Do you want to view what’s beneath the waves without getting wet? California has numerous opportunities to get close and personal with all types of sea life. Thankfully, a wetsuit isn’t usually required.
With up-close experiences, touch pools, and mind-blowing walk-through tanks, the beautiful aquariums and parks helps visitors to learn more about aquatic life. Exploring these aquariums can take just an hour but you can walk around for sometime if you come for some schedule events like animal encounters and tank feeding.
Getting up-close-and-personal with the ocean-specifically, the creatures that are native to the deep blue seas of the Pacific ocean can pose as a bit of a problem for the visitors. California has an exceeding number of aquariums where visitors can experience California’s thriving marine life.
Aquariums provide an enthralling look at the undersea world and, in some cases, much further afield. They’re great for learning about marine creatures without having to put on a wetsuit or other protective equipment.
There are several aquariums in California to visit, where you may see lively sea otters, penguins, sharks, octopuses, sea lions, beautiful and colorful fish, and many other animals. From San Francisco to San Diego, these are the absolute greatest places to visit. Have a look at our favorite aquariums in California.
10 Aquariums in California
1. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, on California’s central coast, is one of the few aquariums in California and even in the world where you may see species like yellowfin tuna, huge bluefin tuna, and sunfish.
It’s a must-see in Monterey, as it’s housed in a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row and has numerous enormous pools and tanks showing marine life found throughout the coast, with over 600 species of plants and animals.
There are 35000 creatures and 550 species of marine and aquatic life inhabiting the place.
You will enjoy strolling around the Kelp forest, the Open Sea Gallery and Splash zone. Monterey’s favorite mascot is the sea otter. Guests can enjoy the splash and rhythm as the sea otters balk around and interact with each other and their respective audience. These otters can be found in their two-story exhibit as they nibble their food and put up quite a show.
The Open Sea galleries are extremely hypnotic with all kinds of species, from sea otters to stingrays to jellyfish, and there’s a large kelp forest that can be observed from many levels. The jellies are held in a unique tank with a circular flow of water suspending them, creating an extremely stunning picture.
2. Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach
Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, the largest aquarium in Southern California and the country’s fourth most visited, to view its diverse array of aquatic activities and more than 50 exhibits.
More than 12000 species are found in the world’s largest sea aquarium. In the Southern gallery you will definitely come across sharks, sea lions, eels, seals which will steal your breath away.
The different habitats are also found in the Baja gallery. First of all there is a huge tank that lies underwater near Catalina island.
The Northern Gallery has animals from Bering sea. Sea otter, diving birds, and octopuses are on display.
The aquarium is visited by 1.5 million tourists and has a staff of 1875 people. There are 1500 volunteers and 375 employees.
More than 500 species from the SoCal, Baja, and Tropical Pacific regions are housed at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Seahorses, turtles, sea lions, otters, and penguins may all be seen at the zoo, in addition to a variety of fish. Shoreline Aquatic Park is a great place to walk after your visit.
Children can interact with everything from sea urchins to zebra sharks while watching birds, seals, and sea lions perform. There’s even a section dedicated to Lorikeet birds, which are brightly colored. Themed festivals and special weekend activities are frequently held in this location.
The Pacific Aquarium lives up to its name, with over 11,000 resident aquatic species displaying the richness of life in the Pacific Ocean. Lectures and panels led by scientists are part of the more serious programming.
3. Birch Aquarium, Scripps San Diego
Birch Aquarium, which is part of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, displays findings produced by Scripps scientists in the fields of ocean research and climate change.
The Birch aquarium is a part of the public outreach center of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The Birch Aquarium brings visitors to the world of cutting edge technology. Discover interactive exhibits and come face to face with exciting creatures like Leopard Sharks, Sea Turtle, a Giant Pacific Octopus and jellies.
The two story giant Kelp Forest or the outdoor touch pools that provide stunning views and an opportunity to observe the giant sharks has other animals like sea cucumbers, sea lions and abalone etc.
