and the Aquarium are available for $34 (adults) at the Queen Mary ticketing office.

Local Color

 Museum of Latin American Art: www.molaa.com; 562/437-1689, adults $5.
• Long Beach Museum of Art: www.lbma.org; 562/439-2119, adults $7.
• Long Beach Heritage: www.lbheritage.org; 562/493-7019

Outdoor Activities

• Sail Boat Rentals/Lessons: www.marinasailing.com; 1-800-262-7245; www.pacificsailing.net; 562/590-0323. 
• Jet Ski Rentals: www.owsrentals.com; 562/436-1996.
• Kayak Rentals: Kayaks on the Water, mrkayak@interworld.net; 562/434-0999 or 562/431-6866. • Scuba Diving: www.sundiver.net.
• Sport Fishing: www.longbeachsportfishing.com. 
• Whale Watching: www.longbeachcruises.com; 562/432-4900.
 El Dorado Nature Center:www.longbeach.gov/park/facilities/parks/el_dorado_nature_center.asp; 562/570-1745; 7550 E. Spring St., Long Beach. 
 Gondola Getaway: www.gondolagetawayinc.com; 562/433-9595.


• The Pike at Rainbow Harbor: www.shopthepike.com
• Shoreline Village: www.shorelinevillage.com/index.html.

Day Trips

• Disneyland (Anaheim, CA): www.disneyland.com; 714/781-4565 for recorded guest information.
• Knott's Berry Farm (Buena Park, CA): www.knotts.com.
• Six Flags Magic Mountain (Los Angeles, CA): www.sixflags.com/parks/magicmountain/; 661/255-4100.
• Tickets to TV Show Tapings: www.seeing-stars.com/Tapings/AudiencesUnlimited.shtml; http://www.tvtix.com/StudioTours (call ahead to reserve tickets).
• Warner Brothers: www.wbsf.warnerbros.com/home.html.
• Universal Studios:www.themeparks.universalstudios.com/hollywood/website/.
• NBC: 818/840-3537.
• Sony Pictures Studios: 323/520-TOUR.
• Catalina Island: www.catalina.com.
 Ferry to the Island: www.catalinatours.net; www.catalinaexpress.com (leaves from San Pedro) 
1-800-315-3967; www.catalinaexplorerco.com.
• Helicopters to the Island: www.islandexpress.com 
• Jeep Tours: www.catalina.com/jeeptours/; 310/510-2595 ext. 0. 
 Scuba and Snorkel Lessons and Rentals: www.scubaluv.biz/; 310/510-2350.
• Kayak Rentals: www.catalinakayaks.com/.
• Parasailing: www.parasailingcatalina.com/; 310/510-1777.
• Glass-bottom Boats: www.catalinaadventuretours.com; 877/510-2888.
 Golf: www.visitcatalinaisland.com/avalon/acti_golf.php; 310/510-0530. 
• Catalina Island Museum: www.catalinamuseum.org; 310/510-2414.

Public Transportation

(Fares run between $0.90 and $3.)
• Buses and Water Taxis: www.lbtransit.com/.
• LA Metro:www.mta.net;http://www.mta.net/riding_metro/bus_overview/bus800.htm for schedules from Long Beach to Los Angeles.

Day Trips

For more than 50 years, one of Southern California's most famous attractions has been putting smiles on faces from around the world – 14 million of them every year, in fact. And with a moniker like "the Happiest Place on Earth," it's no wonder. Disneyland is an easy 25-mile drive northeast of Long Beach, offering a magical way to spend an extra day in the area. Those seeking bigger thrills can check out Knott's Berry Farm or Six Flags Magic Mountain, both known as havens for Southern California residents who like less Mickey Mouse and more adrenaline and loop-de-loops in their amusement parks. No matter where you choose to go, the theme park is a quint-essential Southern California experience not to be missed.

But if the lines, roller coasters, and fried food on a stick that fill a day at the parks have you yearning for some good old-fashioned rest and relaxation, Catalina Island may be the place for you. A 76-square-mile island paradise once owned by chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., the island offers the feel of a tropical resort but is only a pleasant ferry (or helicopter!) ride from downtown Long Beach.

As you approach the island, whether by water (about an hour trip each way) or by air (about 15 minutes), you will be treated to an eyeful of the greens and blues that dominate this largely undeveloped island paradise. Once ashore, Catalina offers a plethora of outdoor activities. Hike through peaks and valleys whose diverse wildlife can be found only on Catalina. Take a Jeep eco-tour through the island's rugged interior. Rent scuba or snorkeling equipment and swim through the kelp forests that shelter the island's abundant native marine life. Kayak or parasail to explore the breathtaking turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean. Hop aboard one of Catalina's famous glass-bottom boats for an underwater view minus the snorkel. This oasis also offers a lush nine-hole golf course. The charming one-square-mile community of Avalon offers shopping, restaurants, and hotels that will tempt you to extend your stay in paradise.

In the highly unlikely event of a less-than-perfect day outside, visit the Catalina Island Museum, where you can learn about the island's 7000-year history, from its original Native American inhabitants, to the European explorers of the 16th century, to the island's days as a popular filming location for the silent-movie industry.

The film industry has come a long way since the days of Charlie Chaplin, of course, and so has the city that makes the movies. Lying just 25 miles to the north, Los Angeles and its surrounding areas are home to some of the world's most famous landmarks, stores, and, of course, movie stars. Whether you head to Grauman's Chinese Theater to catch a movie and wiggle your shoes into John Wayne's footprints out front, sneak a peek at the infamous Hollywood Sign, spend the day touring one of the area's movie and TV studios, or even request tickets in advance for a taping of your favorite TV show, a trip to Tinsel Town is more than worth the drive!

Public Transportation

When it comes to getting yourself to and from all the area's attractions, the city of Long Beach has made it easy and inexpensive with a comprehensive public-transportation system of buses, trains, and even water taxis.

The Passport Bus has pick-up stations within a block and a half of the Westin Hotel, with buses available to Pine Avenue. There is also the Pine Avenue Link, a free bus line connecting the Pine Avenue restaurant and retail district, the convention center, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and Shoreline Village. Buses also pick up within a block of the Hyatt.

To get from one tourist spot to another, try the AquaBus, a water taxi that will shuttle you between the Aquarium, the Queen Mary, Catalina Landing (where you can catch a ferry to Catalina Island), and Shoreline Village for only $1. The Aqualink, a second water taxi line, runs between Alamitos Bay Landing, the Aquarium, and the Queen Mary and costs only $3.

And, if you are looking to head north to Los Angeles for some stargazing, serious shopping, or picture snapping, the Metro Blue Line on the L.A. County Metro Rail System runs between Long Beach and the City of Angels, with a station located about two blocks from the Hyatt.

Long Beach offers a plethora of exciting activities and attractions to keep you entertained long after Display Week's seminars let out and the exhibit hall closes. So slather on the sunscreen, grab your sunglasses, and go explore Southern California at its best. Because with so many choices, the only activity you may end up regretting is sitting in front of TV in your hotel room. •


Downtown Long Beach at sunset.