The Queen Mary
The major tourist attraction of Long Beach is the Queen Mary (1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, 562/435-3511, www.queenmary.com, daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m.), one of the most famous ships ever to ply the high seas. This great ship, once a magnificent pleasure cruise liner, now sits at permanent anchor (it’s been gutted and is no longer seaworthy) in Long Beach Harbor.
The Queen Mary acts as a hotel, a museum, an entertainment center with several restaurants and bars, and a gathering place for both locals and visitors. You can book a stateroom and stay aboard, come for dinner, or just buy a regular ticket and take a self-guided tour.
The museum exhibits describe the history of the ship, with special emphasis on its tour of duty as a troop transport during World War II. You can explore many of the decks at the bow, including the engine room that still boasts much of its massive machinery, the art gallery, and the various upper exterior decks where vacationers once relaxed on their way to Europe.
But it’s not just the extensive museum and the attractive hotel that make the Queen Mary famous today. The ship is also one of the most famously haunted places in California. Over its decades of service, a number of unfortunate souls lost their lives aboard the Queen Mary, and it is rumored that several of them have stuck with the ship ever since their tragic deaths.
If you’re most interested in the ghost stories of the Queen Mary, book a spot on one of the “Attractions at Night,” which include the Paranormal Ship Walk (562/499-1666, Thurs.–Sat. 8 p.m.) that takes you to the hottest haunted spots and Dining With the Spirits (Sat. 7 p.m.), a combination of dinner and haunted tour.
For more serious ghost hunters, Paranormal Investigation tours happen on the first and third Fridays of each month. Appropriately, the investigations begin at midnight.
The Queen Mary offers a large pay parking lot near the ship’s berth. You’ll walk from the parking area up to a square with a ticket booth and several shops and a snack bar. Purchase your general admission ticket to get on board the ship. It’s also a good idea to buy any guided tour tickets now. Night tours can fill up in advance, so consider calling ahead to reserve a spot.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition