Things to Do at the Living Coast Discovery Center (formerly Chula Vista Nature Center & Aquarium)


Location: Chula Vista (9 Miles / 12 Minutes South of Downtown San Diego)

Hours: Daily 10AM – 4PM

Cost: $14 ($9 for Children 4-17, Students with ID, Seniors 65+)

Features: Wetland of International Importance; Petting Pool with Stingrays and Sharks; Up-Close Views of Endangered Green Sea Turtles, a Bald Eagle, and Golden Eagles; Butterfly and Humming Bird Garden; Nature Trails

Chula Vista Nature Center Highlights: The southwestern corner of the United States is home to one of the most internationally significant wetlands in the world. This area is comprised of four National Wildlife Refuges. The Chula Vista Nature Center is one of two nature centers, the other being the Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center, that provide visitors insight into the Wildlife Refuges.

The Chula Vista Nature Center provides a rare opportunity to see the national bird of the United States, the bald eagle, up close and in person. You will find a number of raptors and shorebirds on display in the aviary. Over 370 species of birds pass through the surrounding wildlife refuge as they travel along one of the few remaining wildlife corridors in America. It stretches from Siberia to South America. For people who want more information on bird watching in San Diego, the Nature Center has put together a guide to the best bird watching spots in San Diego County.

The aquarium is home to sharks, jellyfish, and a sting-ray petting pool. In the Discovery Center, you will get to see a turtle lagoon that includes the endangered Green Sea Turtles. Additional fish tanks and an outdoor garden provide visitors a close glimpse of the wildlife living in the surrounding wetlands.

Display descriptions are written in both English and Spanish.  Slideshows and videos are placed next to a number of the displays providing a more in-depth look at the animals in their natural habitat. The Nature Center is very popular with families because it is a small facility with many interactive exhibits (including the petting pool). It is the perfect place to bring kids to learn about nature and be entertained for a couple hours.

Outside of the Nature Center, you can walk down any one of a number of trails through the surrounding wildlife habitat. The dirt trails are flat and go all the way to the San Diego Bay.

What to Expect

  • Plan on spending about two hours exploring the Nature Center.
  • Exhibits are both indoors and outdoors so take the outdoor weather into account when planning your visit.
  • Guided tours of the Nature Center and surrounding trails are available at 2PM on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • There is a Gift Shop selling books, videos, clothing, and other wildlife novelty items.

Food – The gift shop sells light snacks and drinks. You are allowed to bring your own picnic to enjoy on the outdoor deck, which provides a nice view of the surrounding wildlife area. There is a seafood restaurant and Mexican restaurant on Bay Boulevard just outside of the Nature Center parking area. If you head east on E Street, you will find several more options just a quarter mile from the parking lot.

Information on Visiting the Chula Vista Nature Center

Admission Costs / Nature Center Web Site: (Costs are Approximate)

  • Parking is Free
  • $14 for Adults
  • $9 for Kids 4 – 17, Students with I.D., and Seniors 65 and over.

Directions from Google Maps to 1000 Gunpowder Point Drive in Chula Vista, CA 91910. Make a right turn at the end of the exit to enter the parking lot. (Watch out for cyclists when you make the right turn. There is a bike trail between the end of the exit and the parking lot.) You will take a free shuttle from the parking lot to the Nature Center.

Traffic – Travel to the Tijuana Estuary is relatively easy during the standard Visitor Center hours.

Transit – The Blue Trolley Line takes you to the Bayfront / E Street Trolley Station. The Visitor Center at the station will arrange a free shuttle pick-up. (See San Diego Transit Information for access to the Trolley Maps and the online Transit Planner.)

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: Aquariums & Zoos, Flower Gardens, Kids Attractions & Activities, South Bay, Wildlife - Places to See |

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