Live like a king, or a captain, with an overnight stay aboard a private yacht. Dockside Boat & Bed rents luxe vessels for a night — or two or three — at Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach. Roomier than most hotel rooms, the boats include galleys, living rooms and sequined reflections from the harbor itself. The tab? Our one-night, two-day stay totaled $275, including $50 for meals. The boats never leave the dock, but the experience is as relaxing as only a night on the water can be.
Dockside (Dock 5, Rainbow Harbor;  436-2574, http://www.boatandbed.com) offers four to six yachts, most in the 40- to 50-foot range. Ours, the 40-foot Sea Peepers, was furnished with books, lamps — the usual homey B&B décor — and had a separate master bedroom. There are additional berths in the bow. The Sea Peepers cost $200 for two (Sundays-Thursdays, $200; Fridays and Saturdays, $220). Additional guests are $25. The boat has a small galley with a microwave and fridge; the stove is not functional, though there is a gas grill on the dock. The Sea Peepers also has free Wi-Fi and three flat-screen TVs. There was no reception, but a library of DVDs awaits. On the mild November night we were here, the boat barely budged, rocking gently with the passing of occasional vessels.
Take your pick from about every type of mid-priced chain you could name: Gladstone's, Outback, P.F. Chang's, most with patios overlooking Rainbow Harbor, at the doorstep to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Just south, Shoreline Village is less than a 10-minute stroll, where more eateries await. We had reasonably priced appetizers at happy hour (sliders or wings, $3.99) at Tequila Jack's (407 Shoreline Village Drive;  628-0454, http://www.tequilajacks.com) on the patio overlooking the harbor at sunset. Best suggestion though: Bring steaks or a slab of salmon and toss it on the private dockside grill. In the morning, a continental breakfast of bagels, fruit and yogurt was delivered to the Sea Peepers.
For our 10-year-old, it doesn't get much better than the old-style arcade in Shoreline Village ( 435-2668, http://www.shorelinevillage.com). Movie theaters are nearby, but who wants to be indoors when the harbor shimmers with Christmas and the Queen Mary (1126 Queens Highway;  342-0742, http://www.queenmary.com) glows in the distance, its smokestacks wrapped with white lights? Glass smooth, the harbor in late evening mirrors everything, sending reflections across the yacht's walls and ceilings.
The lesson learned
Most so-called staycations feel like compromises. This felt like a real adventure. And what a great option for a special weekend, birthday or anniversary. As Christmas nears, consider a gift certificate for anyone who would appreciate a silent night on the water.
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