It’s hard to believe that during all the years I lived in Long Beach, I never set foot inside Rancho Los Alamitos. In fact, up until last year I’d never even heard of it. The Rancho is fairly hidden, set off the street, and protected by a guard shack. But once you pass the guard shack and tumble up the hill, it’s like you’re entering a sprawling (and secret) oasis.
The Rancho is a formidable 7.5 acres, filled with an abundance of animals, plants, and insects. It has a long history: once an ancestral village of the Gabrielino-Tongva people (and still a sacred site for the tribe), it became Rancho Los Alamitos (Ranch of the Little Cottonwoods) in 1833. It was gifted to the City of Long Beach in 1968 by the Bixby family. Today the Rancho is operated by the Parks Department and is open to vistors for free Wednesday through Sunday.
A half hour lunch break was not nearly enough time to explore the entire Rancho. I was able to see maybe a fourth of it. But even the little portion I discovered was so peaceful, so photo-worthy, that I know I’ll be coming back soon. The Rancho is home to a menagerie of animals: the biggest horse I’ve ever seen in real life (plus her colt), some chickens, ducks, rabbits, and sheep. There was even a tough-looking orange cat sunning himself on the grass.
The Rancho would be the perfect place to bring out-of-town vistors, have a picnic, or take someone on a cheap date. For an artist, there are several gardens and a myriad of plants for sketching. It’s a photographer’s dream. Also seems like a great place to bring kids exploring. Here are some of my mad-dash photos as I ran around trying to see as much as I could quickly.