California Museums


Long Beach Rancho Los Alamitos

Rancho Los Alamitos
6400 Bixby Hill Road (enter security gate at Anaheim & Palo Verde)
Long Beach, Ca 90815
(562) 431-3541
Wed-Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m., free

Rancho Los Alamitos is one of two living museum ranchos operated by the City of Long Beach (the other is Rancho Los Cerritos.) Rancho Los Alamitos is the former residence of the Bixby Family. It began during the Rancho days of California around 1806 when Rancho Los Alamitos was assigned by Spanish settlers to Juan Jose Nieto. This museum includes a tour of the the ranch house, gardens, grounds and livestock, experienced through docent-led tours explaining the history of Rancho Los Alamitos. The museum also hosts festivals and events throughout the year such as the Harvest Festival.

Rancho Los Alamitos and Long Beach were both part of a huge rancho spanning a large area of Southern California owned by friends and family members assigned by the Mexican government officials to maintain "alta" California properties. Alta California became part of the U.S. in 1850, but until then it was considered part of Spanish holdings, then Mexico's property when that country gained its independence from Spain.

Some of California's rancho or ranch homes and properties have been restored much like the 21 missions. They are often open to the public and include tours, events and even gift shops. Rancho Los Alamitos near Cal State University Long Beach is one such rancho. Located in the gated Bixby Hill area, visitors are allowed into the neighborhood when Rancho Los Alamitos is open. You drive to the top of the small hill past rows of houses and enter the gates of the estate.

Shaded by large willow and cottonwood trees (some quite old) the rancho includes tours of the grounds and buildings that date back to around 1800. The last residents, the Bixby family, was a prominent family instrumental in the growth Southern California.

Rancho Los Alamitos, which means "Ranch of the Little Cottonwoods" in Spanish, was a simple adobe building during the early 19th century when it was first built. Rancho Los Alamitos was constructed as the home and working ranch for Manuel Perez Nieto, a corporal in the Spanish army. Later owners included Mexican Governor José Figuero, the American Abel Sterns (the first alcalde, or mayor, of Los Angeles during the Mexican period,) and the Bixby family. Each owner added his hand to the transformation of the small adobe building till it grew into an elegant 18-room ranch house. In the early 20th century, the grounds were planted with extensive landscaped gardens that you can visualize today through plantings and care. The final private owners, the Bixby family, donated the ranch house and grounds to the city of Long Beach in the 1960s.

The remaining grounds today include 7.5 acres of buildings and gardens. Six agricultural buildings (including a working blacksmith shop), four acres of award-winning gardens and an adobe ranch house built circa 1800. Farm animals such as draft horses, sheep, goats and chickens call this Rancho home today.

Rancho Los Alamitos is open for tours without reservations, W-Su, 1-5 p.m. Groups of ten or more are requested to make a reservation to assure accommodation. Tours are approximately every half hour and end at 4 p.m. Curriculum based school tours are offered by reservation only. All tours are free! Rancho Los Alamitos is located at 6400 Bixby Hill Rd. in Long Beach. It is open Wednesday-Sunday, 1:00pm to 5:00pm. For more information call Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch and Gardens at 562-431-3541

Open Wednesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

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