Pacific Marine Mammal Center 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd., (going east, look for the dog park on the south side of road just before), (949) 494-3050. Daily 10-4. Free.
See rescued seals, sea lions, and elephant seals being rehabilitated for release in this very small facility. It is hands-off of these pinnipeds for everyone, even staff, though Sage, because she is an unreleasable orphan sea lion, is treated like a diva with plenty of toys and human interaction. When I visited in October at the end of the season, only three seals were in residence, but more than 250+ animals are rescued each year so sometimes it can get crowded. A white egret named Gracie, who is actually a he, lives in an adjacent tree and comes regularly to visit and steal fish. Many artists have their studios along the highway leading here, so allow time to stop.
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images c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers