Dara: As you hopefully learned from our visit to the Monterey Aquarium for my birthday last year, I LOVE AQUARIUMS. So when our friends Dylan and Rocco let us know they were in Long Beach for the weekend and wanted to go the Aquarium of the Pacific, I was glad they invited us because if they didn’t, I probably would have invited myself.
TJ: She’s not kidding. Honestly, my favorite part of aquariums is just watching her. She blends in well with the 5 year olds.
Dara: Yeah, this aquarium had me more excited than usual. It was incredibly interactive and gave you a lot of opportunities to be up close with the animals, as epitomized by the first exhibit we went to: the Lorikeet Forest!
TJ: Which is funny since Lorikeets are a type of Australian bird, not fish! Before going into the Lorikeet Forest, you can buy some of the nectar they eat. It’s $5 a container, and completely worth it since that’s what gets the lorikeets to land on you. The second you step inside the aviary with nectar in your hand, you’re bombarded with birds. I had about six land on me at once right at the beginning.
They’re incredibly beautiful and photogenic, but the warning you get is that they don’t like to be touched. Do not pet them or they’ll bite you! Just stand still, let them eat, and have a fun, picture-filled time.
Throughout the aquarium there are also a bunch of touch labs where you get to feel horseshoe crabs, sting rays, baby sharks, starfish, and even jellyfish! Many of them are where we started, near the Lorikeets, outside near the back of the aquarium.
The jellys were my favorite because they’re not usually in touch labs. These ones don’t sting at a high enough voltage for humans to feel so you can touch their backs and undersides however much you want. Just make sure to be gentle though! They’re very sensitive and their skin can actually tear if handled too aggressively.
After the touch labs, we saw some sharks and a giant sting ray in the shark lagoon, which was cool because all the animals swam by the glass right at eye level. There were so many cool exhibits outside – including the sick tank for fish, seals and sea lions, mudskippers, archerfish, and a very cool interactive exhibit on water usage and the rivers of Southern California. l loved the mudskippers – which are fish that can walk on land!
Here, we also noticed that the aquarium’s visitor guide has space on every page for you to stamp the exhibits you’ve gone to. It’s like a fun treasure hunt for the kids. It got a little tiring after a while for us though – there’s a lot of them!
The Aquarium of the Pacific also has a veterinary space behind glass, and if you go at the right time you can watch them perform medical procedures on the animals. We weren’t there at any surgery times, but instead we saw a show and tell about some of the reptiles at the aquarium.
Also outside, are the aquarium’s penguins. They were pretty inactive while we were there, but we got hang out in the nook where Netflix filmed a scene for their new show Atypical!
After that, we finally went inside and explored all of the aquarium’s regional exhibits, including Tropical Reefs, Baja California, and the Northern Pacific. You can see super smart octopi, tiny poisonous frogs, cool electric plants, cute teeny jellyfish and more!
My favorite part by far was watching the feeding in the Tropic Pacific Gallery. There were three divers feeding different types of animals and it was so cool watching how smart the animals were in trying to get food. The two big stingrays even fought each other over who would eat up front!
Overall, it was a really fun day at the aquarium. If had had more time, we would have done the behind-the-scenes Blue Whale and Sea Life cruise outside the aquarium, as well. Plus, if you have time the area near the aquarium in downtown Long Beach is very fun to explore, with lots of new malls, great food, and things to do.
But lucky for TJ, we didn’t have the time for me to make him spend an entire 9 hours at the aquarium 🙂
The few hours we did spent there though were incredible. High recommend.