Aquarium of the Pacific: A splashing good time!

The Aquarium in Long Beach is a wonderful place to take the family for a day of fun and discovery. Children and adults alike will enjoy a multitude of beautiful and exotic galleries the aquarium has to offer.

The easygoing and sometimes cozy environment can also be a terrific venue for a date with a special someone! It is surprising how a place like this can bring out the amazed and excited kid in all of us.

Guests at the Aquarium of the Pacific will step into a world of enjoyment and exploration. With more than 12,000 inhabitants of the planet's largest ocean and

a diverse array of programs, everyone can experience the animals, habitats and issues surrounding our oceans. The aquarium takes visitors on a journey through the three main regions of the vast Pacific Ocean: the temperate waters of Southern California and Baja; the icy Northern Pacific, off the coasts of Alaska, Russia, and Japan; and the warm Tropical Pacific, featuring the colorful coral reefs of Palau. Sea lions, sea otters, diving birds, sea jellies and sea dragons (no, these don't breath fire) are among the incredible animals found in these expansive galleries, which feature animal-touch Discovery Labs. Yes, you actually get to touch small sharks, sting rays, and other wonderful creatures of the ocean. My personal favorite was being able to get up close and personal with a real live shark and touch its infamous fin! You will also encounter the Jellies: Phantoms of the Deep gallery and the aquarium's new exhibit-Shark Lagoon! (You don't get to touch these.)

The Aquarium also offers "behind-the-scenes tours" for those of you wanting more of an insiders look into the state-of-the-art facility. On these tours, you will learn the secrets of the trade, meet new sea animal babies and view new adult animals in their special behind-the-scenes holding aquariums. If you like to experience things by touching and feeling as I do, you will also appreciate participating in the tour's hands on demonstrations and activities, including touching and feeding the animals. Tours are offered daily, but children must be at least 7 years of age for this particular adventure. You can also buy combo tickets, which include the Behind-the-Scenes Tour as well as the Aquarium admission.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (except Dec. 25 and during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach). For more information on ticket prices, family admissions, or special programs visit www.Aquarium Of or call (652) 590-3100.

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