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Dockside Boat & Bed: An Offbeat Adventure Even a Family Can Enjoy
Long Beach, California

By Tammie Thompson

Rainbow Harbor, photo by Tammie Thompson Always looking for that offbeat adventure, Dockside Boat & Bed intrigued me. A chance to spend the night on a yacht (albeit a small yacht) sounded interesting. I envisioned a boat tied up in a marina, with other bobbing boats just steps away.

My family was less than enthusiastic. My five-year-old daughter kept saying, "I don't want to sleep on a boat." My son just wanted to know the mechanics of the toilet facilities and my husband kept his opinion to himself.

After a harrowing drive on LA freeways, we arrived at the Long Beach Marina in time for the late afternoon sun hitting the water. The marina was white and crisp, somewhat beachy, but so put together. Rainbow Harbor is new and you could tell. We were greeted by an enthusiastic hostess, given a luggage cart and introduced to the "Bit O'Whimsy", our stationary hotel for the night.

The 44-foot Pacemaker motoryacht had been recently refurbished. I immediately fell in love with the wood interior, the indescribable "boat smell" and the gentle rocking. I was ready to crack open the wine and take in the sunset from the back deck, but there was lots of commotion coming from the cabin. "Mom, check this out." "Mom, we have our own room." "Mom, there's a TV." "Mom, there's soda in the refrigerator." "Mom, the toilet works like on an airplane."

Dockside Boat & Bed, photo by T.Thompson Thus started my kids' enthusiasm with the boat experience. I popped in a kid's video, uncorked the wine and escaped to the unbelievable beauty of Rainbow Harbor at sunset. My husband joined me (parking the car was bit of a hassle, but that's his expertise) and we took in the lapping of the water, the lighthouse island, the Queen Mary right across the harbor, and just the pristine calm that the water holds.

Of course, the magic didn't last. The kids were antsy after the long drive, so we battened down the hatches and headed over towards Shoreline Village (just a five minute walk). The village was abuzz with activity. Like a mini boardwalk, there were quaint shops, games, and restaurants. We put our name in with the Yard House for dinner, were given a beeper, and explored some of the shops. Buzzed for dinner, we opted for an outdoor table under a heat lamp. The "California Fusion" cuisine was excellent. Just the right touch for our nautical experience.

After getting the kids settled in their tiny bunkroom, we turned on some jazz and relaxed on the back deck. The Queen Mary was lit up, the sky burnt orange, and a few late sailboats cruised the tiny harbor. I was in heaven.

Our stateroom consisted of a queen bed, lots of windows and a port hole that opened to the deck. The fresh sea air and gentle lapping of the water knocked me out immediately. Heaven yet again.

We awoke to fishing boats and Catalina cruisers. The kids were ecstatic to learn that breakfast had been delivered and included bagels, fresh fruit and orange juice. Perfect. I laced up my inline skates and headed for the path along the ocean. You can go for miles. I made it about five before I headed back.

Families will find plenty to do in Long Beach. The Aquarium of the Pacific is in walking distance and will keep the kids occupied all afternoon. The Queen Mary is open for tours and there are various boats available for rent (fishing, recreational, etc.). The beach is within walking distance, as is Shoreline Village. Dockside Boat & Bed offers complimentary passes for the 45-minute harbor cruise. Kids love getting close to the sealions in their natural habitat.

The Bed and Boat adventure was just that, an adventure. I was somewhat worried about my five-year-old falling overboard, but a watchful eye on deck comes naturally. The boat was like a floating condo. T.V., videos, small kitchen and lounge area were all the amenities we needed. The bathroom was tiny, but included a shower and the intriguing flush toilet. This was a boat after all. The two staterooms gave us some much-needed privacy from the kids and the deck overlooking the harbor was a bonus. The verdict was in, we had a wonderful stay.

Dockside Boat & Bed offers a choice of four boats for overnight stays. The Bit O Whimsy is a good choice for families as it has separate staterooms. The Mei Wen Ti (authentic Chinese Junk) perked my interest. We got a tour and discovered authentic Chinese artifacts, Asian décor, a spacious master suite and very large, funky deck. This boat has a pullout couch for the kids. The Archangel also has two staterooms, each with their own bath. The Instigator is another popular choice for families as it has a master stateroom and additional bunk room.

Dockside Boat & Bed has their own floating office just a few boats down the pier. The staff was friendly and offered up lots of information on where to eat, things to do, and interesting tidbits about the boats. They offer "Little Extras" for special occasions including personalized birthday cakes, romantic evening champagne and candlelight (leave the kids at home for that one), massage, gourmet baskets and customized appetizers.

Dockside Boat & Bed also has boats available at Pier 39 in San Francisco and Jack London Square in Oakland. For more information on Rainbow Harbor call 562-436-3111 or see .

Dockside Boat & Bed offers frequent specials. Call for updates.

More info on the Long Beach area:

  • Aquarium of the Pacific's new shark exhibit





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