It houses 5,000 creatures representing 380 species in exhibitions such as Shark Reef, the Hall of Fishes, Coral Reef with giant rays, There’s Something About Seahorses, and Feeling the Heat: The Climate Challenge, which opened more than 100 years ago.
Visitors can see an incredible assortment of marine life by traveling from the frigid of the pacific ocean and the California coast, south to Mexico’s tropical waters, and across to the Indo-Pacific coral reefs.
Birch Aquarium is open indoors and in a season of rising deaths it follows all safety norms. Birch aquarium handles a huge lot of visitors everyday and its tickets are all sold out a few days before. You can always opt for advance booking and can reserve your place in advance.
Through Expedition at Sea, you can watch animal behaviors, including sharks, and put yourself in the shoes of Scripps Oceanography scientists to learn about global research efforts.
4. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, San Pedro
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of San Pedro, first opened its doors in 1935 as a collection of marine specimens housed in the Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse.
When John Olguin, the captain of the Cabrillo Beach lifeguards, became the aquarium’s director nearly 15 years later, he decided to help popularize it by giving impromptu tours to school groups and beginning an evening program of viewing and learning about the unique and strange mating practices of grunions on the beach.
Cabrillo Beach is excellent for surfing and sailing. The City of Los Angeles looks after the city of San Pedro Cabrillo beach. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is home to massive collection of marine life and species that can only be found in this part of the world.
The structure of the aquarium has been designed by Frank Gehry; tourists here can always go for a guided walk or even take art classes.
The different animal habitats that are found here is a major source of attraction. Apart from them the touch tanks offer a more up close and personal views.
Visitors can still come to see the annual “grunion run,” which occurs when little fish arrive at high tide to fertilize and deposit their eggs in the sand. The museum has numerous sections, including an exhibit hall, an aquatic nursery, and a research library.
Tidepooling, boating, birdwatching, swimming are activities that can keep you engaged.You can always take some time out from your busy schedule and spend time here.
5. Heal the Bay Aquarium, (Santa Monica Pier Aquarium), Santa Monica
The aquarium may appear to be just another attraction along Santa Monica Pier, one of Los Angeles’ most famous tourist destinations, but it is much more.
Heal the Bay, an environmental group “committed to ensuring the coastal waters and watersheds of Greater Los Angeles safe, healthy, and clean,” operates the aquarium on the ground level beside the pier.
In keeping with that objective, the aquarium allows visitors to glimpse aquatic creatures that would otherwise be hidden beneath the bay’s waves. Sea horses, moon jellyfish, rays, sharks, eels, halibut, and sea stars, among other local superstars, are shown in exhibits.
Heal the Bay Aquarium mainly serves the purpose of conserving California coastal waters, watersheds and marine life through education, discovery and interaction. This aquarium attracts about 100000 tourists every year.
There are 100 local animal and wildlife species that are exhibited for anybody who would like to catch a glimpse of the marine and aquatic world.
Aquadopt is a program that allows fans to “adopt” an aquarium inhabitant by making a gift that will care for and feed them for a year.
6. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, Santa Barbara
The Marine Center at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History opened in 1987 to enhance the museum’s purpose and provide a hands-on educational experience with the abundant sea life near the coast.
A giant statue of a blue whale stands tall in front of the entrance. The huge exterior of the Sea Center extending to the end of northward finger is owned by the city of Santa Barbara.
The wonders of ocean life will lure you and this museum is located on the historic Stearns Wharf. Some marine animals live in unique habitats and don’t be surprised if you come across them.
The museum, which focuses on the mammals and species found in the Santa Barbara Channel, allows visitors to get close and personal with rays, sea urchins, and, yes, even sharks.
To connect with all of these creatures, you can look and touch, utilizing what the Sea Center refers to as “a soft two-finger touch.” Oceanographic instruments on the Center’s wet deck allow visitors to interact with and learn about local aquatic life.
7. Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco
The marine species of San Francisco Bay and its ecosystems are the focus of this world-renowned aquarium on the San Francisco waterfront. The Californian aquatic life is beautiful and diverse.
