9 Ocean Animal Adventures in San Diego (and Beyond)

ocean adventures 1291

Do your beach-loving kids obsess over dolphins, orcas and sea anemone? Before summer ends, indulge in some much-needed “vitamin SEA” and plunge into ocean learning at one of these SoCal spots that explore the ocean’s diverse species. From sea creature animation to the magical world of bioluminescence, read on to discover experiences that inspire kids and future oceanographers.

Tots and Preschoolers

1. Engage little ones with the beautiful art exhibit at The New Children’s Museum’s Sketch Aquarium (downtown San Diego). Children are in awe as their designed sea creature comes to life and “swims” with other sea life on a wall-sized, moving aquarium.

2. Climb into a real submarine at LEGOLAND’S Lego City: Deep Sea Adventure. Embark on a treasure hunt surrounded by real marine life such as stingrays and sharks, in addition to fish made from Legos.

3. LEGOLAND’S SEA LIFE Aquarium is perfect for young marine explorers. Marvel at sharks and rays swimming overhead in the walk-through tunnel. Interact at sea star touch tanks, set at lower heights so kids get a great view. New this year is the exhibit Sea at Night, which simulates a bioluminescent tide under a starry sky. Educational talks and animal feedings teach the importance of environmental protection. Aquarium admission can be purchased separately or as part of a hopper ticket.

Kids Ages 5-10

4. Living Coast Discovery Center is a Chula Vista hidden gem. Because it’s small, curious kids can ask plenty of questions as they explore exhibits and animals up close. The Center’s “Naturally Wild” program offers experiences such as feeding sea horses, sharks and lobsters. Knowledgeable staff members share interesting and useful information. Don’t miss feedings of sharks, rays and sea turtles. Enjoy bird watching on the flat walking trails to San Diego Bay.

5. In the Hall of Fishes at Birch Aquarium at Scripps, look for scientists testing out gear before using it for real fieldwork. Future oceanographers love the R/V Sally Ride exhibit, highlighting what it’s like to live and work at sea. Try on survival suits and hear from the ship's crew. A giant screen gives the feeling of being onboard a ship. Check out the aquarium’s newest exhibit, Oddities: Hidden Heroes of the Scripps Collections. The intriguing collection pairs a comic book approach with unique ocean animals and their adaptations (“superpowers”).

6. A visit to Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is well worth the two-hour drive. The aquarium is huge, but each exhibit is presented on a small scale so there are many opportunities to ask questions, participate in hands-on exhibits, and see animals up close. Dare to touch moon jellies, feed lorikeets and learn about frogs from around the world. Kids can collect embossed symbols as they visit each exhibit and receive a small prize when the activity is completed.

Tweens and Teens

7. Older kids love Sea World’s newest thrill ride, Electric Eel. While visiting the park, add an adventure that offers thrills of its own: Sea World’s Dolphin Interaction. The in-water experience allows participants to meet, touch and feed dolphins in their tanks, and learn hand signals to communicate with these intelligent mammals. Must be at least 10 years old and taller than 48 inches.

8. A kayaking tour to the La Jolla Sea Caves will get adrenaline pumping. During the 90-minute guided tour, paddle alongside sea lions and leopard sharks, prevalent during summer months. Trained staff helps guests feel safe with thorough paddle instruction. When conditions are ideal, guided groups venture into the sea caves. Life jackets and helmets are provided. 

9. During summer, Birch Aquarium at Scripps hosts a top notch two-hour Leopard Shark Snorkeling Adventure. Participants learn snorkeling tips and are guided to find leopard sharks and other ocean animals that live along the coast of La Jolla. Intermediate swimming ability required and previous snorkeling experience is recommended. Participants supply their own gear. For ages 10 and older.

--------

Cherie Gough is a local freelance writer.

--------

Family Things to Do in San Diego County by Neighborhood

Family Things to Do in San Diego County by Neighborhood

Looking for things to do in San Diego with kids? Discover local attractions, hidden gems, kid-friendly restaurants and much more, organized by local neighborhoods. Out & About . . .

