When I relocated to Long Beach my junior year, I thought I was quite familiar with the city. My grandparents lived there for most of my life, and I’d often spend weekends and summers there whenever I could. I conquered my grandparents’ little street young, and thought I knew all Long Beach had to offer.
When I moved to Long Beach officially to finish high school, it had been some time since I’d visited the city. I had no idea where to start since I was the new kid and had no one to explore with. One day a few friends mentioned going to the Pike to hang out, I was intrigued and ready to explore. I had blanket permission from my grandpa to go out with friends and be a teenager. Going out with my friends to this new place was how I ended up at The Pike.
Officially, The Pike was demolished in 1979. After the war the city didn’t feel up to repairing all the damage done to the structures within the former amusement zone. A lot of businesses had pulled out anyway, so the city of Long Beach closed down what remained and began to revamp the area. The Pike went through remodeling and name changes several times. Like the spot of time The Pike was renamed Queen’s Park when the city bought the Queen Mary. The Pike became a tourist trap, what with the convention center across the street, the Grand Prix nearby, and a stunning view of the beach right in front of you.
But to me and my friends, it’s just The Pike. A cool place where you eat ice cream and browse Hot Topic before going along the pier to the candy store. It’s a place we meet up before going out. It’s the place I had my first date with Jason.
The Pike is one of my favorite places to visit in Long Beach, and if you’re ever in the area I urge you to check it out. There’s so much to do and see you’ll never get bored. There’s several stores from Hot Topic to Forever 21, the GAP to the Converse Store, etc. It goes on and on so if you go with a group and you wanna get a bit of shopping done everyone can find something that fits your style.
Cinemark at the Pike is probably one of my favorite theaters to date. After a renovation last year all of the chairs in theaters were replaced with these cool luxury lounges. You could raise up the arm bar and cuddle with a date, recline your chair with the little buttons on you side, and just relax while you watch your movie. I go there all the time. For our first date, Jason and I went there to see Big Hero 6. I went there with my closest friend Myreiah and her awesome boyfriend Michael to see a not to awesome movie. The Pike is kind of like a mini happy place for me.
When the Pike is feeling a bit crowded and I want to get away, I take a walk along the pier, and look at all the peddlers and musicians. There’s art and music and the sweet or savory smell of food because there’s a restaurant stuffed into every available space. My senses have to battle through the smells of bubble makers and churros and the sweet smell barbecue when I’m walking along the pier.
I never stop, I enjoy watching, I think, more than being apart of it. I enjoy being apart of all the happy families, group of friends, couples, etc that pass me by. I enjoy going to that hot sauce shop with Jason, and watching him lose his mind of all the different offerings. I like going to the sweets shop next door and getting chocolate covered chips. I love walking around the pier, and then walking towards the beach.
As a kid, I had such a limited view of the city I called my kingdom. I didn’t know about Lakewood and the mall that pretty much everyone at my high school went to. Hell, I still go to it. There’s a Torrid in there that I’ve practically marked as my territory.
As I kid I didn’t know about Bixby Knolls and the cool kids theater I was so lucky to be apart of for a brief time. I didn’t know about the Center, on 4th and Cherry. A place that has helped me more than I can say be the person that I want to be one day.
In Long Beach I grew up, I fell in love, and I figured myself out. I’m still figuring my self out while I got to Long Beach City College and try to make heads and tails of the adult life I was thrust into.
But, whenever I want a little R&R, I know I can take a break in one of my favorite places in my beautiful city.