Visitors can walk through the heart of a giant tank filled with Northern California aquatic life at the Aquarium of the Bay’s most popular exhibit, translucent tunnels, for a truly immersive experience.
Over 20,000 marine animals from the region call the aquarium home, including jellyfish, giant pacific octopus, otters, and local wild California sea lions in the nearby Sea Lion Center.
Nature lovers frequent this spot as they are driven by the sheer variety of aquatic life that is found here. Environmental challenges like climate change are issues that have to be tackled by people on a daily basis.
This is a fun and important trip on Pier 39, with a focus on teaching about environmental concerns like plastic pollution and showing fish in glass touch pools.
8. Ocean World, Crescent City
Ocean World is a lot more than an aquarium. On their 45-minute trip, you’ll discover everything about sea creatures. Ocean World is owned and operated by private owners since 1964. It was initially called Under Sea Garden and was located in the small boat basin.
It was a huge barge which was designed and floated down to Crescent City and then it rested on the harbor. The aquariums has tanks which have half a million galloons of water and is home to aquatic sea life.
Begin with the Touch and Feel Tide Pool, where you may see and touch some unusual and fascinating species unique to the Pacific Northwest’s coastlines. The whole family will enjoy this instructive and fun experience!
You will also get to know more about the creatures inhabiting the coast in California.
Then enter the aquarium to observe sharks, bat rays, wolf eels, as well as some playful seals and sea lions, all while learning about the existence of aquatic creatures that dwell just off the coast of California.
After that, look at a real shark before concluding your tour with a seal and sea lion show. Before you go, make sure to pick up a few keepsakes from their one-of-a-kind gift shop.
9. Roundhouse Aquarium on the Manhattan Beach Pier, Manhattan Beach
The Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium, located at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier in the Los Angeles area, is a favorite destination for school groups looking for a peek of the amazing undersea world.
It contains touch tanks with urchins and sea stars, as well as tanks with a variety of local fish and creatures. The smallest of the California Coast Aquariums Roundhouse Aquarium attracts the maximum visitors at literally no cost.
The Roundhouse Aquarium is located at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier near Los Angeles. Inside the place you can view marine and aquatic animals in touch tanks and glass tanks.
The Harrison Greenberg Foundation spearheaded a $4 million capital initiative to revitalize the Roundhouse, which is located in lovely downtown Manhattan Beach, California.
The organization proposes to educate kids more than anything than earning profit and a lot of work is done by volunteers. The place exists for non profit cause and visitors leave money as a part of the donation they are making for visiting the place.
Every year, more than 300,000 people are educated and inspired by the new Roundhouse Aquarium.
10. Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
When the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences, also known as the Golden Gate Park Aquarium, first opened almost a century ago, it aimed to be a trailblazer in the profession, pushing beyond simple entertainment to a more scientific purpose.
This aquarium is known for its innovative display. There are 5000 specimen of 350 fishes the aquarium has 200 kinds of reptiles and amphibians The aquarium has active research programs and promotes studies in aquarium sciences and marine and freshwater ecology.
It was the first to exhibit animals such as coconut octopuses and to achieve accomplishments such as constructing the world’s largest living indoor coral reef.
The Steinhart Aquarium is one of the most ecologically varied aquariums globally and one of the best aquariums in California, with almost 40,000 living creatures with 900 different species of creatures on display, providing visitors a view into both underwater and terrestrial habitats.
Is it even possible not to enjoy a trip to the aquarium? It’s an incredible experience and a fantastic opportunity to see a whole different world.
In reality, it’s a fantastic opportunity to see the underwater world. Given California’s lengthy coastline, it’s no wonder that the state offers a plethora of spectacular and beautiful aquariums.
Large volume of water should be kept inside the aquarium to ensure stability and diluting effects of death and contamination. Regular maintenance of the aquarium must be undertaken to keep the fishes healthy. The water must have good quality and must not be cloudy or foamy.
All these factors work together to make an aquarium worth watching and worth your bucks. California’s Aquariums are some of the very best in the world and make time for gazing at aquatic and marine life.
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