The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is the fourth busiest aquarium in the United States despite the fact that it isn't nearly as large when measured by the capacity of its exhibits. If you go there, you will understand why.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is home to more than 11,000 animals, with a visitor-friendly layout and exhibit explanations.
A general admission ticket gets you in the front door where you can view the 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 (the non-biting kind), stingrays and lots of other sea creatures.
The newest section is the Pacific Visions wing, opened in 2019. You can recognize it easily from the outside by its blue-colored, bubble shape. Inside, you'll find exhibits and films with a bold mission: “instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems.” You'll find a film to watch, interactive exhibits and live animal exhibits created with that in mind.
Besides all the goings-on inside, the aquarium also sponsors harbor tours and sea life cruises in the ocean just outside their back door. Allow at least a couple of hours for your visit, but you will most likely be there longer than that.
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.
To find out what other visitors think of the aquarium, you can read its reviews on Yelp. For reviews that are more tourist-focused, try TripAdvisor where visitors give it an outstanding rating of 4.5 out of 5.
Aquarium of the Pacific Tips
To dodge crowds, go early in the day on weekends or after 2:00 p.m. on weekdays during the school year.
You don't have to stand in line inside to get parking validation - just show your ticket when you leave the parking garage
The show in the Pacific Visions Theatre is 180 degrees but not IMAX. If you're prone to motion sickness, you may want to sit in the upper rows. You enter the theatre from the bottom of the seating area and exit by climbing stairs, but there's also an elevator to use if you ask a starff member.
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.
Here's what to pack before you go:
- Download the aquarium's visitor app to get a map, species identifier, and daily schedule. It's an environmentally friendly way to visit. You can also download free gallery tours from their website.
- You may want hand sanitizer to tidy up with if anyone is going to be touching the sea creatures. If you don't have sanitizer, there are wash stations near the exhibits.
- Take lotion to counteract the drying effects of salt water on the skin, but keep it away from the animals. Instead, put it on after you're done.
- A change of clothing for the kids may be welcome. At some of the interactive water features, they may get seriously excited (and wet).
- Take water bottles. While you'll see water is everywhere at the aquarium, but a bottle of it is overpriced. Save money by filling up your own at the stations near the restrooms.
- 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.
- Bring hats and sunscreen. You won't be inside all the time. There is also a lot to do in outdoor areas.
Aquarium of the Pacific Discounts and Coupons
There are so many discounts and offers for the aquarium that no one should ever have to pay full price.
- 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 in the LA area during a short period of time, 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. For specifics that may include minimum heights and what to wear, check their website.
The aquarium also hosts family overnight trips.
What You Need to Know about the Aquarium of the Pacific
The Aquarium of the Pacific is on the waterfront in Downtown Long Beach at 100 Aquarium Way. You'll find a parking structure for the Aquarium on the water side of Shoreline Drive between Chestnut Place and Aquarium Way.
It is open almost every day of the year, and they charge an admission fee. Check their current hours and prices at their website and also check the tips for getting discounts above.
You get a discount on parking if you show your aquarium ticket on the way out of the garage.
You can also get directions, hours and event schedules on the Aquarium of the Pacific website.