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Visitor's Guide to the Aquarium of the Pacific

The Aquarium of the Pacific is located in Long Beach, CA on Rainbow Harbor and is one of the largest aquariums in the world.  The Aquarium features a collection of over 11,000 animals representing over 500 different species in various exhibits ranging in size and capacity.  The exhibits showcase inhabitants and seascapes of the Pacific Ocea, with the the focus of three major permanent galleries, the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific, sunny Southern California and Baja and the colorful reefs of the Tropical Pacific.

Plan Your Trip:
The Aquarium of the Pacific website has some great information about all of the exhibits showcased at the aquarium, as well as a nice Visitor's Guide that you should familiarize yourself with before your trip.  I always like reviewing the layout of the exhibits and having a plan of how we'll be going through the attractions.


As you walk in, you'll be greeted by a large expansive area.  Note that you'll have the option of getting your picture taken that will available for purchase as a souvenir at the conclusion of your trip.

The three main exhibits include:

Southern California & Baja Gallery
The Southern California & Baja Gallery features the varied habitats of this region. The first exhibit is the three-story Blue Cavern tank, which houses sea creatures that live in the waters surrounding nearby Catalina Island. 

Next is the Amber Forest exhibit, which replicates a Giant kelp forest with Garibaldi, California scorpionfish, and other representative organisms.  And lastly, the Gulf of California exhibit houses Cortez rainbow wrasse, Mexican lookdowns, Porcupine fish, and many other creatures.

Northern Pacific Gallery
The Northern Pacific Gallery focuses on organisms from the Bering Sea. Exhibits include the Sea Otter Habitat, the giant Pacific octopus tank and Diving Birds. 

Other species on display include spider crabs, jellyfish, and sea anemones.

Tropical Pacific Gallery
The Tropical Pacific Gallery exhibits animals off the coast of the islands of Palau and has the aquarium's largest tank, the Tropical Reef Habitat.  Smaller children will be drawn to this exhibit, as they will be able to see "Nemo" and "Dory" here.

Explorer's Cove
The Aquarium's main outdoor area, Explorer's Cove, encompasses the Shark Lagoon, Lorikeet Forest and Penguin Habitat.

The shark lagoon houses over 150 sharks and rays. The main tank houses larger rays, whitetip reef sharks, nurse sharks, and sand tiger sharks, while the more docile sharks live in the three touch pools.

The Lorikeet Forest walk-through aviary houses five subspecies of rainbow Lorikeet. Guests have the opportunity to feed them small amounts of nectar for a fee.

 An underwater crawl-in space allows guests to view the penguins from within the tank.

Future Expansion
The Aquarium of the Pacific, which opened its door in 1998, has announced plans for major expansion called Pacific Visions, a new 29,000 square-foot, two story sustainable building that will become the new focal point of the institution.

Tips on Maximizing your Experience Here:
Some general information about the aquarium:

Hours: The Aquarium of the Pacific is typically open every day of the year, except Christmas Day

Parking: $8 flat rate parking is available for aquarium guests at the Aquarium parking structure.  Overflow parking is available across the street at the Pike Center Parking Structure

Tickets: $29.95 for adults, $17.95 for children (ages 3-11).  

I would recommend checking the following options for saving money on tickets: 

Option 1:
Check the Aquarium of the Pacific website for deals or packages available on tickets.  If you're planning on visiting other attractions nearby, package ticket deals are available from the aquarium website   

Option 2: Consider the Go City Card Los Angeles
You can buy a multi-day pass to multiple attractions around the Los Angeles area or build your own pass and save a minimum of 10-20%, when adding at last two attractions to your pass.  

Based on our visit here, I would recommend visiting the aquarium if interested and if you're going to be in the Long Beach area, as it is a different experience from the popular Monterey Bay Aquarium and also much cheaper.  I would say it is on-par with the Monterey Bay Aquarium in terms of exhibits, though the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a little bit larger and my preference if I had to pick between the two.