Have you visited Racho Los Alamitos in Long Beach before? This free, hidden gem is the perfect place to take a stroll on a warm day, visit animals, and learn a ton about Southern California’s history. Here’s what you need to know before you go!
When my daughter was young, a friend invited us to come see the giant horses at Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach. We got dressed, got excited, and set out for an adventure.
Aaannndd….we couldn’t find the place.
It took a few more years, and a few more tries, before we were able to actually figure out how to get into Rancho Los Alamitos. And it’s really not so hard- you just have to know what you’re looking for.
And when you do find it, you’re going to be rewarded handsomely. With a historic home to tour, extensive gardens to walk through, and a barn full of farm animals, you and your kids will leave the Rancho very, very glad you came.
Here’s what you should know before you head to Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach!
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Planning a Visit
Rancho Los Alamitos is located near CSULB on the east side of Long Beach. As of this posting, the hours were Wednesday through Sunday, from 1-5 pm. (You can check the Rancho Los Alamitos website for current times.)
Currently, reservations are required. This may chance as restrictions lift.
How Much Does Rancho Los Alamitos cost?
Ranch Los Alamitos is free to the public! Donations are encouraged, but not required. We do typically leave a donation, but it’s nice that you get to decide the amount.
There is also a neat coin donator that the kids LOVE to play with up near the barn, so we typically bring along some coins for that as well.
How Do You Get to Rancho Los Alamitos?
The Rancho is tricky to get to the first time you go. Rancho Los Alamitos is inside of a gated community, but there is free access for those visiting the Rancho.
You’ll need to drive up to the security gate, located on the corner of Anaheim and Palo Verde.
Let them know you’re visiting the Rancho, and they’ll give you a parking pass to put on your dash.
Take the street straight up the hill, then take the forced left. The Rancho parking lot will be immediately to your right.
Parking at the Rancho
Parking at the Rancho couldn’t be easier. There is a large, free parking lot available at the base of the property.
What is the Best Age Range for Rancho Los Alamitos?
The Rancho is great for all ages. Younger kids (toddlers and preschool) will pretty much stick to the gardens and barn.
Older kids, 5 to teen, will be able to learn more from the Rancho. They can tour the Rancho house, watch a blacksmith in action (typically Saturday afternoons only), and learn more about the history of the Rancho.
Can You Bring Food to the Rancho?
There is no outside food allowed at the Rancho, and no food available for purchase.
Does Rancho Los Alamitos Have Bathrooms?
The Rancho has one public bathroom, located near the parking lot side of the Rancho’s Welcome Center. It is very clean and well-kept.
However, it is unfortunately far from the gardens and barn if you have a child with a bathroom emergency!
Is the Rancho Good for a Group?
The Rancho is good for a group of 8 or fewer. Any more than that, and it gets tricky to keep together in the trails and things.
There is also no gathering place, so picnics and the like are out.
However, Rancho Los Alamitos does have a large, beautiful event space. They often host weddings and fundraisers here, so a very large group would work out beautifully.
How Long Should You Expect to Stay at the Rancho?
How long you stay at Rancho Los Alamitos will depend largely on your kids. My kids have been there many, many times, and we usually stay at hour and a half to two hours.
There are several areas to tour- two sets of gardens, ranch house, and a barn full of animals- and your kids may want to go through each areas once (or more).
Should You Bring a Stroller?
This is a tricky one to answer. You’ll cover a long distance, so the stroller is helpful. However, there’s also lots of dirt roads, narrow paths, and stairs, so a stroller may not be the best choice.
We recommend an Ergo Baby Carrier. It’s relatively easy to get on and off, and takes awaay the struggle of pushing a stroller across dirt and sand.
What is There to See at Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach?
The gardens at the Rancho are beautiful, and extensive. My kids love the many paths that run through the “forest” portion, along with waterfalls.
Kids will love choosing different paths, circling back, and “adventuring.” They’ll end up at a succulent garden, with real live (giant) cactus.
There is also a rose garden, a path full of geraniums, and various little gorgeous nooks and crannies.
The Ranch House
The Ranch House is a piece of preserved history. Dating back to the 1800s, it was originally built of adobe.
The Bixby family (for who so much of Long Beach is named) later updated the house to it’s current state. The rooms inside are well preserved and furnished, and give kids a peek into what life was once like.
Docents are typically available to guide you through the house and teach you about the history.
The barns are likely to be a favorite with young kids (and older kids too!) In the barn yard, you’ll find goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, ducks, and ponies.
The star of the barn yard is Preston, the giant Shire horse descended from a long line of horses who have lived at Bixby. Kids will be truly in awe of his size (and so will you!)
There are also milk barns, a blacksmith shop, and a tack room to explore. Kids can learn a lot about animals and their care.
Pro Tips for Visiting Rancho Los Alamitos
We’ve got a few tricks for visiting the Rancho to help you get the most out of it.
- Circle through quickly the first time. Kids will likely want to get to the animals quickly. Encourage them to go back and do a second round so they can slow down and absorb more.
- Learn about the history before you go on the Rancho Los Alamitos website. The history of the Tongva people can be somewhat glossed over on the official tour, but it’s important to learn about the original residents of the site, too.
- Visit on Saturday afternoons for special demonstrations, like a working blacksmith.
- If you visit the barns around 4 pm, you may be able to hang out until they feed the animals. The animals get very active around this time, and the caretaker may tell you more about what and how they eat.
Why We Love the Rancho
There are a lot of reasons to love Rancho Los Alamitos. First up, the kids love the gardens and the animals. They really enjoy going through the paths and watching the animals. My son has pretty much perfected his goat noises (he often tells the docents that goats only say “meh” in books).
I personally love the low cost to visit. It is local and cheap, and fills an afternoon perfectly.
It’s a great mix of plain old fun for kids, but they also learn a lot in the process.
Last up, it gets lots of shade some decent ocean breezes, making it a nice place to visit, even on a warm afternoon.
If you haven’t visited Rancho Los Alamitos yet, you’ve probably realized by now that you’re missing out on a local treasure. Put on your walking shoes, get the kids psyched for the gardens and animals, and head out on a mini adventure in your own city.
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