The Living Coast Discovery Center is located in Chula Vista, just a ten-minute drive down Interstate 5 South from Balboa Park and the heart of San Diego. As part of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the Living Coast Discovery Center is dedicated to protecting the diverse species and wild fauna native to this lovely part of the country while educating the public as to the wonders of this unique ecosystem. Popular exhibits here include Turtle Lagoon, Raptor Row, Eagle Mesa, and an aquarium, just to name a few.
Save on your visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center!
Living Coast Discovery Center is included on the Go San Diego Pass. Save an additional 10% on the Go City Pass with Coupon Code: CMGOCITY10 The discount stacks on top the current sale prices! Promo expires on March 31st.
Living Coast Discovery Center History
The attraction we know and love today as the Living Coast Discovery Center got its start as the Chula Vista Nature Interpretive Center. This organization was founded in 1987 for the purpose of educating citizens about the natural wonders of their local community and protecting the most vulnerable parts of the fragile San Diego Bay ecosystem.
In the past 35 years, the Living Coast Discovery Center has sponsored field trips, educational programming, and community outreach endeavors that have touched visitors from far and wide. Approximately 100,000 people visit the site each and every year, and it remains a treasure tucked away just south of downtown San Diego.
What’s at the Living Coast Discovery Center
A visit to Living Coast Discovery Center centers around its many exciting exhibits that highlight the fascinating animals and beautiful plants that call the San Diego Bay region home. Turtle Lagoon is arguably the attraction’s most famous element. There you can get nearly face to face with an Eastern Pacific green sea turtle. These remarkable creatures are endangered, but the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge is one of the primary sanctuaries for these turtles in the area.
The Living Coast Discovery Center’s aquarium is another essential stop. This fine facility houses an assortment of animals from the San Diego watershed. We’re talking everything from lobsters and seahorses to jellies, octopuses, scorpions, and iguanas. There are even trout, snakes, and tarantulas to be examined here!
An approximately 20,000-galloon tank is where you’ll find Living Coast Discovery Center’s Shark & Ray Experience. This exhibit features multiple underwater viewing areas where you can enjoy unprecedented sightlines of shovel-nose guitar fish, bat rays, horn sharks, diamond rays, and more. There’s also an interactive touch pool where the rays play, and local celebrity “Sapphire,” a beloved loggerhead sea turtle hangs out nearby, too.
Bird afficionados won’t want to miss Raptor Row and Eagle Mesa. Raptor Row has dozens of owls, falcons, and hawks, while Eagle Mesa has both bald and golden eagles. Once you’ve delighted in these exhibits, you’ll want to be sure and stroll through the center’s Native Pollinator Garden, where you can check out some of the plants that are most important to the San Diego area’s environmental health.
One of the most magnificent aspects to San Diego is the nature that surrounds it. You can enjoy a light or rigorous hike up one of the many mountain tops, take a bike ride along the bays and oceans, or spend a few hours whale and dolphin watching, The natural treasures are bountiful and this has never been truer than at the Living Coast Discovery Center, founded and located in the city of Chula Vista. This non-profit zoo and aquarium stands by their mission to inspire care and exploration of the living earth by connecting people with coastal animals, plants, and habitats. It is uniquely positioned on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, a three hundred and sixteen acre piece of land.
Tips for Visiting Living Coast Discovery Center
- If you are seeing other sights while in San Diego you can save some money if by getting a Go San Diego Pass. The Living Coast Discovery Center is included as are many other great San Diego Attractions.
- Like most attractions, Living Coast Discovery Center’s hours of operation are subject to change. Usually, Thursday through Sunday, the center is open between the hours of 10:00am and 5:00pm. Monday through Wednesday, the center is open only for private tours.
- Private tours may be booked through the Living Coast Discovery Center website. They involve a guided, two-hour tour of the facility and the opportunity to feed a bat ray or get up close and personal with an owl, hawk, snake, or sea turtle.
- Parking is free at Living Coast Discovery Center. After you park your vehicle, you will need to wait for a complimentary shuttle to pick you up and take you the rest of the way to the attraction. Because the Discovery Center is part of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, vehicular traffic is limited to protect the fragile ecosystem.
- In addition to the core components of a trip to the Living Coast Discovery Center described above, visitors here may also choose to partake in what they call “Guest Adventures.” These special packages cost extra, but let you feed an animal, go for a guided hike, and so much more. Check the official website for more details.
- Living Coast Discovery Center has roughly 1.5 miles of trails that wind along the rugged coastline and feature stunning views of the bay, San Diego’s skyline, and Coronado Bridge. Wear good shoes, bring your camera, and make some time for this spectacular setting.