Aquariums are the answer for kids of all ages

It’s always tough to find events and attractions that work for kids of all ages. But there’s one attraction that never fails to thrill kids from toddlers to those hard-to-please teens: aquariums.

I was reminded of this today when my 14-year-old daughter and I toured the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. She was having just as much fun as the toddlers who pressed their noses to the glass walls that held back the tanks filled with the colorful coral and brightly colored fish.

The aquarium is the reasonto visit The Pike in Long Beach. It’s a tourist attraction akin to Navy Pier in Chicago-one of those places popular with tourists but you doubt any natives ever visit. Long Beach natives might visit the Pike, however, to spend a day at one of the coolest aquariums I’ve visited in years.

There were plenty of interactive things for kids to open, touch and watch, lots of short video clips that only a parent would recognize as educational and some of most interesting looking fish I’ve ever seen, from the vibrantly colored tropical fish to the creepy giant sea bass.

The first floor has a two-story high glass wall fish tank and a scuba diver who jumps in to feed the fish by hand. Outdoors in the shark pond where visitors can touch sharks and sting rays, although the aquarium employees were having a very hard time convincing the kids to touch with only two fingers (“Let’s see you make rabbit ears,” she repeated over and over and over).

Cindy Richards is the travel writer for Chicago Parent and the editor for

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