Orange County definitely has it all – attractions (hello, Disneyland & Knott’s Berry Farm), all of the museums in Orange County, beaches, zoos in Orange County, restaurants & shopping – not to mention all the things to see in CA! Staycationing is simple for us because of all the quick & easy Orange County daytrips you can make throughout Southern California. Visit San Diego, play tourist in Hollywood. Or, for a really quick & easy daytrip head to San Pedro & check out one of the aquariums in Los Angeles (or rather Long Beach)…. the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. After reading about Aracely of Daytripping Mom’s adventure, you’ll be ready to pack up the car & head to San Pedro. (Plus, have I mentioned it’s practically FREE?! Who isn’t looking for free things to do in Orange County?
Things to See in CA
I love living in Southern California not only because we have amazing weather, but also because we are lucky to have access to some of the best museums, aquariums and zoos in the country. One of my favorite places to visit is only a short drive from Orange County and is truly a hidden gem.
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is a smaller aquarium that is only a few steps away from the ocean. Many people are unaware of its existence and this means no crowds! Visit in the late afternoon and you will feel like you have the aquarium to yourself. The aquarium is home to an exhibit hall, a nursery and an exploration center.
The Susan Lawrence Miller Exhibit hall is home to three major environments- rocky shores, beaches/mudflats and the open ocean. Your kiddos will love learning about the different marine life in its natural habitat. Stop and watch one of the many jellyfish tanks or learn about what is being done to keep our local waters clean and free of pollution.
The aquarium is also home to an aquatic nursery that is sure to be a huge hit with the family. The nursery is staffed by the friendliest and helpful volunteers. The volunteers were able to answer all of kids’ questions and also explained what was going on in each tank. There is also a fun little craft area designed specifically for children.
The exploration center is a hands on ecological play area that features a sea life themed dress up area, a puppet show theater, a crawl in aquarium and a naturalist corner with various specimens and microscopes. The crawl in aquarium was a big hit with our family. They loved the experience of being surrounded by different ocean life and not having to get wet. It is the perfect photo opportunity and my children were eager to pose.
It is the perfect place to learn about the wonderful sea life found in our local waters. Admission to the aquarium is FREE but donations are suggested. The suggested donation is $5 for adults and $1 for children or seniors. We had an incredible couple of hours for only a little for less than a ticket to the movies. Parking is a $1 an hour – so make sure to take cash with you.
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is open Tue – Sun. The hours of operation are 12-5 Tue – Fri and 10am to 5pm on the weekends.
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
3720 Stephen M White Drive
San Pedro, CA 90731
Aracely is thirtysomething mom of two very cute kiddos that always keep her on her toes. She loves the outdoors & discovering beautiful Southern California. She works full-time from home, & keeps busy between kiddos, a husband, daytrips, school her my job. She loves museums, the beach and living in the OC. She enjoys visiting new places and sharing her knowledge of So Cal with others on her site Daytripping Mom. Did I also mention that she is a self-proclaimed Disney Geek? You will find her & her kiddos on the Disney tram at least once a week.
Thanks Aracely! I never knew HOW much fun the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium could be. That will definitely be the first of many aquariums in Los Angeles the kiddos & I visit. Thanks for sharing with us another fabulous, quick & easy Orange County daytrip.
p.s. Looking for even more daytrips & things to see in CA? We’ve got LOTS of ideas.