Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Aquarium of the Pacific

A new year!  It was an unexpected, yet welcome, balmy January 1st, and so some family members and I headed over to Long Beach to take in some marine air and to visit Aquarium of the Pacific.  Our plan was to visit the aquarium, then to explore the adjacent area, and finally to catch some dinner nearby.
Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach
I'd never been to this aquarium, but my guidebook reads that it's a "must visit" destination.  The aquarium was busy but probably not as busy as during non-New Year holiday weekends.  It's obviously a super popular attraction, particularly for families with children.  And there were SO many children.  I'd guess that for every adult, there were at least 2 kids.
kids, kids, and more kids
The aquarium is large, but not as large as Monterey Bay Aquarium which I visited some years ago.  Aquarium of the Pacific is impressive in its own right, but I don't feel that it's worth the $25/adult admission.  Parking is an additional $8.  There is a 10% discount against admission with AAA membership, but the final price is still steep.  To paraphrase a Yelper's review, the aquarium would be kickass if admission cost $10, pretty cool at $15, and subpar at anything higher than that.  I concur with that opinion.
Fish are friends, not food!
That said, I did have a good time.  Part of my enjoyment came from watching my toddler nephew running among other munchkins and having a blast while doing so.  At 18 months old, however, the aquarium's more substantial offerings were lost on him, and he was mostly fixated on spinning the steering wheel on a fake boat in the outdoor playground area.  We had a hard time pulling him away.
Someone's gotta steer this boat to safety.
The aquarium's feature attractions are the touch tanks where sundry species (including sharks!) are available for tactile examination.  Touching the moon jellyfish was especially interesting...they are slippery and repulsive yet oddly soothing from a textural perspective.

The tank displays were also very cool.  The rhythmic ballet of swimming fish coupled with the swaying of the marine flora cast hypnotic spells.  The sharks are thrillingly scary-looking.  I found the most intense species to be the ginormous king crabs with their terrifying leg spans which I read can reach 6 feet!  They looked extraterrestrial and menacing.
king crabs!
I also liked the lorikeet enclosure, although I don't know how lorikeets fit into an aquarium presentation.  Be that as it may, the bird+people mingling aspect of the aviary made it a very fun experience.  Probably a hundred birds or so flitted about the place, zipping over our heads and landing mere inches from visitors.  The birds were wary but didn't appear fearful of people.  In fact, we were forewarned that birds might occasionally land on us, though none did.  Poop bombs were constant threats.
so pretty...
...and so trusting
When we were done with the aquarium, we took a leisurely stroll along the Pike, letting my nephew's meandering lead the way, until we got hungry for dinner. 
We had dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  It was my first time eating there.  As expected, the restaurant's theme is gimmicky, which I didn't mind.  But the menu is pricey, and the drinks are weak.  However, everything was tasty so we had no complaints in that regard.  In conclusion, it was an okay meal, but I won't be back.
Forrest's running shoes and the feather
Our visit to Long Beach ended with our dinner.  It was a nice day spent near the ocean, and it was a great start to 2012.


  1. The lorikeets and fish look pretty. I'm surprised you did't have dinner on the Queen Mary, haha.

  2. I think one has to pay to get on the Queen Mary. Besides, I've been on and have eaten on the ship already, so I prefer to try something new.