Chilling in Long Beach

I wasn’t really expecting to discover anything new and peaceful on a recent weekday visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific. I love the place and was looking forward to showing it to Theo, but this was at least my fifth trip here and I knew what to expect: impressive collections of sting rays, sharks, and clownfish, surrounded by lots and lots of kids on school field trips.

But we took our time exploring and reached the tanks of sea jellies after the pint-size crowds had thinned. I never had a chance to stop and appreciate their graceful beauty before. Some tanks housed dozens of tiny luminescent jellies, while others featured just one or two as big as basketballs hovering amid an ethereal blue background. Theo dubbed them flowers at first, but was persuaded to say jellyfish by the end of the day.

The other peaceful element of our trip was lunch on the balcony of the aquarium’s restaurant, Cafe Scuba. I had always assumed it was just another overpriced eatery within an attraction. But the fried fish tacos, at a reasonable $7 and made from locally caught sea bass, rank right up there with east L.A.’s finest. I’m sure the deck gets busy on weekends, but T and I had it (and its fabulous marina views) all to ourselves.

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