B reviews,  Bug,  out out out of the house!,  The Zoo,  travel

Visiting the Aquarium

giant seaweed

The other day Baby Bug and I went to the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific with Whoorl and her family. We drove separately and then got lost and only really hung out with Whoorl for an hour or so but it was really really fun. I love going places, just Baby Bug and me. I feel like we are a team. We do everything together.

It was kind of funny because I royally got us lost in downtown Long Beach. (Is this a theme with me lately?) Not in Snoop Dog’s ‘hood but in the general Grand Prix race area. I followed the Aquarium directions carefully but they didn’t take into account the restructuring of the whole map due to the big race that is coming up. The directions were useless. Signs for the aquarium itself and parking for the aquarium led me straight into a cement wall. They’ve blocked off the track for the race already and everything is screwy.

I finally parked in some high-rise parking structure with no idea where I was. I headed off towards the building with whales on it, thinking that was an obvious place for an aquarium to be, and ended up in a ghost town of closed businesses and loft style apartments. Everywhere I looked everything was under construction. Roads were blocked off with chain-link fences, cranes were lifting up huge heavy sections of cement. Oddly, with all this construction activity, there wasn’t a soul around to ask directions.

I finally flagged down a guy on a bike and asked him how to get to the aquarium. I think he looked at me hoofing it across multiple lanes of traffic with a squirming toddler in my arms and decided to give me the easy version. He told me to catch a free shuttle and wait for the appropriate stop.

So I did. That was kind of fun for Baby Bug and me. We’ve never ridden a bus together before. Baby Bug thought it was more fun that Disneyland. A ride with no seat belts! Wheeeee!

Long Beach Aquarium

We rode around on the free shuttle for about twenty minutes and finally ended up at a building that did not have whales on the side of it and that was our stop. Who knew! It also seemed suspiciously close to the parking structure. Like we had ridden around in a circle, stopping every five minutes to pick up new passengers and here we were. Perhaps I could have just walked two blocks and saved myself ten minutes? But who knows. I’m not a local here. Maybe there was a freeway between the aquarium and the parking structure that you cannot cross by foot.

Anyway, the bus ride was fun and free so I didn’t think about it too much. But when we were done with the aquarium, I went outside and sure enough I could see that same parking structure building again just a couple of blocks away. It was very very strange. Was it a twin building of ours? Should I just walk that way and see?

It was too confusing. There were chain-link fences everywhere and I couldn’t tell if I could get through or not. I didn’t want to walk all that way (they were long blocks) and find out I couldn’t get through, so we caught the bus and rode the circle again backwards.

I have a feeling that we rode the bus to a further spot and then walked backwards to our car but I really don’t know. My brain is so addled with worrying about sippy cups and keeping track of eight different pacifiers that I don’t think it has much room in it for branching out and walking the streets of downtown Long Beach in search of a shorter route. Retracing my steps seemed like the best idea at the time, even if I did end up with a backache and a toddler asleep on my shoulder by the time I got to my car.

touchable sea life

In spite of all that, I really did have a great time at the aquarium. I would recommend it for kids of all ages. A lot of it was over Baby Bug’s head but it was safe enough and small enough that I could let her run free and explore things on her own terms. Which if you know Baby Bug, you know that is the best way to do things. She hates being confined to the stroller these days. She just wants to be free like a bee.

the best part? climbing on the exhibits

She loved climbing all over everything. I think she enjoyed the bars and steps more than the exhibits themselves. Though we did have a lot of fun looking for Nemo, whom we never did find.


My favorite parts were by far the jellyfish and the manta rays. I could sit and watch the jellyfish for hours. They are so peaceful and beautiful the way they float around with their long strands of hair-like tentacles. They move so slowly you almost feel hypnotized by them. I daydreamed about having a big jellyfish-filled aquarium at the foot of my bed and falling asleep to their soft movements. Who needs a lava lamp? Jellyfish are so much better!


I know this photo doesn’t look like much but this is my best capture of my most favorite part of the aquarium. These are brown manta rays (bat rays) who swim around in an outdoor pond area that you can put your hand in to pet them. They actually come up to the side and want to be petted. Or at least that’s what the aquarium employee outside with the microphone said.

petting the mantarays

Toby had to go and ruin that memory for me by telling me that the manta rays were not being friendly but were actually just hungry. Hmph. They seemed really friendly. It was neat to touch them. Their skin is rubbery and slippery. I really liked them. The whole experience made me want to go to the gift shop and buy a stuffed manta ray so I could cuddle up with it. Maybe they starve the poor manta rays just so you will feel like that and spend money. I do not know.

Meet the Blowfish Family

I guess it doesn’t matter since we came home with a blowfish family instead.


