My husband grew up in Monterey Bay and just from living there, knows more about marine biology than I do, and I studied Ichthyology in college! I grew up in a beach town also in Seal Beach, Southern California, but there wasn’t an aquarium nearby back then. But now there is!
The Aquarium of the Pacific is next door to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, one town over from Seal Beach. While the Aquarium of the Pacific can never match up to Monterey Bay Aquarium from location alone (it’s on the ocean’s edge where it dips into a deep cavern), it’s still a pretty nice aquarium to visit.