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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™

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Aquarium of the Pacific Review

The Aquarium is located at  100 Aquarium Way which is right on the water in downtown long Beach just off the 710 freeway. The hours are 9 am - 6 pm daily every day of the year except for December 25 and during the weekend of the Grand Prix of Long Beach which is usually in April. Here are the admission prices: Adults are $23.95 Children ages 3-11 are $11.95 and Seniors 62 and over are $20.95. If you pre-purchase and print out your tickets online, there is a discounted price of $5 each person. Please note here that there are often promotions and discounts at grocery stores or in the newspaper so be on the lookout for these before you plan your trip. In addition, the aquarium has two special tours that will increase the cost of your ticket if you choose to upgrade. It's also important to not here that the parking garage next to the aquarium charges $6.

We got to the aquarium at 9:30 on a Sunday and it was busy but not too crowded. The main inside gallery is host to many rooms and lots of exhibits to explore. The aquarium has changing special exhibits and the one we saw was called Catch a Wave. The purpose of the exhibit is to find out what creates our waves right  and to explore how animals survive in this ever changing environment. Madison and Logan really enjoyed watching the simulated waves and seeing how the animals bounced around in it. There is also a part of the exhibit that would be great for older kids because it teaches how our influence on the environment is changing how waves affect us and our whole planet.

Another great exhibit is the one focused on Southern California. The huge tanks are impressive for kids and mine really got excited seeing the towers of swaying kelp for some reason! There are colorful girabaldi like the ones seen in the water off of Catalina Island as well as giant spined sea stars and California scorpionfish.

The next exhibit that we checked out was the Tropical Reef Habitat, which is also the Aquarium’s largest exhibit. We lucked out because there was a diver inside the tank right when we got there who was answering the audience's questions about the over one thousand fish inside. My kids were overwhelmed by the size of the tank but enjoyed watching the porcupine puffers and sea turtles. Just beyond the tank we stopped to take in the sea horses and sea dragons.

At this point we went outside to the playground area which is a big positive here with big pretend fish to climb on. Madison and Logan had a blast. The only problem was that there are faucets that shoot out water on a couple of the fish (kids operate these and were spraying the water trying to get other kids wet). It was a little cold when we first got outside so I wish that they would have turned the water off. In any case, playgrounds at museums or amusement parks or other attractions are terrific because they allow kids to burn off energy and play.

After playing for a while we went a few feet over to the huge interconnected touch tanks. This exhibit is called Shark Lagoon and there are several dozen sharks that we were encouraged to pet! They were a little skeptical at first but then really became obsessed with trying to touch both the sharks and sting rays. It wasn't difficult to be able to touch them and went spent a long time helping our kids to enjoy the experience. We then climbed up the stairs to the sea lion tank and watched the animals frolic and swim around. Higher up still were a few more tanks with starfish and other more stationary sea life.

Inside again we viewed the puffin exhibit which was lively and entertaining. Just beyond the puffins was an octupus which was a hit with my kids as well as sea otters which looked warm and cuddly. In addition to all of the animal and sea life, there was an autumn festival that weekend featuring Asian cultural music, dancing and crafts. We watched a dance performance and danced ourselves a little outside with a one man band. We also took our kids in the lorikeet exhibit to pet the pretty green birds. The aquarium charges 2 dollars extra to purchase nectar to feed the birds but we went in without doing so and were still able to get birds to land on us so that Madison and Logan could pet them. There are several other zoos which have a similar lorikeet exhibit: Santa Barbara Zoo is one of them.

The aquarium is going to great lengths to be eco-friendly. In the bathrooms they have installed low flush toilets and at the cafe there are biodegradable plates and utensils. Instead of eating at the aquarium we decided to venture out into Long Beach.

All in all, we really had a fantastic time and spent about 2 hours there just exploring. It helped that it wasn't too crowded and about 70 degrees.