The Gondola Getaway in Long Beach is a romantic staycation activity

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary gondola cruise at The Gondola Getaway through the blogger network, U.S. Family Guide. All opinions are my own.

Because of my husband’s busy schedule, we rarely have “date night.” When we can get away, it’s great when we do something fun and unique. Last Sunday, we went on a gondola cruise with The Gondola Getaway in Long Beach. Because it was something neither one of us had experienced before, it was definitely something new and exciting to talk about afterwards (which is golden when you feel like you’ve fallen into a routine).

About an hour’s drive from Los Angeles (less, depending on traffic), The Gondola Getaway in Long Beach transports you to the canals of Italy. This one-hour man-powered cruise focuses on romance. I never thought “romance” was something that could be forced upon a couple, but afterwards I found myself more in love with my husband than the hour before! We had a fantastic time, and I would definitely return!

Here’s how The Gondola Getaway adds the spark to the flame:

Naples, Long Beach

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for a long time, yet never knew about Naples, Long Beach until learning about gondola rides with The Gondola GetawayNaples, Long Beach, is a group three of man-made islands and canals built on Alamitos Bay in the early 1900’s. Named the “Dreamland of Southern California,” it embraces the charm of Italy with its narrow streets and walkways, canals, beautiful homes, and boats. I fell in love with this neighborhood, and learned so much about it on our gondola ride. It will be a “must do” on the list of places to take out-of-town guests!

Fun fact: Long Beach is only one of eight places in the Western United States where tourists may ride in a gondola.

(below: one of the coolest houses we saw – the roof accommodates the tree!)


The Gondolas


Currently, The Gondola Getaway‘s fleet consists of 12 gondolas – four were imported from Italy and eight were custom built to allow for more passengers. We rode on the imported, two-passenger, 29 year-old “Sandolo” gondola. The quality, craftsmanship, impressed me, as did maintenance of all the gondolas. They take very good care of their fleet.

The Gondola Getaway provides complimentary cups, ice, ice bucket, blankets, and music. I wish we remembered to bring our bottle of wine (so bummed we forgot it in our mad rush out the door), but it was still nice to cuddle under the blanket and listen to the music.

The “kiss under every bridge” tradition


When we approached our first bridge, our gondolier told us it is tradition to kiss under every bridge. I believe it is inspired by the romantic legend of the famous Bridge of Sighs in Venice, where if a couple kisses under the bridge on a gondola at sunset, they will enjoy eternal love.

I find it a little odd to kiss on demand, especially in front of someone, but by the third or so bridge, it no longer felt weird. It brought back memories of my wedding day, of guests clinking glasses to provoke a similar outcome. The residents of Naples, Long Beach must get a kick out of it, because when we drifted by a house party with slightly inebriated guests, they outright yelled, “kiss her,” which was quite hilarious.

Our singing gondolier


Our gondolier, Joseph, was informative, friendly, and overall fantastic. When we got on board, he made us feel very welcome and said he was happy to answer any questions or just steer the boat. He said his main job (besides rowing) is to offer a romantic atmosphere.

Even though he said singing isn’t his specialty, he sang two songs, each under a bridge. The first bridge he sang under, he explained, has great acoustics, so it is very forgiving. Usually at that point, he explained, guests have had a couple of glasses of wine. I thought he did pretty good!

Special Occasions

Joseph, our gondolier, saw several proposals, participated in wedding vow renewals, and even rowed a bride to her wedding on the beach! The Gondola Getaway is home to over 400 proposals a year, and over a dozen renewals.

Other offerings from The Gondola Getaway

Although romance is their specialty, The Gondola Getaway is also great for groups. They have brunch cruises, pizza cruises, and even “fleet cruises” – which accommodate up to 60 people (using multiple gondolas).

My suggestions for a great Gondola Getaway experience

Turn off your phone

Oddly enough, my cellphone shut off (battery issues) at the beginning of our gondola ride. I took the photos and videos for this post with husband’s phone. My phone dying was probably a blessing in disguise, because technology can be a romance killer. Like the pace and history of the gondola, take it easy and take it back to basics when you are with your loved one…and you will find yourself loving them even more.

Bring some wine and eat a little something beforehand

As mentioned before, I was bummed we forgot the wine (and didn’t have time to pick up a bottle along the way). However, I’m kind of glad we didn’t bring it because we would have drank on an empty stomach. I’m a bit of a lightweight now, so if we finished a bottle of wine, I probably wouldn’t remember half the trip and it could have ended very un-romantically.

Enjoy your time together

I know it sounds kind of obvious, but as a parent I have so much on my mind. It was really nice to sit and relax with my spouse not in front of the television. We talked a little about the kid, but being in the gondola opened up some conversations we never had before. It was very nice and refreshing.

About Gondola Getaway

Established in 1982, the authentic and original Gondola Getaway brings old world charm and thousand-year old tradition to Southern California. Authentic Venetian gondolas gently cruise the enchanting canals and waterways of Naples Island, near the resort area of Belmont Shore in Long Beach, CA.

The Gondola Getaway offers relaxing and romantic cruises from 11:00am to 11:00pm, 7 days a week. Each cruise is approximately one hour.

Receptionists accept reservations Monday-Sunday 10-5.

Gondola Getaway has the first and largest fleet in America. Gondola Getaway is the best Gondola Experience in America!

Special Offer

My readers get to save 15% off Gondola Cruise with Gondola Getaway!

Receive 15% off a 1-hour Gondola cruise for any size group!

Cruise the beautiful Alamitos Bay and Naples Island Canals!

Click here for offer (Expires: Aug. 31st, 2016)