The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California was voted by Parents.com as one of the 10 best aquariums for kids due to its extensive opportunities for children (and adults) to participate interactively in the learning experience. The distinctive wave-shaped roof of the Aquarium has been a landmark on Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach since 1998 ( no, NOT the round building with the whale mural - that's the Sports Arena).
The Aquarium of the Pacific focuses on the marine life of the Pacific Ocean with over 12,500 specimens from 550 species in 156,000 square feet of exhibit space. And while it doesn't take you beneath our (dirty) local waters, it does re-create the various undersea environments of the Pacific in exhibit tanks above ground.
There's no "spectacle," but various birds, seals and sea lions do perform, and kids are welcome to touch all sorts of creatures from sea urchins to zebra sharks. For bigger kids and adults, there are also some really cool behind the scenes tours and opportunities to interact with the animals.
Daily handouts tell you when the scuba diver will be doing presentations from the Blue Cavern or Tropical Pacific Gallery and what other activities are scheduled.
If you're not one to read all the interpretive panels, an adult can cover the public areas of the Aquarium in an hour. If you see a few shows or pay extra for tours, films or other activities, you can extend that a few hours.
With kids you could spend 2 hours or all day to have plenty of time for staring transfixed at the jellies, watching the sea lions and other shows and touching all the touchables.
There are often themed festivals and special events at the Aquarium of the Pacific that include additional entertainment and family activities.