Read more

Ask the Locals: Hidden Spots in San Diego for Families

Ask the Locals: Hidden Spots in San Diego for Families

Hidden Gems for FamiliesEveryone loves to discover little-known spots, especially in their own neighborhood. Plan a day to take the kids and explore hidden gems in San Diego. Tag us on Instagram @sand . . .

Read more

24 Ways to Connect with Nature in San Diego

24 Ways to Connect with Nature in San Diego

There is tons of research on the importance of connecting with nature. With San Diego’s amazing weather and beautiful, natural landscapes it’s easy to increase time outdoors. Find nature anywhe . . .

Read more

Favorite Hiking Trails in San Diego

Favorite Hiking Trails in San Diego

With San Diego's awesome year-round weather and a plethora of hiking trails for all levels, it's no wonder hiking is a favorite pastime for San Diego families. Here are some favorite local trails, s . . .

Read more

6 Fun Train Experiences in San Diego

6 Fun Train Experiences in San Diego

All Aboard! Looking for a fun family weekend excursion? Climb aboard one of these San Diego train rides. Kids (and parents) will enjoy the chugging of the engines and wind in their hair. Here are si . . .

Read more

Tidepooling in San Diego

Tidepooling in San Diego

6 favorite tidepooling spots in San Diego The San Diego shores offer plenty of tide pool fun for families, but the key is to know when to go. The best time to go tidepooling is in late fall and win . . .

Read more

Tips for Tidepooling in San Diego

Tips for Tidepooling in San Diego

The best time to visit tide pools is during winter months when low tide occurs during daylight hours. But there’s more to know about tide pooling than when to go. These do’s and don’ts from Sa . . .

Read more

6 Ice Cream Shops in San Diego

» Find more frozen treats around San Diego in Frozen Treats to Beat the Heat. We don’t have to take a trip back in time to enjoy the luxury of homemade ice cream. San Diego has a plethora of pa . . .

Read more

Parent-Child Date Ideas in San Diego County

Parent-Child Date Ideas in San Diego County

Spend some one-on-one time with each of your kids this Valentine’s Day. Then make it a habit by scheduling parent-child dates on a weekly, monthly or bi-monthly basis. No matter the time you have, i . . .

Read more

2019 Family Fun Activities

2019 Family Fun Activities

Make the most of the new year by embarking on new San Diego adventures with your family. We’ll help you get started with these awesome activities — consider it a bucket list of sorts. Start plan . . .

Read more

9 Ocean Animal Adventures in San Diego (and Beyond)

9 Ocean Animal Adventures in San Diego (and Beyond)

Do your beach-loving kids obsess over dolphins, orcas and sea anemone? Before summer ends, indulge in some much-needed “vitamin SEA” and plunge into ocean learning at one of these SoCal spots th . . .

Read more

San Diego Date Nights on the Water

San Diego Date Nights on the Water

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, a birthday or just need a night out with your spouse, these date night ideas on the water are sure to please.TAKE A GONDOLA RIDE IN SAN DIEGO. Sp . . .

Read more

8 Fun Places that Expose Kids to STEM Learning

8 Fun Places that Expose Kids to STEM Learning

Meaningful, experiential learning opportunities for kids and families are everywhere. No need to wait for a class field trip — take the family to one of these local spots or take a memorable day t . . .

Read more

Neighborhood Spotlight: National City

Neighborhood Spotlight: National City

Nestled between downtown San Diego and the U.S.-Mexico border, National City’s rich history and bayside landscape offer families a wealth of fun explorations. An excursion to San Diego’s second . . .

Read more

Get to Know the Little Free Library

Get to Know the Little Free Library

Chances are, you’ve seen a Little Free Library in your neighborhood. It would be easy to mistake one for an elaborate birdhouse, if it weren’t for the crop of books tucked inside. These small wood . . .

Read more

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!