Welcome to San Diego Blog | August 25, 2016

Family Fun in San Diego – The Living Coast Discovery Center

The Living Coast Discovery Center is a fantastic, interesting and educational find!  Having been to the aquariums at Sea World and Birch Aquarium, I can say that this one is definitely worth a visit!  Located in the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge in Chula Vista, California, it is very easy to reach right off I-5.  We’ve lived in downtown San Diego for nearly a decade now and I still continue to discover amazing new-to-me places in our own “backyard.”

In April, we took our boys to the Little Italy Art Walk (sidenote: Art Walk Little Italy is a fabulous cultural event you should definitely check out!) and in the Kids Walk area, the Living Coast Discovery Center had a booth with an art project for our boys to do.  There were also docents who talked to us about the types of animals and activities available at the Center.  The kids were excited and asked to go.  The docent then gave me a 2-for-1 coupon, which I tucked into my wallet for a future visit.

It took us a few months to get there, with school and other extra curriculars getting in the way, but when we went we had a fantastic time!  The Center is not huge, but it kept us interested and engaged for almost 3 hours, which is pretty much the attention span of my boys at their ages (7 and 5).


When you arrive, you park in a designated (free) parking lot and a bus transports you into the Refuge.  Right when you pull up to the building’s exterior, you are greeted by beautiful sea turtles.  We were also lucky enough to arrive right before the scheduled feeding, so my boys really enjoyed watching that!  As we ventured through the Center, we saw all sorts of amazing creatures: a chameleon, poison dart frogs, an octopus, sea horses, jelly fish, sharks, rays and so on!  Everything is mapped out nicely and our boys completed their Passport activity which lead them on a little adventure though the Center, collecting stamps in their Passport as they discovered the animals.

My boys noticed that kids and adults, who did not appear to work there, were feeding the sea turtles and they immediately asked if they could do it.  I checked with the front desk and was told that we had missed the sea turtle feeding, but that we could still sign up for the baby ray feeding, which she told me may actually be more entertaining for the kids as the baby rays actually eat out of your hand (for the turtles, you just throw food into their water).

With this behind-the-scenes tour we got to go in and see where they keep the baby sea horses (so teeny), baby octopus (about the size of a quarter!), as well as where they isolate any animals should they need some time off of display.  Then we went to the large tubs where the baby rays are, which have all been de-barbed of course!  I will attach a little video so that you can see how much fun we had – they literally were jumping up at us wanting to be fed!


We also got to gently, 2-finger touch the baby sharks!  It was so AWESOME!!  Also, I forgot to mention that there is a tide pool area behind the main aquarium building, where you can touch sting rays and bat rays (all de-barbed) and other young sharks as they swim by.  There was one little leopard shark who was especially friendly and kept coming up to us and letting us pet it.  There is also a larger tank of view-only sharks and other sea creatures.

The Living Coast Discovery Center is an environmental education center with marine animals, animal and bird exhibits, behind-the-scenes tours and animal feeding opportunities.  It is well worth a visit!

Written by: heather

Categories: Experience, Family Fun, Featured Posts, HD Videos, San Diego Attractions

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