Aquarium of the Pacific
Soak up knowledge about life in the deep with a marine marvel dedicated to ocean life from the Pacific, the planet’s largest body of water.
This shore-side attraction in Long Beach is so huge that three football fields could fit inside its expansive three-story interior. The vast exhibition space recreates three principle areas of the Pacific Ocean: the temperate waters of Southern California and Baja, the icy Northern Pacific and the Tropical Pacific.
There’s a lot going on beneath the surface. You’ll mist up the aquarium glass as you get up close to admire the beautiful shapes and colors of more than 11,000 ocean animals representing nearly 500 species. You can watch them eat at feeding time and even feel a few in the various touching pools. Make closer acquaintances with jellyfish (the non-stinging varieties), sea cucumbers, rays and other sea creatures. You can even dip your fingers in the Shark Lagoon to “pet” some of the sharks.
A behind-the-scenes tour offers those who want to acquire deeper knowledge of the aquarium’s inhabitants a chance to venture above the largest exhibit, Tropical Reef, and feed the fish. You’ll also go into non-public areas of the building to see and learn about how the aquarium is maintained, from water filtration to animal care.
Within Lorikeet Forest, a gaggle of colorful tropical birds caters to landlubbers at the aquarium. This 3,200-square-foot (300-square-meter) outdoor aviary houses more than 100 lorikeets from five subspecies. Purchase a tub of nectar at the aviary’s entrance and watch the birds fly to your hands, arms and shoulders to sip their favorite food.
In the Penguin Habitat, “crawl-in” spaces let you see these flightless birds above and below the water.
Long Beach is situated is 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of downtown Los Angeles. There is paid parking nearby. The aquarium is open every day except Christmas Day and over a weekend in April for the Grand Prix of Long Beach.