A Toddler’s Look Underwater in La Jolla

photo 3 (5)Some travel adventures are worldly and others limited in scope.  In the mind of an 18 month-old, the backyard is fascinating.  On grandparenting detail in San Diego, while our eldest son and daughter-in-law pursued Chilean delights, we sought that unique destination and content which would perhaps rival the backyard.

We shared Scripps Aquarium in La Jolla with our grandson on a glorious May day, mid-week, in the company of IMG_4357several buses of school children.

Their exuberance piqued our experience.

Drifting from the entry plaza through interior exhibits to the outdoors again, we arrived at Elasmo Beach before the 10:30 Feeding Time, alongside excited kids and their chaperones.
The proximity to leopard sharks and manta rays JRnLuca(both from the species “elasmobranchs”) bigger than he is, just beyond the glass captured the boy’s attention.  Tight in our arms, he was wide-eyed.

Inside the Hall of Fishes, he could climb on the ledge to see and touch tanks of ocean life and participate in interactive sites (or so he thought) by pushing buttons.  Nonna and Pops and grandson marveled at tangs and seahorses and neon jellyfish.  In a 70,000 gallon tank, the Kelp Forest Exhibit dwarfed us all.

Attachment-1 (2)As we accommodated to darker environments, the boy pointed out darting and half-hidden creatures, just as he identified the missing cat and duck in his storybook the day before.

Outside, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, he joined the others at the water tables to engage in hands-on play with boats and plastic dividers, loving the wet and the kid-frenzy.  seastarHere, the older children were stimulated on a different level by these learning stations about energy, ocean currents, and IMG_4336technology.

Our grandson could (gently) touch the seastar and watch wave effects on the fish and crabs from the Tide-Pool’s rocky perimeter.  Again, the enthusiasm of nearby children drew on his awareness.  Docents were present to educate and monitor the visitors in the fragile eco-environment. IMG_4354

Scripps Aquarium in La Jolla is an age-appropriate match for children of all ages. Cost-friendly, with AARP and AAA discounts, the fee for the two of us and a child under age 3 was less than $20 total.  Compared to a $40 plus entry per person for many prime attractions, it was reasonably priced and meaningful for an 18 month-old world explorer.  I optimistically sense this day and this experience will be a building block for a child’s life fascination with the ocean.

The new word spoken on this day is “FISH.”

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography; UC San Diego: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, California 92037 (858) 534-4109.  http://aquarium.ucsd.edu/

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25 thoughts on “A Toddler’s Look Underwater in La Jolla

  1. We are not grandparents (yet?), but this post makes me look forward to the day we may be blessed by grandchildren. Visiting an attraction like the aquarium assumes another dimension when done in the company of a young child. I may have thought he was too young, but that obviously was not the case.

  2. What a lovely post! You can tell from the photos that your little grandson really enjoyed the aquarium. the photo with his little fingers pressed against the glass is priceless.

  3. Brings back memories…We did the same thing when our kids were little. It is a beautiful place. I love the hands on water table. Even at 18 months he will retain a lot of what he saw and build on that. Great job Grandma!

    1. thank you, Noel. I remember an especially fun visit in your neck of the woods with our children at the Monterey Aquarium in the late 80s, but truly there IS something grand about the company of a grandchild.

  4. So refreshing to see things through a child’s eyes. It can open a whole new dimension. Sounds like you had a wonderful day.

  5. How fun to be a grandmama! I look forward to the day, but I’m not in any hurry. I’ve worked with children of all ages, and being with the little ones is always fun. Toddlers crack me up with their curiosity and preciousness.

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