Updated for 2024
The Aquarium of the Pacific, which turned 25 years old in 2023, has become one of the most-loved family destinations in Southern California. Along with the many favorite exhibits and marine life kids (and adults) enjoy seeing, there are always new things to see and do. The Aquarium of the Pacific has just opened their newest exhibit: the Southern California Gallery, which showcases local marine life.
The Aquarium of the Pacific, located in Long Beach, is a terrific place to take the whole family, and their outdoor exhibits include the Seals and Sea Lions, Penguins, the Lorikeet Forest, and Touch Tanks for Rays, Sharks, Moon Jellies, and Horseshoe Crabs.
Table of Contents:
- Aquarium of the Pacific Hours and Address
- Prices, Admission and Membership
- Virtual Programming
- Parking Info
- Restaurant Options Nearby (and can you bring your own food?)
- Harbor Tours and Whale Watching
- Things to do in Long Beach with Kids
- Best Kid-Friendly Museums in Los Angeles
The Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802
Aquarium of the Pacific Hours
The Aquarium of the Pacific is Open every day, except Christmas Day (December 25th).
|Monday – Friday
|9am – 6pm
|Saturday – Sunday
|9am – 8pm
|9:30am – 4:30pm daily
|Moon Jelly Touch Lab Viewing M-F
|10am – 6pm
|Moon Jelly Touch Lab Viewing Sat-Sun
|10am – 8pm
|Moon Jelly Touch Lab Feeding Sat-Sun
|11:30am – 3:30pm
Aquarium Admission, Prices and Membership
Are there discounts to the Aquarium of the Pacific? Is the Aquarium of the Pacific worth it? Does the Aquarium of the Pacific have Free Days?
General Admission to the Aquarium of the Pacific
|Children (ages 3-11)
|Seniors (ages 62+)
|Children under 3 years of age
|AAA Discount 10% off
|See website for all details
|See website for details
|College Student Discount
|See University Student Union for info
There are also harbor cruises and whale-watching cruises that can be purchased as a package with your tickets.
The Aquarium does not offer EBT discount, nor does the Aquarium offer Free Days.
About the Aquarium of the Pacific
The Aquarium of the Pacific is more than an aquarium. It is also the site of a variety of festivals and special programs held throughout the year. Daily, though, families will find more than 11,000 animal exhibits which represent about 500 different species, with many opportunities for kids to get up close and personal to a variety of marine life.
The Aquarium focuses on three main regions of the Pacific Ocean: The Tropical Pacific, the Southern California/Baja region, and the Northern Pacific. Each region is known for different animals and marine life based on the climate associated with it.
Some of our favorite animals you can see include Dory and Nemo fish (not their scientific names), starfish (also known as sea stars), seahorses, jelly fish, and giant groupers.
The New Southern California Gallery
The ocean off our coastline is filled with kelp forests, seagrass, and both artificial and natural reefs, which are habitats that support many kinds of marine life. The gallery will include leopard and horn sharks, a moray eel, California spiny lobsters, and California’s State Fish: the Garibaldi.
Visitors will learn about threats to these environments as well as actions we can all take to help protect them. The gallery is located just next to the giant tank in the main hall.
Membership options allow families to receive unlimited visits to the Aquarium for 12 months, as well as Express Entry via the Membership Line, a 10% discount on items in the gift shop (20% discount in December), 50% off parking (with prepaid parking vouchers), a subscription to their member magazine Pacific Currents, and invitations to member-only events. Family memberships begin at $159 per year.
|All member benefits for up to 2 named cardholders + all children under 17 living in the household + 1 transferrable membership card + 2 guest tickets
|All member benefits for up to 2 named cardholders + all children under 17 living in the household
|All member benefits for up to 2 named grandparents + any 4 of their grandchildren under 17
|All member benefits for 2 named cardholders living in the same household
|All member benefits for 1 named cardholder
|All member benefits for 2 named Seniors (62+) living in the same household
|All member benefits for 1 named Senior (62+)
Outdoor Exhibits at the Aquarium of the Pacific
Outdoor exhibits at the Aquarium are especially fun because you can get hands-on and use a gentle two-finger touch to touch a ray or small shark.
Touch tanks are always fun because it’s such a unique experience. Not many of us get to be this close to marine life very often, so it’s worth all the hand-washing and sanitizing you’ll do afterwards.
Also outdoors at the Aquarium of the Pacific is the Lorikeet Forest. You can purchase nectar, go inside the 5,400-square-foot aviary, and feed the colorful lorikeets.
You’ll also find an interactive section called “Our Water Future.” Learn where our water comes from, what you can do to conserve water, and more.
