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Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

Boston, MA
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Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

We're interested in visiting an aquarium on our trip to the CA coast. We plan on visiting San Diego, Carlsbad, LA, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, Big Sur, Monterey and San Francisco. End of June - early July. We won't be going to Sea World since we have been many times to the one in Orlando.

Which of these towns (or somewhere along the way) has the best aquarium? We'd like to visit something with some outdoor and indoor exhibits and maybe something unique that we haven't seen a million times at the New England and Mystic CT aquariums.

TIA

Dublin, California
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1. Re: Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

Well, Monterey Bay Aquarium is probably one of the best, if not the best, aquarium in the US.

San Jose, California
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2. Re: Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

Yes, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is outstanding.

Santa Clara...
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3. Re: Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

My spouse is an aquaria enthusiast and I have been to many ones around the world including Mystic and NE in Boston. His favorite one in the world is Monterey so I think that speaks to something. The local ecosystem of the Monterey Bay and Pacific kelp forest in general is unique. Monterey is the only place (that I know of) with LIVE and living giant kelp in their display tanks. All the other ones you see are plastic.

If you have time, consider a visit to Elkhorn Slough to see more wildlife either via the safari on a pontoon boat, a kayak tour, or just from the shores. See this to learn about the sea otter rescue and rehab efforts: pbs.org/wnet/… I am a member of the aquarium and just got an email there is new rescued pup on display. Cuteness! Look...

…tumblr.com/post/74097804488/otter-pup-on-ex…

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php…

Edited: 1:53 pm, January 27, 2014
Manhattan Beach...
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4. Re: Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is also very good. For a long time they were the only ones able to grow and display a lot of the corals and invertebrates.

Fortaleza, CE
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5. Re: Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

Monterey probably the best, especially if you take into account the setting, but the small Scripps-UCSD aquarium in La Jolla is rather nice.

Santa Clara...
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6. Re: Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

The Long Beach one is decent too - but the kelp is plastic FYI.

Also agree with Birch at Scripps in La Jolla. For a while they were the only successful program breeding seahorses in captivity. Spouse worked with that program for a while.

Sharon - not sure if you have been to any of the behind the scene tours, but that might be interesting. Monterey offers one but at a price premium. Most of the others one too. For more wallet friendly behind the scene stuff, check with Birch in La Jolla, the UC Santa Cruz related Longs Marine Lab as well.

Edited: 4:08 pm, January 27, 2014
San Diego
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7. Re: Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

Birch in La Jolla is very tiny but they have some interesting educational programs so I'd check to see if there is anything special doing while you are in San Diego.

I haven't been to the Long Beach aquarium so I'd suggest you stop into the one in Monterey.

Manhattan Beach...
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8. Re: Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

Sharona, I really want to make a plug for the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific which I think is under-rated. I strongly believe that both the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Monterey Bay Aquariums are comparable in size, caliber, and content. I like both of them. The key difference between them is location. Monterey is the kind of place that people go on their honeymoons. Downtown Long Beach is a nice place but couples don't brag about ending up there on their honeymoons. The only big difference between the aquariums that comes to mind is that Long Beach has a good lorikeet (a colorful bird) exhibit where you enter their cage. The decision of which one to go to would depend upon your itinerary and timing. If you were spending time in LA, then it is easy to go to the Long Beach Aquarium. If you were driving to San Francisco along the coast, through Big Sur, then the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a logical stop.

Pacific Grove...
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9. Re: Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

HI Sharona,

I won't weigh in in favor of the Monterey Bay Aquarium since I'm the VP of Communications here, so I'll have to let others weigh in on our behalf. I did want to let you know on April 12 we open a new exhibition "Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes," which we're genuinely excited about. No one's attempted a show quite like this one--it requires a great deal of technical innovation--so it definitely will be a first. Also, if you happen to have kids in the 9-13 ages, in summer we have

our Underwater Explorers program which offers kids the chance to take their first dive ever in our outdoor Tide Pool. It's an additional fee, but there are many other free programs included with admission. Have a great trip wherever you land. www.montereybayaquarium.org

Los Angeles
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10. Re: Which aquarium for CA coast trip from SD to SF?

I was at the Monterey Aquarium earlier this month. I believe the big Jellyfish exhibit is temporary but it was outstanding and I'd give them the nod over the other aquariums for that reason alone. I haven't been to the Long Beach aquarium in a long time but my memory of it just doesn't compare to Monterey. The only aquarium I've seen that's comparable in scale and quality to Monterey is the Maui Ocean Center in Hawaii.