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The first-timer’s go-to guide for the best Grand Prix of Long Beach experience – Press Telegram

It’s just about time for 49th annual Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The event, dubbed Southern California’s 200-mph beach party, will offer Grand Prix veterans and first-timers countless offerings from Friday to Sunday, April 19-21.

There’s so much to see and do at this event — which takes over a big chunk of Long Beach’s downtown and waterfront — it might be hard to figure out how to make the most of the experience.

But never fear. The Southern California News Group has you covered with a go-to guide to get the most out of Long Beach’s biggest party this weekend.

Take a look.

Getting there

The Grand Prix might be all about driving — but it’s probably best you leave that to the professionals this weekend. Instead, opt for an alternative means of transportation.

There are plenty of options at your disposal to avoid dealing with street closures and parking pains caused by the influx of nearly 200,000 spectators the event is expected to draw.

Consider taking the Los Angeles Metro. The A Line, formerly the Blue Line, will get you from Union Station to Downtown Long Beach in a pinch.

Disembark the train at the Downtown Long Beach Station and walk the rest of the route (about half a block) to the Grand Prix’s entrances along Ocean Boulevard.

Regular fare is $1.75 per person.

Long Beach Transit also has more than 30 bus routes and plenty of stops in the city — including near the Grand Prix’s entrances.

Check to plan your specific route, or use the Moovit app, which is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

If you’re feeling a little fun, you might also try Long Beach Transit’s water taxi routes — the AquaLink and AquaBus.

The AquaLink will ferry you from the the Alamitos Bay Landing to Rainbow Harbor at Aquarium Dock 4, near the Grand Prix, for just $5.

The earliest boat departs Alamitos Bay at 8:30 a.m. and the last trip departs the Aquarium Dock at 7 p.m. It’s about a 40 minute ride either way.

The AquaBus, a shorter and even more affordable ride at just $1 for a one-way ticket, will get you to the Grand Prix from the Queen Mary.

Those trips will kick off at 9 a.m., with the last AquaBus scheduled to depart the Queen Mary at 7:20 p.m.

More information about the AquaLink and AquaBus schedules and parking near the Alamitos Bay Landing is available on LB Transit’s website.

For ridesharers: The Grand Prix has an official Uber, Lyft and taxi drop-off point on First Street, between Elm Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard.

And don’t forget about the Long Beach Bike Share, which has several pick-up points throughout the city and near the Grand Prix.

It costs $7 for an hour for pay-as-you-go riders; pre-payers can get three hours of riding time for $21 dollars. Find a bike near you at


If — despite all the warnings — you plan to drive, prepare yourself to deal with extra traffic and street closures.

On-site parking at the Grand Prix is limited, but there are some options available.

One-day and three-day passes for parking on the west end of Shoreline Drive are available for purchase on the Grand Prix’s website.

One-day parking passes are $20; three-day passes total $50.

The Pike Outlets also offers parking — but only for a three-day package. Those passes cost $60, and are also available on the Grand Prix’s website.

Make a checklist

These are by no means mandatory — but here’s few things you might consider bringing to the Grand Prix to help your weekend run smoothly.

You can never go wrong with a battery bank to keep your mobile devices charged. It’s also a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle and sunscreen, and wear layers of comfortable clothes so you’re prepared for hot and cold weather.

A good pair of walking shoes are highly recommended. And don’t forget the earplugs — the Grand Prix is loud.

The next list of items, though, are prohibited by the Grand Prix, so don’t bring them unless you want to get booted:

  • Alcoholic beverages, glass bottles and cans.
  • Weapons (knives, guns, mace, stun guns).
  • Folding stadium seats, large umbrellas, lawn furniture, ladders and step stools.
  • Bikes, skateboards, hoverboards, skates and rollerblades.
  • Powered scooters and bikes.
  • Hand-drawn wagons.
  • Fireworks.
  • Pets (except service animals).
  • Banners and signs.
  • Ice chests larger than 14 inches.
  • Drones or RC aircraft.

Where to watch the races

The Grand Prix’s spectator gates will open at 7:30 a.m. each day.

The type of ticket you have will determine which parts of the event you’ll have access to.

General admission attendees, for example, won’t have reserved seats in the event’s various grandstands — but there is a GA viewing location sandwiched between the Pike Outlets and the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

General ticket holders also get free access to non-racing entertainment, including the Grand Prix’s Friday Fiesta concert and Saturday evening concert.

Don’t forget to check out the Grand Prix’s usual attractions, including the lifestyle expo and a family fun zone at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center.

Those who purchased tickets with reserved seating will be given further information about which grandstand to head to on race days. A map of concourse is available on the Grand Prix’s website,

Between the races

Once you, inevitably, need a break from the noise and all the walking, Marina Park is a great place to relax and recharge, or just kill some time until the next race starts.

Grand Prix-goers can also check out the event’s Lifestyle Expo at the Convention Center.

The expo includes displays from more than 100 retailers featuring automotive, home, recreation, travel and entertainment products — and it’s a great place to get an air-conditioned break from the outside.

And the Family Fun Zone is there as well, with kids able to enjoy inflatables, a bungee jump, a rock-climbing wall and electric-powered cars.

Attendees can also take a tour of Rainbow Lagoon, near Turn 6 and the Hyatt Long Beach Hotel, in swan boats — which are available to rent on site.

Hungry yet?

There’s plenty to eat — and drink — at the Grand Prix.

This year, King Taco, one of the Grand Prix’s most beloved food vendors, will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary — and 30th catering the event.

They’ll have several locations around the Grand Prix, including a spit in the Food Truck Village, located behind Grandstand 31 near Shoreline Village.

There’s also Bistro Row, to the east of Vendor Row and across from the NTT IndyCar Series Paddock, which offers a variety of other food choices and places to sit nearby.

Modelo will also have two sports bar popups at the Grand Prix — one in Marina Park behind Grandstand 31 and the other on the Promenade near the Long Beach Convention Center.

The Pike Outlets, Shoreline Village and downtown Long Beach itself also have myriad food options available, including Gladstone’s, Hooters, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., California Pizza Kitchen and Island’s.

Refreshments like Pepsi, NOS energy drinks and Aquafina water are available all around the circuit — and the Long Beach Water Department will bring its Quench Buggy, a mobile water-refilling station, to the Grand Prix to help attendees stay hydrated.

There’s an app for that

If everything you just read still feels like a lot to keep track of — well, there’s an app for that.

Grand Prix organizers, last year, unveiled an event-specific app for the first time, aimed at helping attendees keep track of and plan out their weekends.

With the app, you can create a personalized race weekend schedule, easily find food and beverage options near by, and quickly access a map of the area.

The app is available on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

Make a plan

Everyone loves to dabble in spontaneity — but if you want the most out of the three-day experience, it’s best to plan ahead. And remember, have fun!

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