A Treasure by the Sea: The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Discover the underwater world of Southern California at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

Touch the bones of our ocean giants at the aquarium’s whales graveyard, pet a starfish or sea urchin found at the outdoor touch tank, pay homage to the sea jelly that’s helping scientists today fight the battle against cancer, and view L.A. Gnome’s favorite exhibit- a shrimp with a rainbow-colored tail.


As L.A. natives, L.A. Gnome was surprised to discover this hidden gem for the first time. We’ve been to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and even the Melbourne Aquarium in Australia. But, there was something special about the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

What’s unique about this aquarium is that this is home, exclusively to the marine life found in Southern California. Located near the Cabrillo Beach Coastal Park and the port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California, you will meet Southern California’s sea animals up close and personal…and best of all, for free! The aquarium is conveniently located; within walking distance to Cabrillo beach, the local tide pools, and even a saltwater marsh. There are plenty of opportunities to learn about our ocean and its inhabitants in their natural habitat.

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What’s neat about the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is that it isn’t just an interesting place for the general public to visit and view sea creatures for free. The aquarium also serves as an education and research facility. Since 1935, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium has been dedicated to providing natural and interactive learning programs for the public regarding the marine environment of Southern California. There are plenty of rich and varied learning opportunities for guests of all ages.

During our visit to the aquarium, we met up with Evi Meyer, their resident educator. We learned that the aquarium is a non-profit public facility funded by the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation. Unlike most aquariums that charge guests a fee for viewing the animals, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is government funded. We also learned that world-renowned architect Frank Gehry designed the aquarium. He is the same architect who designed the Walt Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

Evi Meyer was very enthusiastic about talking about the aquarium. She was especially passionate about sharing her knowledge regarding conservation and protecting the environment.  Did you know that plastics are forever? Plastics break down but never go away. Some of our marine animals mistake plastic for food and get sick. Pollution endangers our animals and can affect our food chain.


What made this museum stand out from the rest, is how friendly and informative their staff and volunteers are. They make the effort to welcome you to their exhibit, guide you, and answer questions. Their presence really added to the enjoyment of our visit.  We look forward to visiting again… with more questions!

L.A. Gnome’s TIPS:

  • Please donate! Donations of a suggested $5 per adult and $1 per child go towards supporting the marine environment.
  • Parking is cash only and costs $1 per hour.
  • Visit the aquarium gift shop. From seahorse-inspired jewelry, wine stoppers designed with glass jellyfish, to organic bags with cartoon whales, there is a fun gift for anyone.  Take home a souvenir inspired by the ocean and feel good knowing that all proceeds will go towards the aquarium’s research and education programs.
  • Take advantage of the museums seasonal programs. Between March and July this year you can meet the grunions. Every spring and summer, the aquarium hosts special evening programs for guests to view the mating ritual of the grunion fish as they kiss the shores of Cabrillo Beach!

For more information about this Los Angeles gem and their programs please visit: http://www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org/


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