Best Aquarium-Slash–History Lesson - 2012
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium gets points for its excellent collection of marine life, but this facility also affords visitors a peek into L.A.'s museum past — it has kept most of the strange, old-timey displays of long-dead giant crabs and taxidermied animals since its founding in 1935. View diving seabirds in a 3-D cross-section model of the ocean. Compare various whale skeletons with a human one wearing a snorkel, all hanging from the ceiling. A musty stuffed baby seal peers entreatingly up at you from its glass case — strange to think that it drew its last breath the same year Will Rogers did. While these displays are old-fashioned compared with most contemporary facilities, their information is up to date, and visitors of all ages will find them meaningful. You also can examine live specimens up close in the science rooms and touch pool, and gape at glowing tanks of jellyfish and anemones, while researchers are on hand to answer questions about the many local marine species. But the old wooden display cases impart a gothic frisson you won't experience at the more modern museums in L.A. 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro. (310) 548-7562, cabrillomarineaquarium.org.