We had decided that on Tuesday, we would stay close to our hotel and do our touring around Long Beach. Shortly before lunchtime, the six of us climbed aboard the Passport bus. This is a free shuttle that will transport you all around Long Beach. Our Queen Mary Hotel is one of its stops. We rode the shuttle to the Aquarium of the Pacific and bought our $29 tickets. The first order of business was to get some lunch.
Lunch at these attractions is always a bad idea. The food is typical tourist fare that is always expensive. The cafes are always crowded and noisy. With so many good restaurants surrounding the aquarium it would have made sense to eat at one of them before entering. But we didn’t and instead we quickly ate our overpriced burgers and pizza in the aquarium’s cafe and got on our way.
The aquarium in Long Beach is a world-class facility, spacious and well designed. It explores the waters of Southern California and Baja, the Northern Pacific, and the Tropical Pacific. In addition to the three main galleries, the Aquarium features some outstanding outdoor exhibits. Shark Lagoon allows visitors to reach into the water to pet the sharks as they swim around the shallow pool. There is a Penguin Habitat and a small seating area allows visitors to watch scheduled sea lion performances. Our favorite though was the Lorikeet Forest where we purchased small cups of a milky colored liquid. Upon entering the bird enclosure, it takes no time at all for the birds to find you. We held out our arms and the birds immediately jump on and find the cup of food. It’s a delight to interact so closely with these brightly colored birds.
Back indoors we saw otters, turtles, frogs, an octopus, and all sorts of beautiful, ugly, and intriguing underwater creatures, many I have never seen before. The first thing that I took notice of was the glass used in the exhibits. The glass was so crystal clear you couldn’t tell it was there unless you touched it. The water inside the tanks was also sparkling clean and so well lit that it gave the displays a magical effect. We spent the entire afternoon here, moving from one exhibit to another, until closing time.
This is not the largest aquarium I have visited but it has some of the best exhibits. Four to five hours was just about the right length of time to spend. It allowed us to see all of the exhibits without rushing, gave us time for a quick meal, and allowed us a few minutes in the gift shop.