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Long Beach Grand Prix: Places to visit around town

April 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Indoors and outdoors, Long Beach is geared up and ready to host more than 200,000 people when the annual Toyota Grand Prix roars into town for a four-day weekend of fun.

"It's a really great place to have a great time, and Long Beach knows how to throw a party," said Kraig Kojian, president and CEO of the Downtown Long Beach Associates.

Get it started at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach hotel, which is smack in the middle of the racetrack. Check out the view from the roof. It could be the best seat in town! There are also drink specials and a viewing party if you don't have a ticket.

After the race, you can hang out at dozens of neighborhood hot spots - all just steps away.

"It's a very walk-able downtown, so everything is conveniently located between the track and the entertainment district," said Kojian.

Zoom on over to The Pike at Long Beach, and you'll find several restaurants to choose from. At the Auld Dubliner, you can enjoy authentic Irish dishes and live music.

"And that really encompasses friends, food, having a good time, socializing, telling tall tale stories and really just enjoying the overall atmosphere," said David Copley, co-owner of Auld Dubliner.

The menu is just as important as the perfect pour, and the spicy potato balls were my favorite.

"Top with blue cheese crumbles and a side of ranch, they are addictive," said Copley.

Stroll along the promenade, and check out Harvelle's for live blues and rock. Right next door is the Congregation Ale House, and around the corner is Pine Avenue, where you'll find just about any type of food you want.

For over 20 years, L'Opera fine Italian dining has been a favorite.

"The ambience over here is so fun, you have live music, live entertainment, you will find everything," said Walter Cotta, executive chef at L'Opera. "Long Beach is the place to be."

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach kickoff is on Thursday on Pine Avenue with freestyle motorcycle and BMX races and more. It's also free!

See photos of popular spots in Long Beach.

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