There are so many amazing experiences for children to have when it comes to sea life. Besides going to the beach, aquariums are the most visited when it comes to ocean themed field trips. Today we had the opportunity to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific located in Long Beach, CA. It was a beautiful sunny day down by the bay, with plenty to see in and around the aquarium. We only did the Aquarium but if you wanted to add a whale watching expedition to your day, there is a boat that leaves a mere 50 yards from the entrance of the aquarium.
The aquarium was jam packed full of people and I am convinced it’s like that every weekend. So if you want to be able to take each exhibit in and explain it to your child, I would suggest making a trip during the week when it is not as busy. As you first walk in, your eyes are drawn to a floor to ceiling tank with huge fish swimming through kelp. We spent quite a bit of time at this tank, it was truly mesmerizing.
Once you are ready to start your walk through to the other exhibits, you will come to many smaller tanks filled with various ocean life including seahorses, jellyfish, eels and more. I was amazed to see how small seahorses were, they are hard to see unless you really know what you are looking for. The eels are scary and I must say would be one of the last sea animals I would ever want to encounter.
Head outside to feed beautifully colored birds or take a break and let the children play in a sea themed splash pad. There are plenty of hands on exhibits including the opportunity to rub your fingers across a shark’s back! My daughter would have swam with these sharks if she could, they were small enough that you don’t feel intimidated sticking your hand into their tank.
While we there they fed the sharks shrimp, octopus and pieces of fish, it was truly amazing seeing these natural predators scarfing down on their food. When you make your way around the hands on tanks, you will see a much larger tank that is most definitely not hands on because it is filled with different species of huge sharks that have plenty of teeth!
On this outside level there is a place that you can grab a bite to eat, do a little shopping or have a picnic of your own. There are plenty of restrooms, drinking fountains, and even a Jamba Juice, all very accessible from anywhere outside. Make your way up the outside steps or elevator to find a favorite of most, the sea lions. This is another exhibit that we spent a lot of time at, just to watch their playful personalities. Also on the second level is a baby penguin exhibit. It was really adorable see these small non flying birds frolic around without a care in the world.
Once you head back indoors you are now on the second level, and you can see an enormous life size whale hanging from the roof. It is amazing how large these species are and it really puts into perspective how big the ocean is.
My children really enjoyed their day at the aquarium and I know that we will be returning soon. This is the kind of hands on education you cannot get from a book and I love it!
If you wanted to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, click their link http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/ for hours of opperation and to purchase your tickets ahead of time.