Rancho Los Cerritos
4600 Virgina Road
Historical Site with on-going Public Tours & Museum Services.
Long Beach was founded on the original 27,000 acre Rancho Los Cerritos in the 1880s. Tour the historic adobe and landscaped grounds and learn about the rich history of Spanish, Mexican and American California and the families who helped transform southern California from its ranching beginnings to a modern, urban society. Visitors can take self-guided tours on weekdays or guided tours on the hour every weekend, and stroll the historic gardens at their leisure. Students, scholars and amateur historians can also use the California history research library during public hours. This National, State and Long Beach Historic Landmark also offers picnic tables and includes a Museum Gift Shop with unique gift items and books on California history. The Rancho is open free of charge Wednesday-Sunday, 1-5pm. Groups of ten or more are requested to make reservations for guided tours of the house and/or gardens at least two weeks in advance.
Living History Tours
Tours with Living History docents are offered several times a week during public museum hours. Please call (562) 570-1755 to check if a Living History docent is available . Explore the Rancho with "Visitors from the Past" for a unique perspective on the site's history. Living history volunteers represent historical figures from the 1840s, 1870s and 1930s.
Garden tours of the historical grounds are offered every weekend at 2:30 p.m.
Discover the beauty and history of the Rancho's backyard, orchard, courtyard and native garden areas, and enjoy stories of the families who planted and used the gardens in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Have a passion for history? Enjoy teaching young children and watching them learn and grow? Interested in living history and costuming? Want to learn about gardening or museum collections? Contact the Rancho at (562) 206-2040 for information on our many exciting volunteer opportunities - and get involved in your community!
Plans are underway to build a Visitor Center and a small dwelling on the grounds to house the caretaker, and open more of the historic site to the public. A private capital fundraising campaign by the Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation is at 76 percent of the goal.
The historic rancho building dates from prior to 1844, when John Temple constructed a single story ranch building after marrying an heir of the Nieto family, the original recipients of the land grant in 1784. It replaced two earlier buildings on the site. John Temple then sold the 27,000-acre property to Bixby, Flint and Company, of which the Jotham Bixby family occupied the site and added a second story to the eastern end of the Rancho building. The Bixby family lived in the Rancho until 1881, after which it was occupied by other than family members until 1930, when it was remodeled and again occupied by the family until 1955. It was then donated to the City. The Rancho is a national, state and City landmark.
On February 16, 1949, a sundial was dedicated to the memory of Jotham Bixby in Auditorium Park. In 1975, because of the auditorium's redevelopment, the sundial was moved to Rancho Los Cerritos.
A restoration master plan for the Rancho was completed in 1999. The master plan calls for three phases of restoration. The first, the seismic stabilization of the structure was completed in about 2004 with funding from the Los Angeles County Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond Act of 1996.
The second phase is to construct a visitors' center, caretaker residence and restore the arroyo with native plants. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2009 with funding from the Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation and the California Cultural and Historic Endowment (funded by the California Parks Bond Act of 2004). The Visitor Center and caretaker's residence will allow those functions to be relocated from the historic rancho, and allow those spaces to be reopened to the public.
The third phase will be the reconstruction of the historic barn. This will allow for a classroom to be used during school tours and for the relocation of offices and inventory storage out of the historic rancho so the entire building can be open to the public.
Other completed improvements not included in the plan are Americans With Disability Act accessibility improvements in 2005, the reconstruction of the water tower (2007) and the improvement to Virginia Road with landscaping, repaving, and construction of a visitor's parking lot (in a joint agreement with Virginia Country Club in 2008 and 2009).