Summer used to be about heading down to the beach, digging your feet in the sand, building a sandcastle, or hiding under your rainbow umbrella and synchronizing your breathing to the waves’ swinging crashes.
With the advent of the new Pokémon GO mobile game, it still is about that, but with the addition of having nostalgic zealots rising from under their rocks, chasing old dreams of becoming Pokémon masters, impressionable kids getting into the hype, and clueless casuals just curious to see what all the commotion is about, to go out and catch ‘em all.
This new mobile game allows players, at the moment, to capture the original Pokémon merely with the flick of their fingers. You also have a chance to choose a team: between Mystic, Valor, and Instinct, and fight for control of territories called gyms that allow you to place your own Pokémon to defend it from the rival teams.
In order to obtain the tools you need to achieve your Pokégoals, it is essential that you find Pokéstops, marked by notable landmarks in the real world, that gift you virtual items that are essential to playing the game.
In the pursuit of a short respite, many of these local spots have been saturated with people plastered to their phones looking for the rarest monster, or the cutest of them all amongst the clueless shoobies that already flock to the coasts.
Though the summer break has finally unhooked itself from our lives, the summer heat is still going strong. That is why we sent a few of our Union Weekly friends to Huntington Beach, Shoreline Aquatic Park, and Bolsa Chica State Beach.
They traveled to find out whether these locations are teeming with life, or desolate and calming, and whether these spots are clean enough for your immaculate feet, and how good they are for Pokémon hunting.
They tried to find you the ideal space for those one-off days in which one of your classes are cancelled, the boss lets you off early, or maybe the professor is a bit lenient in attendance and you decided to play hooky, searching for a pleasant, fleeting respite.
By Bailey Mount
Some places invoke certain images when visited. Small towns have their sleepy, homey vibes while bustling cities like Long Beach come across as hectic and chaotic.
The Huntington Beach area, however, gives off a strange mixture of both. Small, independent restaurants sit across upscale clothing shops. Quaint local monuments are dwarfed by sleek modern buildings. Being so close to the ocean, the area strikes a surprising juxtaposition with the long stretches of sand at both the city and state beaches.
In essence, the area is nice to look and eat at, but hard on the wallet. Between its two beaches, the cheaper and more spacious of the two is Huntington State Beach, with most of the area being vacant during the afternoon and truly only coming to life at night.
Being the state beach, there is considerably less to do. For nature lovers, the lack of crowds makes the emptiness feel more peaceful. The area becomes a place to reflect and hear nothing but the ocean and the occasional screams of the children who find its water too cold.
For couples, it provides a perhaps much needed solitude. For a family or college students a little short on cash, the fire pits and almost endless beach creates the perfect, intimate outings devoid of the usual hustle and bustle of the world.
Unfortunately, the area attracts less Pokémon due to the lack of people and is pretty much useless to Pokémon GO players. Pokéstops are nearly nonexistent, with the closest ones being enough of a distance away to make the trip for three Pokéballs obsolete. Players are more likely to find the common Pokémon than anything rare. It’s more of a beach for the experience of community than for playing an augmented reality game.
The emptiness of the beach also makes it difficult to find things to do. The sand is coarse and irritating and it gets everywhere, blown on lounging beachgoers by wind with no buildings around to streamline it. A large oil refinery looms in the background as the only monument, and even then, it gives off more of a haunted castle on the hill vibe if anything.
If you like trash, you’ll be able to find your fair shares of bottle caps, straws, and various paper waste in the sand. Larger pieces of trash get picked up by the local beach management, but the remnants of countless family outings still remained buried there, harmful little garbage treasures that wait to be dug up.
At the end of the day, the Huntington State Beach is an area more suited for college students who need somewhere to relax and escape the surrounding city for a little while. The lack of crowds make it serene during the day. The lack of buildings can make it pretty miserable on a windy day.
If you plan on heading down, bring a sweater and a portable phone charger. Phones die pretty fast with nothing but sand around.
BOLSA CHICA STATE BEACH
By Karrie Comfort
If there is one word that can be used to describe Bolsa Chica State Beach, it’s serene. Located between Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, it doesn’t boast a pier or lots of stores and might only ring a bell with those who are longtime locals, but it has some charms.
The best part about Bolsa Chica State Beach is how quiet it is. It lies parallel to PCH but –unlike Huntington – it doesn’t have loud Main Street crowds running back and forth.
Instead, it has the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, a protected natural landscape filled with all sorts of birds and lizards that aren’t prevalent in many other places in Southern California. Early in the morning, runners can be seen early in the morning on the trail, and in the afternoon, moms with strollers frequent it. If you are interested in environmental science or just enjoy nature, the wetlands are definitely a must-see.
A definite positive attribute of this lesser known beach is its level of crowdedness. There are some days when the beach is full of people, but it is also a very real possibility that you could have a large stretch of the beach all to yourself.
On average, there seems to be a wide variety of people at this beach. It seems like there are less junior high or high school age kids, probably due in fact to the high parking costs. For some people who like to enjoy a rare moment of peace and quiet, this is definitely a blessing.
Lastly, this state beach is best known for its bonfires. Similar to the Huntington State Beach, there are quite a few pits at your disposal, but Bolsa Chica is the first pick for Cal State Long Beach students because of its closer proximity to the school.
Bonfires are a staple of the college experience and nearly every club you’re in will, at one point or another, hold a bondfire, whether as a bonding experience or just as an icebreaker for new members.
