After marveling at the model of a giant blue whale in the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, go see the real thing on whale-watching trips from the adjacent harbor, or head out from San Pedro to the west. When’s the best time? Just offshore, you have a good chance to spot blue whales June through October and migrating gray whales December to mid-May. With luck, you’ll spy humpbacks and orcas too.
Near the aquarium, Harbor Breeze Yacht Charters and Cruises heads out in modern catamarans with stadium seating for daily whale watching cruises throughout the year. Listen to educators from the aquarium as they describe the marine life you’ll see along the coast, including common and bottlenose dolphins. In San Pedro, Spirit Cruises casts off for 2-hour tours in search of gray whales from January through March. Don’t see any whales? You’ll get a pass for another trip.
There are also tours out of Marina Del Rey with Marina Del Rey Sportfishing, on the 90-passenger, 65-foot-long Big Whale, which may be the best choice if the possibility of seasickness is a concern.
For spying whales from land, head about nine miles west of San Pedro to Point Vicente Interpretive Center. Perched on a rocky promontory along the scenic Palos Verdes Peninsula, this site is one of Southern California’s premier locations for viewing the gray whale migration from land. In the center, check out exhibits on gray whale natural history, including a life-size model of a calf. Observers from the American Cetacean Society use the center’s deck for their annual whale census.