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Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Southern California

by Leap on February 12, 2022 Los Angeles

Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific - PinterestLocated between Los Angeles and Orange County, Long Beach offers plenty of seaside fun. One of the Frog Family-favorite places to visit is the Aquarium of the Pacific. It's in a beautiful spot with plenty to do — both in the aquarium itself and the local area. The tadpoles enjoy getting their fingers wet in the touch tanks, coming face-to-face with sea lions and sharks, and learning about aquatic creatures, including nearly two-dozen frog (and other amphibian) species! If you're taking a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood or Disneyland, plan a day off from the theme parks to spend some relaxing time near the shore in Long Beach with a visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific and the nearby Queen Mary.

Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific

Our froggy guide will send you hopping through the indoor and outdoor exhibits and even help you save some green with Aquarium of the Pacific discount tickets. Ribbit!

Aquarium of the Pacific Location and Parking

Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific - Exterior of Aquarium with parking to the left

The Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802. The nearby parking structure is on the waterside of Shoreline Drive between Chestnut Place and Aquarium Way. Parking is $8 for the day with Aquarium validation. You’ll pay for parking when you exit. We recommend sticking around to take advantage of the all-day parking to enjoy nearby restaurants or explore the bike trails and beautiful surroundings.

Tickets and Reservations

You can purchase Aquarium of the Pacific discount tickets from your favorite froggy friends to save money. The savings vary per day. Keep in mind that advance online reservations are required for all visitors on select days, including Saturday, Sunday, all holidays and special events. You may be able to find walk-up availability Monday through Friday if space allows, but reservations are still highly recommended. Once you select your tickets, you will choose a redemption date and arrival window that you’ll be using the ticket before you even purchase. When you visit, allow plenty of time to arrive, park and walk in.

Best Exhibits and Our Touring Plan

Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific - Sea anemones, sea stars and urchinsThe Aquarium of the Pacific houses animals in three major galleries:

  • Tropical Pacific Gallery
  • Southern California/Baja Gallery
  • Northern Pacific Gallery

You can explore smaller interactive exhibits within the galleries, see shows and even create art in the art gallery. Here are a few of our favorite exhibits and how we approach them.

Southern California/Baja Gallery 

We walk through the great hall with the giant whale models before starting out in the Southern California/Baja Gallery. Our favorite part is passing through the underwater viewing tunnel for seals and sea lions.

Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific - Kid at the shark tank

That puts us outside for the Shark Lagoon where the tadpoles like to touch sharks and then watch them through the glass. While outside, we also explore the Molina Animal Care Center, Horsehoe Crab Touch Lab, Lorikeet Forest and Moon Jelly Touch Lab (it's tucked away on the side but worth heading over to pet the bouncy jellies). Our tadpoles love to get their froggy fingers in the water and spend some time getting to know the animals.

Then, we head upstairs to the outside June Keyes Penguin Habitat, Shorebird Sanctuary and Ray Habitat touch pool.

After that, we tackle the second-floor indoor exhibits. The Café Scuba makes a nice spot to have a quick snack, sit down and rest or take a nearby bathroom break before moving through the second-floor indoor exhibits. Don’t miss the Garden Eels! You can easily mistake them for grass, but look closer.

Northern Pacific Gallery

Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific - Moon Jelly tank

Head through the Northern Pacific Gallery to enjoy the peaceful sea jellies and giant Pacific octopus, as well as the coastal corner touch lab before spending significant time watching the fun sea otters.

Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific - Colorful coral in a tropical exhibitTropical Pacific Gallery

Then it’s time to head to the Tropical Pacific Gallery for the newest exhibition — Coral Reefs: Nature’s Underwater Cities. It showcases the beauty and diversity of the colorful coral reef and animals that live in these habitats. You can enjoy the clownfish and frogs before moving through the tropical tunnel to meet more creatures. Stop in the Honda Pacific Visions Theater to rest the old flippers and watch a show. It exits to the Pacific Visions multimedia exhibit.

Downstairs in the art gallery, we let the tadpoles enjoy some free time playing with the interactive waterfall, paint-a-fish exhibit and coral touch wall. Before we exit, the tadpoles love to explore the giant Pacific Collections Gift Store, and why wouldn't they? It's full of toys, books and keepsakes to remember their visit to the aquarium.

Other Fun Add-on Experiences

Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific - Boat and lighthouse in front of the aquarium

For an additional fee, you can enhance your aquarium experience!

Feed an Animal

For an up-close and personal experience, purchase food to feed the animals. You can feed the nectar to the lorikeets and, on weekends, you can feed brine shrimp to the moon jellies.

Take a Boat Adventure

Get out on the water and experience sea life in the wild on a Dolphin Cruise, a Harbor Tour or whale watching when in season.

Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific - Tall aquarium in the great hallHave an Animal Encounter

Have you always wanted to pet a penguin, bark with a seal or get in the water with sharks and rays? Dates vary depending on the animal encounter, but all animal encounters cost $150 per person. There may be height requirements or items you need to bring (such as closed-toed shoes), so double-check the details. Reserve an experience by calling (562) 590-3100, ext. 0.

Health and Safety at Aquarium of the Pacific

Face coverings are required for all visitors 2 and up both indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. Guests who are unable to wear a mask for medical reasons may request an exemption by presenting a letter from a doctor. Guests may temporarily remove a mask when eating and while sitting 6 feet from others outside of their household. All masks must be at least two layers and not have vents or valves. Scarfs, bandanas and gaiters are not allowed.

Visitors who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should visit another time. Guest items cannot be stored at this time. Hand-sanitizing stations are located throughout the aquarium and near any touch areas. Touchless water bottle refill stations are available. Shows, mascot appearances and behind-the-scenes tours are temporarily suspended.

Tips for Visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific

Our Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific - Tree frog

Here are a few tips to make the best of your day at the Aquarium of the Pacific:

  • Eat before you visit.
  • Do not bring any outside food and drink, although you can purchase food from the café upstairs and in the Great Hall.
  • Bring your own stroller. The aquarium does not have rentals.
  • Remember to validate parking.
  • Bring a face covering for all people ages 2 and up.
  • Keep an eye out for special events that may be going on when you visit.
  • Chat with the employees, who will be hoppy to answer questions, share fun facts about the animals and show you things you might've missed.
  • Download the Aquarium of the Pacific Visitor Guide app to see the daily schedule and explore the map (and you can even listen to frog sounds!).
  • Hop by the Ocean Science Center to catch daily shows on real issues that affect our oceans.
  • Get excited about your visit or keep the memories alive by watching Webcams from home.

Hopfully, you're on your way to planning a great day in Long Beach at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Remember to purchase discount Aquarium of the Pacific tickets and make advance reservations before you visit.

Related: Frogtastically Fun Things to Do in Los Angeles with Kids

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
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