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Courtesy of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Key Info

20612 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Price & Hours

Free
10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily

Details

Museums, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

The closest thing you will get to an aquarium in Laguna Beach is the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center may actually be better than an aquarium because it provides a more intimate experience by showing visitors the seals they rescue and the process that goes into rehabilitating the animals.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is responsible for the rescue, rehabilitation and release of seals on the Orange County coast. Currently the center houses sea lions, Northern elephant seals, Pacific harbor seals and Northern fur seals. While not all of the seals will be on display for visitors to see (some may be in deep rehabilitation), travelers will get the chance to see the seals in their temporary home as well as learn more about the center's process and the individual animals, as well as the overall environment.

After you've gotten to meet the seals, consider visiting the on-site butterfly garden where you can see bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. Like the rehabilitation efforts here, the garden's primary mission is conservation, in this case aiding pollinators. 

Recent visitors loved their visit to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Many expressed deep gratitude for the center's efforts in caring for the animals and were happy to learn more and hear the stories of the animals in residence. Others said the friendly and educated the staff made their visit very memorable. Some did note that the center is pretty small so you only need to carve out an hour or so to experience this place.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is located adjacent to Crystal Cove State Park. The attraction is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on major holidays. There is no admission fee but donations are welcome. For more information on the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, visit its website.

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#1 Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is one of the largest beaches you'll find in the greater Laguna Beach area. The shore measures 3.2 miles long, affording plenty of space for both lounging in the sand as well as long walks. The reason for this is that unlike all the other beaches in Laguna Beach, the beach at Crystal Cove State Park isn't in an enclosed cove. Rather, the beach is backed by seemingly endless bluffs that give way to 2,400 acres of backcountry woodland. 

This section of the park features 15-plus miles of hiking trails that take visitors inland into the park's canyon and up and down pathways that afford beautiful views of the ocean. A good introduction to Crystal Cove's backcountry is the Moro Canyon trail. The trail is 3 miles out and back, but if you cut along the connected East Cut Across Trail down Moro Ridge, you'll eventually hit the coast following the Moro Ridge trail. It's important to know that no matter where you hike in the park, you may encounter wildlife, including snakes and bobcats. Stay on marked trails, don't mess with the environment and remain alert.

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