Also outside and adjacent to Shark Lagoon, you’ll find the very popular water-squirting play area. On a warm day in Long Beach, this is a great idea. If it’s a bit chilly, you may want to steer your kids away from this area.
Throughout the indoor sections of the Aquarium, you’ll find many hands-on opportunities as well. A recent visit allowed kids to get up close with a shark’s jaw; play a game identifying the fastest, smallest, most endangered sea creature from a list of five; and more. Volunteers are on hand and are eager to share their knowledge and passion.
As you wander through the exhibits, try to time it so you can watch and learn from one of the Aquarium’s divers as they swim and clean inside those enormous tanks. They glide through the water, wave to visitors, and provide information about what you are seeing.
At holiday time, there’s often a special sighting of “Santa Diver” as well.
The Pacific Visions Wing
The Aquarium of the Pacific opened the first major expansion in its two-decade history in May 2019: a new wing called Pacific Visions.
The new wing houses the state-of-the-art immersive Honda Pacific Visions Theater, features interactive exhibitions, an art gallery that transports visitors under the ocean, and live animal exhibits, and is all intended to showcase the most pressing environmental issues of our time and help explore alternative pathways to designing a more sustainable future.
While you visit, you’ll also be able to view one of the short films that plays in the Great Hall of the Pacific. The film is projected onto eight screens throughout the Great Hall so no matter where you stand, you can see and hear.
“FROGS: Dazzling and Disappearing” is one of several special exhibits on display at the Aquarium. Families will see more than two dozen species of frogs and other amphibians.
Kids can also learn about the frogs’ life cycles, the different environments they live in, the diversity that exists within their species, conservation efforts, and more. Take a look at the history of amphibians and learn about their uncertain future as well.
The Aquarium has launched many new online events and classes recently. The Aquarium Online Academy for Kids has classes and information for students up to 12th grade, and each is labeled for the correct grade level.
Topics range from basic Ocean information to more advanced Marine Biology. Classes are offered in both English and Spanish – and they’re FREE.
There are also Virtual events designed for anyone to attend, with topics ranging from Penguins to Whales, and these are also free.
Finally, the Aquarium has designed some interactive activities to be shared at home with the family, such as “Magic Marine Mammals,” that include a special kit shipped out ahead of time. There are fees for these Aquarium Adventures at Home, so please check the website for more information.
The Aquarium is also offering an extra special, over-the-top amazing virtual experience for those who want to go all-out: for $750 you can have one of the animals make an appearance at your Zoom event! Choose from an otter, a seal or sea lion, or a penguin.
Parking Fees and Location
Parking is available in the Aquarium Parking Structure located across from the Aquarium, on the water side of Shoreline Drive. Visitors can remain parked in this one location and explore other nearby attractions. All-day parking is $8 with Aquarium validation.
The Aquarium does not allow bringing in your own food to the indoor sections, but there are picnic tables outdoors where you can dine on food you’ve brought from home, or purchased at a nearby restaurant To-Go.
While visiting the Aquarium, families may choose to stop and enjoy a meal at Cafe Scuba which overlooks the Seal and Sea Lion exhibit. They offer daily specials, sandwiches, soups, salads, tacos, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Their kids’ menu includes sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, chicken strips, and more.
There’s also a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant located right next to the parking structure, among other options close by, including at Shoreline Village.
Here’s our list of the Best Things to do in Long Beach with Kids.
Close to the Aquarium you’ll find Shoreline Village. In one charming setting, you’ll find a variety of restaurants, speciality shops, and fun kid-friendly activities. Families may opt to rent a bicycle or take a tour on a Segway, go for a ride on the classic carousel, or play some arcade games.
The Pike Outlets is another nearby popular destination. You’ll find many retail outlets (including Restoration Hardware, Nike, and more) and a variety of restaurants (such as Islands, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and California Pizza Kitchen).
Whale Watching and Harbor Tours
Outside the Aquarium, you’ll also find a number of boats offering harbor cruises and whale watching excursions. (If you select a boat-activity, be sure to take advantage of the combination price the Aquarium offers including admission to the Aquarium and the boat adventure).
The ocean off the Southern California coast is a whale super highway, with many different species passing by our shores on their way North, South or West.
Gray whales are very common, but Fin whales, Humpbacks and even Blue whales have been seen on whale-watching trips out of Long Beach Harbor. It’s also very likely that you’ll see porpoises swimming by in large pods.
Of course there’s no guarantee you’ll see marine mammals every trip, we feel it’s a great family activity.
Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website WendyKennar.com where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).