A Fall Day Trip Full of Fashion and Fright in Long Beach!
Long Beach CA (the LBC) | October 19th-20th
By Alexis Murine
October in Southern California could most easily be described as “Indian Summer”—the hot, dry Santa Ana winds rustling the yellowing leaves during the day, and the cool dampness of ocean fog rolling in off the coast at night. Despite the fact that pumpkins are beginning to replace pool floaties and boogie boards on front porches, many people are still looking for one last mini-vacation hoorah before the slew of holiday preparation begins. With that in mind, here is where I introduce one of my favorite cities, and a potential day trip plan to maximize the sunshine and spookiness this month has to offer: Long Beach.
With the comfortable, coastal vibe of Orange County coupled with the cultural diversity and urban feel of Los Angeles, Long Beach is an amazing happy medium, catering to a wide variety of tastes and interests. Having attended California State University Long Beach, I became relatively familiar with the area, but have since discovered new and interesting boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment each time that I have come back to visit. So, I wanted to share some of my favorite places, packaged in a fun and inexpensive day trip you can do this October with little preparation!
For anyone who enjoys vintage and retro fashion, and finding those diamonds in the rough, 4th Street is the place to go. Commonly referred to as “Retro Row,” 4th Street is host to a variety of thrift stores, vintage shops, boutiques and restaurants catering to the vintage enthusiast, and each third weekend of the month is a “Pile Sale”. Two of the vintage shops, La Bomba and Replay, share a patio space behind their shops, and once a month gather all of their merchandise with a missing button, snagged seam, or simply pieces that have been sitting on the shelves for a while, and create a giant heap for happy customers to sift through. And when I say a giant heap, I mean a mountain of textiles spanning the length of the patio, the peak nearly touching the roof, that you literally have to climb on top of, dive, and wade though to find your buried treasures. And the best part? Each item costs a meager $1-5.
The Pile Sale runs from 12-6pm during store hours on Saturday and Sunday, so we’ll start our day trip off at 10:30am at the neighboring Portfolio Coffeehouse. Voted the #1 coffeehouse in Long Beach, its relaxed atmosphere lends itself to being a great brunch nook and study spot for locals. Order yourself an Espresso Con Panna or Chai Tea Latte and a Grilled Prosciutto and Brie Panini, and sit on the patio to catch some sunlight and cool breeze.
A few minutes before 12, leisurely make your way across the street for the Pile Sale. Going as soon as it opens ensures you and your friends get first picks on all of the great finds, as well as it usually being less crowded than later on in the afternoon. As soon as the doors open, make your way straight back to the patio and begin your excavation swimming through the decades—frothy pastel day dresses of the 50s, neon floral prints of the 60s and 70s, puffed sleeved jewel tone rhinestone dresses of the 80s, embroidered folk dresses, shredded Levis of the 90s, and everything in between.
Some tips for successful Pile Sale shopping:
- Wear something comfortable (and modest)! Since you are literally climbing and crawling around, being comfortable means the difference between searching for 5 minutes and giving up because you are uncomfortable, and being able to camp out and really dig up the great pieces. You can always bring a change of clothes for later in the afternoon.
- Be willing to take chances on fit. Although there is a dressing room in the actual stores, there isn’t a changing area out on the patio for the pile sale, so your options are to either try things on over your clothing, or take educated guesses on the fit of an item. Luckily, since they are so inexpensive, it is a pretty low-risk gamble if something is too small or two large. Vintage sizing also varies from modern sizing (aka “vanity sizing”) so take into consideration the fabric and cut of an item to see more accurately how the piece will fit you, rather than the number on the tag. This is also where your friends can help you make a decision one way or another if you are unsure. If you’re in love with something, but the fit is slightly off, you can always look into the option of tailoring.
- Look at labels. There may be some vintage designer pieces floating around with minor damage or wear that could easily be repaired or cleaned and resold on ebay. Your $5 investment could make you a pretty penny!
- Also, if you’re still looking for a Halloween costume, the Pile Sale is a great place to find unusual and original pieces without having to pay store-bought costume prices.
After you have found your goodies, you’ve probably worked up an appetite! Drop off your finds in the car, get changed (if need be), and head over to Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, Number Nine for noodles and beer, or PIKE Restaurant and Bar for fish and chips.
If you want a change of scenery for “linner” (lunch-dinner), head down towards the beach onto 2nd Street in Belmont Shore, where you can grab everything from sashimi at Sushi On Fire to quiche at La Creperie, then stroll on the sand at sunset.
For those who want to end the evening on a spooky note, the iconic cruise liner turned hotel and museum The Queen Mary turns sinister at nightfall: Queen Mary Dark Harbor. Eerie all on its own, the ship glows against the marine layer fog, hosting 6 different spine-tingling mazes, frighteningly good food trucks and jaw-dropping freak shows. Not only is the quality of the makeup, sets and maze concepts far above competing theme park Halloween attractions, Queen Mary Dark Harbor is also the least expensive, starting at a mere $20 per person.
Like the pile sale itself, Long Beach is filled with amazing potential for memorable experiences, and I’ve only barely touched the first layer of what the city has to offer. However, that being said, I think these activities show just how exciting, diverse, and interactive Long Beach can be, and hopefully will make a great first impression on new visitors, and remind locals what they love about the place they call home.
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