Because of Ian's love/hate relationship with sharks, I decided on a fin-focused Father's Day celebration this year. That meant hitting the Santa Monica Pier to investigate a cozy aquarium tucked just below the carousel.
I actually had no idea the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium even existed until about a month ago (thank you, Twitter!). But it's an adorable little outfit that boasts a friendly staff, several touch tanks full of starfish, kelp and sea urchins, a play area for kids and the main attraction itself -- the open shark and ray tank. And a note to all you handsy folks out there (my child included): No shark-petting allowed.
The Heal the Bay-managed aquarium hosts Shark Sundays every week, and at 3:30 p.m. they offer an informative presentation to accompany feeding time. It was amazing to watch these guys circle the tank while sticking out their noses and jaws (yeah, I went there) to nab some afternoon munchies.
One of the staff members explained that no fingers are allowed in the tank not because the mini sharks necessarily want to bite you, it's more that they feel threatened and have nowhere to go, being in a tank and all. (And of course that goes double during feeding time!) No argument from me. My child, on the other hand, wanted to test out this theory. Luckily, we ended the day with all of our fingers and toes.
What's also great about the visit is that it's only $5 per person, and kids under 12 years old are free. Actually, that's the "suggested" price. The entry fee is a minimum $2 for the 12-and-over lot.
So 2 adults and 1 toddler: $10 (we paid the suggested price)
Parking at the Santa Monica Place mall: Free
Getting all touchy-feely with a sea urchin: Jumping the shark? (Yeah, I went there again.)
Heal the Bay/Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
1600 Ocean Front Walk
Santa Monica, CA 90401