However, there are a few negative points that are worth mentioning, most notably, the sand - or rather, the lack thereof. The shore is much like any other beach, with fine particles of sand.
However, as soon as you step into the water, there are a good number of places where the sand swiftly turns into rocky pebbles, which aren’t as comfortable to step on.
In the end, Bolsa Chica is one of the many hidden wonders of Long Beach. You won’t know what you think until you try it, so go check out what is sure to be a very calm beach.
SHORELINE AQUATIC PARK
By Andrew Linde
When I first started playing Pokémon GO, I wasn’t that competitive about it. But I realized pretty quickly that I’d have to get up and go somewhere to actually catch anything.
There are a few parks near where I live, but I decided to go to Shoreline Aquatic Park for one particular reason.
Pokémon GO attempts to follow some sort of logic by spawning more water-type Pokémon near beaches and lakes. Since I don’t live near a body of water, I knew that Shoreline Aquatic Park would provide me with Pokémon I can’t normally catch.
“Well, at least I’ll get to catch some water-type Pokémon,” I thought to myself.
Imagine my surprise when I caught my first Goldeen, Horsea, and Poliwag, not to mention a rather rare Squirtle - and I’ve been playing the game since it first came out! I was also impressed to see a Dratini and a Butterfree. Maybe the rumors of rare Pokémon spawning near the lighthouse were true.
I’d certainly heard from friends that the area was a good place to walk around and catch some Pokémon. When I visited there were groups of trainers huddled around Pokéstops which, to passersby, looked like typical millennials engrossed in their phones.
But I knew that they were gathering Pokéballs and Potions for the journey ahead.
The Pokéstops varied from informational signs to statues to memorial benches. I had to wonder if George Calderon’s family would appreciate that players of an augmented reality cell phone game were stopping by his memorial bench to get virtual items. I also wondered if anyone stopped to read the informational signs or if, like me, they were passing them by quickly to go after another Pokémon.
The lighthouse itself serves as a gym where trainers can test their Pokémon’s strength in battle. It was a rather fruitless exercise. While I did take down a few Pokémon, in the end I couldn’t hold the gym long enough to consider it a victory.
Shoreline Aquatic Park was already seeing some changes due to the Pokémon GO crowd.
A bait and snack shop advertised that they had portable phone chargers for sale. A kiosk on the path by the water was selling various Pokémon toys and accessories. Another was selling shirts with logos from Pokémon GO specifically.
“When we first got the shirts, my boss had to go back to her supplier on the same day,” Christine Carrillo, an employee at the kiosk, said.
They started stocking the shirts about a month ago, when her employer no doubt saw the upcoming need for merchandise earlier on.
While there were still children running about and enjoying the sun and gentle breeze, most people at the park were there to catch Pokémon.
So if you’re planning to take a romantic evening stroll, be aware that you’ll be surrounded by a sea of blue lights and faces staring intently downwards.
Pokéstops: Over 20
Commonly encountered Pokémon: Shellder (2), Pidgey (2), Magnemite, Psyduck(2), Machop, Rattata, Vulpix (2), Voltorb (2), Goldeen (2), Squirtle, Horsea, Caterpie, Krabby, Staryu, Butterfree, Poliwag, Dratini, Magikarp, Ponyta, Rhyhorn.
By Martha Quijano
Sun’s out, phone’s out at downtown Long Beach’s Shoreline Aquatic Park. Everywhere you turned, there was someone on their phone - but not because they were texting someone or posting a picture of the view on Snapchat. They were out there on a Pokémon GO hunt.
The Pine Avenue Pier before the park is surrounded by restaurants such as Famous Dave’s, Tokyo Wako, Gladstones, and P.F. Changs, but only the occasional dog walkers or parents out with their children could be seen.
The park itself was the real attraction. It’s a goldmine for Pokémon trainers and the crowd that gathered in and around it was proof of that.
At the park is Pierpoint Landing, where most people hung out in the shaded areas. Pierpoint Landing mainly sells fishing supplies and snacks but since Pokémon GO has taken over this summer, a sign up in the window let potential buyers - obviously players - know that they were now selling portable chargers and USB cables.
The park was extremely spacious, granted it was a Tuesday afternoon and not many people were there. However, the possibility of it ever being crowded seemed slim even as the sun went down.
The area’s cleanliness gets a near perfect score. For the most part, it’s very well maintained but every now and then you’ll probably see a half finished cup of something laying around a park bench or a wrapper by a tree.
The location has a very chill, beach side vibe to it that makes it even more enjoyable for families and locals to hang out. It is also bike and skateboard friendly except for areas such as the pier, for obvious reasons. Many people choose the area as their running course because of its wide expanse.
There’s also tons of fishing space by the docks at the park. There’s lots of restaurants to eat at such as Chili’s, Bubba Gump, and Hooters, just to name a few.
If you want a boat adventure, they have Alfredo’s Boat Rental, complete with a Gondola Getaway across the street from the pier or the Grand Romance Riverboat across from the aquarium.
If you’re looking to splurge a little, there are plenty of shopping options such as the Pike Outlets across the street from the park or the boutique shops at Shoreline Village across from the famous lighthouse.
Overall, if you’re looking for the perfect place to find a Psyduck or Squirtle or just want a nice, clean, and spacious place to hang out with friends and family, Shoreline Aquatic Park is the ideal spot.