We were fortunate enough to meet up with another friend of a friend at the Long Beach Aquarium (aka. Aquarium of the Pacific). We got a little turned around looking for gas and ended up at the Queen Mary and on the Grand Prix course! Two things we might have to look into more!
Overall, the aquarium was kind of pricey ($25 per adult, but the toddler was free) and smallish, but just about right for the attention span we had on our hands. Theoretically, if we could have managed a nap on the run, and could entertain ourselves for a couple of hours, we could have returned with our stamped hands. However, we chose to get some lunch at Sharky's (as surprisingly healthy and tastey Mexican place - but be warned: if you order a beer you can't take it outside) and then let M nap in the back seat and take the long way home.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the number of things you could pet! There was a jellyfish tank, a shark/ray tank, and the lorikeet bird area! M wasn't very interested in the petting, which is probably good, because I don't think I could have conveyed the 'two-finger touch' rule. He was interested, however in the buttons he could push and things he could climb on, as well as the big globe in the arctic area. And the outdoor water play area. Of course we all enjoyed looking at the various specimens in the big tanks. We watched the otters swim and flip and scratch their ears. We saw huge spider crabs (that made me hungry). We saw colorful fish and starfish and sharks!
It was challenging trying to see the exhibits, chase two toddlers and meet new people, so I do apologize for not including more photos. Don't save this for a rainy day, as the outdoor area is half the fun! And consider starting your tour there so you can catch the sun and avoid the crowds doing the opposite route.