Aquarium of the Pacific

Best Aquarium, August 2010

The puffins invariably draw a crowd, as do the psychedelic sea jellies, the Tolkienesque sea dragons, and especially the touching ponds, where visitors (only two fingers, please!) bend over to stroke sharks and bat rays gliding past. At Aquarium of the Pacific, you can lose yourself in the tropical reef exhibit that arches overhead; with 350,000 gallons of water, it’s the largest indoor exploration of ocean habitats in the world. Get to the sea lion-seal show a half hour early or miss scoring a seat on the concrete bleachers.