Very few people realize that the Aquarium of the Pacific is the fourth largest aquarium in the United States. Considering that they were founded in 1998, it's an admirable achievement - and it doesn't stop with size. The Aquarium of the Pacific is home to more than 11,000 animals. Besides all the goings-on inside, they also sponsor harbor tours and sea life cruises in the ocean just outside their back door.
A general admission ticket gets you in the front door, where you can view exhibits, watch the animals being fed, or see a film. You can also check out a few of their great touch pools - where you can touch jellyfish (the non-stinging kind), sharks, stingrays and lots of other sea creatures.
Tours and special activities include behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters. And if you're a certified diver, you can even go into an aquarium exhibit. All of them come with an extra fee, of course.
Aquarium of the Pacific Tips
- You don't have to stand in line inside for parking validation - just show your ticket when you leave the parking garage
- It's like getting a free tour guide. You can download free gallery tours from their website.
- To dodge crowds, go early on weekends or after 2:00 p.m. on weekdays during the school year
- Download their visitor app before you leave home to get a map, species identifier and daily schedule to carry along. It's the environmentally friendly way to visit.
- The aquarium has a small cafe, a Starbucks, two restaurants, and a Jamba Juice, all of which are rather pricey--you may want to bring a picnic and have it outside instead.
- Water is everywhere at the aquarium, but a bottle of drinking water is overpriced. Save money by packing an empty bottle and filling up at the stations near the restrooms.
- If anyone is going to be touching the sea creatures, bring hand sanitizer to tidy up the afterward and something to dry off with. The salt water is drying to the skin, so a bit of lotion might be good, but don't feed it to the animals - put it on after you're done. If you don't have sanitizer, there are wash stations nearby.
- There is a lot to do in outdoor areas, so pack a hat and some sunscreen.
- There are quite a few interactive water features where kids may get seriously excited (and wet). A pack of clothes to change into may not be a bad idea.
Aquarium of the Pacific Discounts and Coupons
- AAA members can get a discount at the aquarium ticket window, local grocery stores sometimes sell discounted tickets and members of some groups can get in for a lower (or no) cost. Check for current discount offers.
- If you're also going to the Los Angeles Zoo within the same year, you can buy a combo ticket that saves 15% or more.
- You may be able to get discounted tickets through Goldstar. Find out what Goldstar is and how to use it.
- If you're visiting several other attractions, the Go Los Angeles Card can be a big money-saver. Use this handy guide to find out all you need to know about it.
- And if you're visiting the Queen Mary, there's a package for that, too - and a free shuttle that travels between the two attractions.
- Here's a way to save money and avoid the crowds at the same time. On summer Sunday evenings, the aquarium stays open later than usual and if you go late enough, everyone gets in for the kids' admission.
Aquarium of the Pacific With Kids
You'll find a ton of things for kids to do at the Aquarium of the Pacific and they seem to have more touching pools than any similar facility in the state.
If your kid really loves animals, an animal encounter might be just the thing for a special occasion. Participants must be at least 10 years old and accompanied by an adult if they're under 16. Check their website for specifics that may include minimum heights and what to wear.
What You Need to Know about the Aquarium of the Pacific
The Aquarium is open almost every day of the year and they charge an admission fee.
Allow at least a couple of hours for your visit, and more if you add one of their fun behind the scenes tours or animal encounters.
Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA
Aquarium of the Pacific website
The Aquarium of the Pacific is on the waterfront in Downtown Long Beach. Get detailed directions here. You'll find a parking structure for the Aquarium on the water side of Shoreline Drive between Chestnut Place and Aquarium Way. You get a discount on parking if you show your aquarium ticket on the way out of the garage.
You can also get there by public transportation. Find out more.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer received complimentary admission to the Aquarium of the Pacific. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.