What good is it to live in L.A. if you don’t go to the beach? Most of us who live here have asked ourselves this, or been asked it, a million times.
Same goes for dogs. But most beaches in L.A. don’t welcome our four-legged friends.
Thank dog for Rosie’s Dog Beach, the only off-leash dog beach in Los Angeles County. Four acres of sand and surf for paws to paddle in, and a good excuse to spend four hours in Long Beach’s Belmont Shore.
11 a.m. Hit the beach! Parking in the lot is cheap, and street parking free, so finding a spot for Spot won’t raise your hackles. (The beach is at 5000 E. Ocean Blvd., between Roycroft and Argonne avenues. Note: The area is not fenced, so dogs must be under your voice control if you allow them off leash.) Once toes touch sand, you’re living the dream. Toss a ball or Frisbee, chase your pooch in the surf or let Rover make friends. Maybe you both will lie out, tongues lolling and Instagram followers LOLing, the envy of all Valley dogs. Scratch your dog’s ears and rub its belly. Every dog has his day, and for your dog, this is it.
Noon No food allowed at Rosie’s, so no picnics. For lunch, head from the beach to join the crowd on nearby 2nd Street, where you’ll find plenty of dog-friendly restaurants and bars and grills, including Sancho’s Tacos at 5272 E. 2nd St., Rance’s Chicago Pizza at 5258 E. 2nd St. and George’s Greek Café at 5316 E. 2nd St., all places where Fido can have a dog treat. Me? I want a caprese sandwich ($12.99) from Angelo’s Italian Deli at 190 La Verne Ave., big enough that two can savor the green garlic spread on the bread and mozzarella that’s like a warm pillow. Before heading home, grab bread, pasta, cheese and definitely more of that spread. (Pro tip: You can use a dollop to fry eggs.)
12:30 p.m. Another good thing about Angelo’s sammies: They’re perfect grab-and-go food, so you can stroll 2nd Street heading southeast. Shopping opportunities abound. LB Swag, at 5304 E. 2nd St., will outfit you like a real G from the LBC, and the Beach on 2nd Street store, at 5308 E. 2nd St., has Long Beach State gear. Too alpha, dog? Fern’s Garden, at 5308-B E. 2nd St., has American artisan fair-trade gifts. If that’s not aesthetically pleasing enough, grab a Thrifty-brand ice cream cone from Rite Aid at 5128 E. 2nd St., and wander side streets to admire the beautiful Spanish Revival-style houses.
You’re closing in on Naples. Like Venice, the neighborhood sits on canals that inspire romance. What better way to explore them than a gondola ride?
1:15 p.m. Hang a right at Bay Shore Avenue, which runs along Alamitos Bay, and then curve left onto Ocean Boulevard. The land becomes a strand separating bay from ocean, and here you’ll find Gondola Getaway at 5437 E. Ocean Blvd., and, if you’re like me, make your wife’s lifelong fantasy come true.
A leisurely cruise through the canals and bay awaits. To be clear, this is not just some guy rowing a boat. Gondola Getaway boasts that it sends a team of gondoliers to Italy every year to compete against the locals in the Vogalonga rowing regatta. Our gondolier, Andrew, is a veteran of 30 years and a fountain of Naples knowledge. Then he sang “Mattinata.” And my wife melted.
(If you bring a bottle of vino from Angelo’s, the folks at Gondola Getaway will provide cups and ice buckets with free corkage. If you really want to go all out, pick up some pastries from Pietris Greek Bakery at 5000 E. 2nd St.)
Book online for a one-hour ride for two, $100, and if you have a small dog or child — or like me, both — they ride for free. And while my girls were wary when they set foot, and paw, on the gondola, by the end they didn’t want it to end.
2:30 p.m. Get your land legs back with beers at Dogz Bar and Grill at 5300 E. 2nd St. Legends, down the street at 5236 E. 2nd St., boasts that it’s the first modern sports bar in America, but on this dog day afternoon, we want a dog in a bun. A veggie dog for the wife and a plain Vienna beef frank for our baby and our fur baby. Happy hour starts at 4 every day; maybe we should stay and Lyft home. Watch the Dodgers, put some Snoop on the jukebox. It’s a “Doggy Dogg World” here in the Beach.