European Gondola Adventure in Our Own California Back Yard

View from a gondola

One of the most dreamy of destinations for many Americans is a visit to the romantic Italy, where one could ride a romantic gondola through canals that are rich in beauty and history.  In Southern California, within the city of Long Beach, is a tucked away little community called Naples that has a piece of that Italian dream.  While Naples does indeed lack what its Venetian counterpart has, it does have multi-million dollar homes and quaint canals that are perfect for satisfying that romantic sweet tooth.  With the help of The Gondola Getaway, you can have your own romantic adventure in authentic Venetian gondolas, right here in Southern California.


Bringing Old World charm since 1982

The canals of Naples, Long Beach

The Gondola Getaway operates the first and largest fleet of gondolas in America since 1982.  The company actually started out as a college marketing project when Mike O’Toole was attending USC.  Mike had grown up in the Naples area and knew the community’s extraordinary assets all too well.  The first gondola was from the Naples community and was operated by an electric motor.  In the beginning, Mike was actually convinced that motor operated boats of American engenuity were better than the centuries old tradition of manual powered gondolas.  As business grew, Mike added a business partner, another long time friend and resident of the Naples area, Dave Black.  It grew in popularity, and authenticity became an issue, so it then became the new direction of the company.  The first trip to Venezia was in 1984.  It would be the first of many to come.  The art of gondoliering was mastered, and even came down to a science in the design of the boats.  Although they are now completely authentic and man powered, they design of the boats are slightly different than their European counterparts.  They are designed in such a way that makes the boats function perfectly in their native habitat of a high traffic Southern California tourist area.  Many of the boats were built locally in Seal Beach, however, 2 boats built in Venezia are part of the fleet today.  Authenticity is of extreme importance to the team at Gondola Getaway, and they have learned to master their craft.  They have even competed and won races in Venezia!

Enjoying the canals

Larger boat that accommodates large groups and dining

On your ride, you will relax in a gondola with the simplicity of a boat without motor, operated only by the manual strength of a gondolier.  For larger groups of 7 to 14 people, 2 gondoliers are needed.   Sit back and enjoy the ride.  You can even bring along your own drinks, sipping your favorite wine or other beverage to further enjoy the experience.  Gondola Getaway will even uncork your bottles for you, as well as providing cups and ice buckets.  Some of the gondoliers are talented singers, but not all can sing unfortunately.  Due to scheduling, they cannot accommodate requests at this time for singing gondoliers.  Cruises are offered at all hours of the day, and all seasons of the year.  You can sightsee in the light of day, go for ambience at sunset, or for a boost of romance to get cuddly with your loved one, evening cruises are especially nice.  During Christmas time, many of the homes are adorned with lights, so an evening light viewing cruise is especially festive.  Although blankets are provided, you may want to bring your own for the colder winter months.

 Booking and Arriving to Your Cruise

Gondola Getaway’s office

Gondola Getaway operates out of a small hut located on an inland pier off of East Ocean, which runs between the beaches of Long beach on one side and the bay of Naples on the other.  There is a blue building that you will see from the street, and just behind this blue building is the pier that the hut is located on.  Restrooms are available inside this blue building if needed.  Checking in is easy, and they will guide you to exactly where you need to go.  Tipping your gondolier is customary, around 15 to 20%.  The cashier in the hut will kindly remind you about the tip when you pay.  Prices vary depending on the size of the group.  Different types of cruises are available, from relaxing and romantic cruises to large group dining cruises.

See here for pricing ideas.




Cruises run from 11am to 11pm

Book your reservations at 562-433-9595

Gondola Getaway is located at 5437 E Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90803


Happy Travels!

Eddie the Gondolier

Enjoy the ride






Entrance to the Gondola Getaway

This little hut has charm









This is not a paid advertisement, as The Californiac did not receive compensation for this article.  The endorsement of Gondola Getaway is purely by personal experience with paid for cruises.  The Californiac truly believes that this is a unique gem of an opportunity to experience one of California’s many treasures.


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