A Day at the Aquarium of the Pacific

The Aquarium of the Pacific has been a Los Angeles staple for over 25 years. I remember when this groundbreaking institution opened in Long Beach. Although my visits to aquariums are limited (I still need to see Monterey), the Aquarium of the Pacific has many memories for me.  

We took Mabel for her first birthday three years ago. We decided to return this month for her third trip around the sun. It was wild to see how far she had come. Every other fish was “Nemo” she said. I didn’t even think she knew the Finding Nemo characters but here we are. 

A Day at the Aquarium of the Pacific

The Aquarium of the Pacific is ample in size and can be enjoyed easily for a few hours. They do a good job at blending enough for all ages to get enjoyment. Our first stop was to their Honda Pacific Visions Theater to see Coral Reefs: Nature’s Underwater Cities: Explore. The stage includes a 36-foot-wide, oval-shaped disc that tilts up to display images projected onto the floor. The entire experience immerses visitors in underwater realms, stunning landscapes, and visions of the future.

Given the giant surrounding screen, this intrigued Mabel. She yelled along a bit and while she got a little apprehensive, she enjoyed the 11-minute short. 

We were there on a Sunday and it was crowded but tolerable. Some of the inside exhibits had short lines for viewing but we managed to see our favorites. Both times we’ve been we loved the seals and otters. Who wouldn’t? 

Exploring on the Terrace and Food Stops

They have a lot to see outside at Harbor Terrace. Including penguins and the Moon Jelly Touch Lab experience. There’s also a small play place that toddlers zero in on. Psst, if a healthy pick-me-up is needed, there’s a smoothie stand on the terrace. 

Speaking of food, they also have a coffee stand near the entrance and the Scuba Cafe. The best part about the Aquarium of the Pacific is the location. It’s in the center of Long Beach’s Shoreline Village so there’s a wide selection of dining right outside including the familiar names like PF Chang’s and Yard House to nooks along the harbor. Further away from the ocean along the streets of Downtown are many options, too. 

The sweet otters. (c) Robin Riggs

The pups of the sea. (c) Robin Riggs

Mabel was excited when she heard that there were sharks nearby. The Shark Lagoon features the country’s first full-scale interactive shark touch exhibit. Guests will discover dozens of sharks and rays and get to gently touch bamboo sharks. There’s also a large viewing of animals like the zebra shark and reticulate whipray in the main habitat. Through this exhibit, the Aquarium of the Pacific hopes people of all ages will appreciate sharks’ beauty and diversity while learning about their importance in the ocean.

Book A Visit

The Aquarium of the Pacific is open daily (except Christmas) from nine am to six pm and extended on select weekends and peak seasons. They were open until eight when we were there and it’s so nice not worrying about limited timing. Reservations are necessary for entry; visitors can arrive at or anytime after their designated time. 

The aquarium plans numerous special events throughout the year. A fun First Wednesday event is currently on the agenda as well as daily whale watching add-ons. Get all of the info and plan a visit HERE