The Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista is full of surprises including a bald eagle, endangered sea turtles and a touch tank where kids can learn about sea creatures. My kids and I were excited to explore this zoo and aquarium located on the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge that is dedicated to conservation and taking care of our coastal environment.
Being greeted by Emerald, an Atlantic Sea Turtle at the entrance was a great way to spark interest in the museum. My kids were immediately engaged and started their exploration, hunting for how many different types of animals they could find. While they learned about the animals that make up San Diego’s watersheds, they discovered an octopus, jellyfish, seahorses and lots of colorful fish in the aquarium. They also enjoyed seeing native reptiles such as iguanas and snakes and invertebrates such as tarantulas and scorpions.
The museum has two areas where kids can touch animals. My kids spent a lot of time poking the sea anemones and starfish in the touch tank. And, the Shark and Ray Experience was amazing!
We saw leopard, horn and swell sharks and over a dozen bat rays that you could reach out and touch in a safe deep tank.
Along Raptor Row and Eagle Mesa we saw owls, hawks, falcons a bald eagle and a golden eagle. My kids were in awe of the scale of the bald eagle, it was fun for them to see the national symbol of the United States.
After the bird area we took a walk in the Native Pollinator Garden where my kids learned about the lifecycle of a butterfly and the importance of bees in our garden. Then, we concluded our visit by taking a peaceful ten minute walk down to the San Diego Bay along one of the many stroller friendly trails.
Here are some visitor tips to help you prepare for your museum adventure:
- The museum is on a National Wildlife Refuge so there is no parking on site. You must park in a lot here and take a quick three minute shuttle. The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
- Check out their daily Animal Presentations: 11:00 am Eagle Presentation, 1:00 pm Sea Turtle Presentation and 1:30 pm Shark and Ray Presentations. This is a great opportunity to learn more about these animals.
- Ask the front desk to check out some binoculars to take along your hike to the Bay if you have bird watchers in your family.
- Cool Down Coffee is close to the museum and has good coffee and breakfast/lunch options.