Beyond the Long Beach tourist-packed haunts such as the Queen Mary and Aquarium are many quaint neighborhoods worth exploring such as the Belmont Heights Art Quarter. Friendly storefronts, cozy coffee shops, art galleries and great restaurants offer many ways to discover the area. For a leisurely day of relaxation and pampering begin at Ambiance Skin Care Salon.
Ambiance’s distinct Parisian flair-its black and white décor with hot pink accents-make it a breeze to leave the world outside its doors. The friendly staff welcomes visitors to sink into an oversized armchair, sip a cup of exquisite mint tea, nibble on a health cookie and take a moment to unwind.
The spa boasts a highly personalized approach with an eye for visitors’ individual needs and concerns. It is this unique and one-on-one attention that keep clients coming back. Owner, Laura Gonzalez has recently expanded the spa to accommodate the rising demand and says, “My philosophy of life is to counter balance discipline with indulging in one’s everyday pleasures”.
For a full spa experience, start with a detoxifying foot treatment. Sit back while your feet soak in a special bath that draws toxins from the body creating renewed energy levels and a feeling of well being. Next, a luscious passion fruit body scrub, followed by a warm shower and another body treatment of rich body lotion.
The spa’s signature facial– an individually tailored treatment that starts with an aromatherapy vaporizer to open up pores, followed by essential oils and a gomage (a French term used in skin care for a treatment using a non-abrasive peeling cream that gently sloughs off the impurities and dead surface skin cells leaving the skin with a healthy glow and smooth refined texture). Next, a second special peel that leaves the face ultra polished and smooth.
True to the spa’s philosophy treatments are geared to restore balance to body, mind and soul. Who needs therapy if you can delve into the spa’s delights and come out exquisitely serene and radiant?
Afterwards, glide across the street to Viento y Agua Coffeehouse and Art Gallery. They offer healthy fare, good coffee, and a rotating art exhibition. For more stimulation, stroll along 2nd Street and check out the bustle of people, shops and ethnic restaurants.
Open Sesame, a popular Lebanese spot, is well worth checking out for lunch or dinner. The Kafta plate and the beef Shawarma are favorites as are their Middle Eastern beverages and rich dessert selection. Family-owned and operated George’s Greek Café is also a good choice. For a treat try their eight-hour slow roasted lamb “Kleftico”, a Friday night dinner special.
Round out the day with a scenic drive along Long Beach’s marina and watch the boats as the sun sets over the brilliant expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
What & Where:
Ambiance Skin Care Salon
(3946 4th St, Long Beach; 562 621-1121)
Viento y Agua Coffeehouse and Art Gallery (4007 E. 4th St, Long Beach; 562 434-1182)
Open Sesame Lebanese Restaurant (5215 East 2nd St, Long Beach; 562 621-1698)
George’s Greek Café (5316 East 2nd St, Long Beach; 562 433-1755)
Long Beach Marina: Alamitos Bay (205 N Marina Dr, Long Beach; 562 570-3215)
Silvia Kratzer is a professor of Film and Television at UCLA and at Chapman University. She has previously published her work in the academic field. More recently she has written screenplays and fiction and non-fiction essay published in the e—zine Crumpled Papers that she co-founded with other writing members and café literati of Hollywood. Originally from Germany, she has lived in Hollywood for over ten years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.