Part of Rancho Los Alamitos, John W. Bixby and the original park superintendent, Mr. Nessick planted trees on the site between 1886 and 1903. The original portion of the park was donated in 1903, by the Alamitos Land Company, as part of the subdivision of the Alamitos Beach Town site. It was known as Alamitos Park. After annexation to the Long Beach in 1905, the park was renamed Jotham Bixby Park in February 1907.

In August of 1938, the four lots south of Ocean Boulevard, to the mean high tide line were purchased from Mrs. Bertha Bixby to add to the original size of the park. In 1952, the City acquired the final section of Bixby Park, the block south of Ocean Boulevard between Ocean Boulevard and 17th Place as a gift from Mrs. Florence G. Bixby.

Early park improvements included a goldfish pond decorated with water lilies, an aviary with many bird species, cages of monkeys and a concession building. The first major park construction was the 1928 construction of a speakers platform (later call a band shell) and Herbert Hoover spoke from the site during the 1928 presidential campaign.

By 1928 Bixby Park was famous for large state picnics. The most famous was the Iowa picnic, but picnics for other states also drew huge crowds from the 1920's to 1960's.

In May of 1948 English Oaks and Canadian Maples were planted in the center block to mark the opening of World Trade Week. In 1950, a new card shelter was dedicated.

On July 13, 1965, the 9,200 square foot recreation building opened with a social hall, patio, game area, and Park Maintenance shop. In the mid-1980's, the recreation building was remodeled to remove the auditorium stage and subdivide the room into two smaller meeting rooms. Lights, sprinklers, and other improvements were made in 1966.

In 1968, the James A. Bickel Memorial Fountain was dedicated between Broadway and Second Street. It was a gift to Long Beach citizens by Mrs. Bickel, former Park Commission from July 1945 to November 1949, in memory of her late husband.

A park master plan developed in 1991 called for the removal of shuffleboard and roque courts, and the addition of a basketball or tennis court, playground remodeling, hardscape improvements, a new beach stairway with bluff top seating/viewing and a walking path. The playground was renovated about 1996 with new equipment that meets federal American's with Disabilities Act changed requirements for accessibility, and playground safety. In 1998 the L..A. County Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond Act of 1992 funded a shade shelter.

In 2005, a large limb crushed a part of the historic bandshell. The bandshell was restored to its original historic design with the removal of added rooms in 2008. About 2000, a beach skate plaza was planned in the bluff area to give skateboarders an alternative to skating at the bandshell. The Coastal Commission approved this plan with plans for a bluff amphitheater, and beach stairway and playground. Construction plans were completed in 2008, but construction was deferred due to a drop in revenues.

In 2007, a historical mural of the park was painted on the west side of the card room and restroom by Department Mural Arts Program artist Guillermo Avalos. In 2009, discussions began about utilizing the old shuffleboard court area for a skate plaza.