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The Queen Mary in Long Beach
Courtesy of The Queen Mary

Climb Aboard a Holiday Wonderland

Climb Aboard a Holiday Wonderland
The Queen Mary, Long Beach

Booking a stay on the Queen Mary, a historic cruise liner permanently docked in Long Beach, makes for a unique getaway. The year-round ambience—defined by its Art Deco–style cabins with operational portholes, period furnishings, and quirky, original features such as push-button light switches—is made all the more vivid when one considers the ship’s storied past. First setting sail in 1936, it wasn’t long before the Cunard liner was shuttling soldiers to and from Europe as a troop transport ship during the second World War; she then dominated the passenger transatlantic passenger market until the airlines took over in the late ‘50s.

Stay here from late November through early January, though, and the hotel becomes even more of a time capsule as the decks are adorned  with vintage holiday decorations and the ship’s calendar of events is packed with Christmas traditions. Holiday treats, breakfasts with Santa, dinner shows, caroling, and more are all to be had, and charting the course for the North Pole from his Captain’s Quarters is none other than the Man in Red himself.

A VIP Grand Passport will provide access to loads of special activities for little ones, including an ice skating session, gingerbread making, stocking decorating, a meet-and-greet with Santa in his quarters, and a story time with Mrs. Claus.

Tours offered year-round on the Queen Mary include the Steam and Steel Tour, which winds down 25 feet below the surface of the water to explore boiler rooms, the engine room, and more. Another tour—Haunted Encounters—explores the haunted areas and paranormal hotspots that earned the ship a place on Time magazine’s 10 Most Haunted Places in America list. And if British history is more your thing, there are tours dedicated to Winston Churchill and Lady Diana.

While you're in Long Beach, don't miss a trip to the nearby Aquarium of the Pacific, an expansive kid-pleaser right on the waterfront.