  • jo

    your 1st pic took my breath away! I can’t wait to be able to bring my little boy out for trips like u and Baby Bug, it looks like fun! :)

  • Kuky

    “Secret Agent Josephine takes the nicest pictures. They always go so well with the stories she tells” are the exact words I just said to my husband when I showed him that first picture.

  • delia

    I love that aquarium. Last time we went was over 3 years ago, do they still have the aviary with the lorikeets that you can feed? I remember my daughter being terrified when they landed on her.

    Great shots.

    SAJ says: Yes, they do! Bug loved that part too. Next time we’re buying the $2 nectar stuff so she can let one land on her hand. I was too afraid this time.

  • DeeJay

    Yay you for getting to take the shuttle and finally arriving at the aquarium safe and sound. Don’t you just hate it when our boys spoil our fun with their Man Logic?

  • delia

    SAJ, my daughter went in without nectar (her brother held the cup of it) and she got nipped on the neck by one lorikeet. I doubt she’ll ever go near one again! Baby Bug was lucky!

  • Michelle

    Great pictures! I *love* aquariums. When we lived in New Orleans, we had the annual pass….I wonder if it’s still there after Katrina!? Anyone know?

  • Monica

    OK, I just left a comment for this post on the Mr. Rabbit post — whoops. Don’t know how that happened. So I’ll post here about THAT post: I watched the little movie, and now my three year old keeps asking to see the little girls singing about the rabbit again.

  • Tanya

    That first picture is breathtaking!

    I won a bundle of things in Long Beach last yeat that included free tickets to the Acquarium of the Pacific – my boyfriend and I went and it was so much fun!

    I bought the nectar for the Lorikeet area and we have awesome video from the birds sitting on my hand and eating.

  • Susan

    What a great adventure day for you two!
    I love Baby Bug looks like a little cute bug next to the huge aquarium. Beautiful shot!
    We love jellyfish in our home also..too bad you can’t have an aquarium full of them.

  • BeachMama

    I wish we had an aquarium here. Your photos are fantastic, sorry you got turned around because of the Grand Prix, but that wasn’t your fault :).

  • bethany actually

    1. Annalie’s favorite part of going to the airport is when we ride the shuttle bus (no seatbelts! no carseats!) from the parking lot/rental facility to the terminal.

    2. I laughed out loud at “free like a bee.” :-)

  • JerriAnn

    I love your pictures. But my Phoebe Jo came up while i was looking at the manta ray pic and said. “mama is that poop?” She is two lol.

  • Gramma

    One of our daring, exciting adventures in Japan was a visit to a restaurant specializing in BLOWFISH, raw, of course. Over the doorway, before the three paneled short curtain Dad and I went with another American and his Japanese wife. The entryway was illuminated by a light inside a hanging blowfish. The food in Japan may be exotic, but it’s the beautiful presentation that sells it. Our chef had had special training to “DO” the blowfish. Supposedly Fugu have a l poisonous sac that must be removed before attempting to serve. The little lady with us agreed only to a bowl of rice. The rest of the foolhardies delved into a platter of paper thin slces artfully arranged in the form of a flying crane. With wasabe and a little soy sauce it tasted o.k. Of course the hot sake helped, too.

  • Maria

    I’m having so much fun realizing that I was where you are in February (I live in VA). I’ve been reading you blog since you were pg – not sure how I linked over – and really enjoy your great stories, perspective and of course, pictures and art work. But today it’s like we almost met since I walked on that block this year. Thanks for sharing – it’s always a day brightener.

  • knitterykate

    Whoa! Your pictures are exceptional. And, like most everyone else, was smitten by that first one as well as the very colorful one of the starfish. Well done.

  • Uncle George

    Yow, I knew we screwed up the downtown, but I had hoped access to the aquarium was still easy…Yeah, the structure for the Pike looks just like the structure for the aquarium. It can be confusing without the Grand Prix making a complete mess of the Shorline Village/Pike area.

    Great shots of the A-P. Great place. My Mom and I got to do a Christmas party there with Isuzu before it opened to the public. Hope it stays open, it’s had some hard times. I was going to volunteer as a docent there once. Gas prices now prohibit that!

    Oh, and yes, one wrong turn in the “LBC” can land you in some mighty questionable neigbourhoods! Don’t get lost there at night. Daytime it’s OK, it’s become a fairly nice metropolitan city.

  • Uncle George

    P.S. Thanks for the GPLB link! I would have asked Toby if he wanted to go, but I know, he’s too busy….Call me if things change. Everyone’s ordering last minute and wanting the best seats that have already sold out…Go figure! We still have tix though.


  • toni

    Those are all amazing pictures. I bet your little girl was blown away by the enormity of it all! I’m not little but I sure am blown away!

    That blowfish family is so cute. Do they have names yet?