Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey, CA

Monterey Bay Aquarium used to be an exhilarating place to visit. 
One thing you need to know: arrive as early as you can, because when it gets crowded it's very unpleasant. Because it's such a famous aquarium, it gets crowded around noon, so arrive before it opens at 10am (with tickets already purchased online).
The price of admission has become ridiculously expensive, making me wonder whether it's worth returning, especially considering how unbearably crowded the aquarium can get. 
It's quite a maze in there and you could end up missing some parts, so I want to tell you the four areas you absolutely should NOT miss:
The Great Tide Pool is a lot of fun. It's a tank where a huge wave cascades down over you. Luckily you are sheltered by curved glass. The indoor area of the Great Tide Pool is the best part. Stand here and look directly up at the wave. It makes your stomach soar like you're on a rollercoaster ride. Your kids will say, "Please, one more wave, mom!" That's ok, because you won't want to leave either!!
The second exhibit you don't want to miss is the Sea Otter exhibit. Here you can see sea otters close up, as they blow bubbles into their fur to make themselves float, or pry open their food as they float on their backs. They are literally face-to-face with you!
The third is the Jellyfish exhibit. You won't believe there are such wonderful creatures in the world! We just couldn't get over the jellies that light up in rainbow neon colors that flicker in a row. The Upside-Down Jellies are so cute- they sit upside down, and look more like seaweed on the ocean floor than jellies. Then there's the teensy tiny baby jellies that push with all their might to move around! There's the Sea Nettle jelly with its masses of long, long stingers. There's the huge tank of moon jellies, and mirrors that make it look like it goes on and on.
The fourth is the Open Sea exhibit, at the end, where there is a massive tank and the background is deep and dark. Here, mahi mahi and a large sea turtle swim by. There's a large sea turtle. Here, your kids can sit by the glass and unwind, which will be necessary after they've been dragged though the crowds. Come during the show so you can see the awesome waves of sardines.
The Kelp Forest is a gorgeous exhibit. It is so beautiful inside that tank! There are yellow starfish, pretty orange fish, and tall tall towers of kelp.
The Touch Pools are lovely and there are many to choose from: rays, sharks, sea weed. The Octopus exhibit is fascinating- what a huge guy, and with giant suction cups getting smaller and smaller until they are tiny at the tip of his tentacles.
The squid area called Tentacles shows the most amazing little guys- some of them constantly change color. Seeing the sea horses and the sea birds is also a delight.
The Penguin exhibit is a bit sad- the penguins seem cramped and depressed. The SplashZone exhibit is nice for kids.
From the aquarium you can walk to Lovers Point Park- this is an intensely beautiful walk, and you will see seals in a little cove on the way. Once you get to the beach at Lovers Point Park, your kids can have a wonderful time playing in the sand, sheltered from the wind.
You can eat and shop at famous Cannery Row. Cool to explore is downtown Monterey, with its little Spanish arcades. It leads to Fisherman's Wharf, a touristy, fun spot with water every shade of green and blue. Beside Fisherman's Wharf is Del Monte Beach, which has the softest sand.
For a colorful playground in Monterey you'll never forget, check out famous Dennis the Menace Park.
While in Monterey, take a day to do the Big Sur Coastline Drive to San Simeon. It is something you will always remember!

Continue to pictures...

Buy your tickets ahead of time by phone or on the internet or you'll be in this line!

The Kelp Forest, and yellow starfish.

A slightly ticked-off-looking fish!

A playful otter!

Sea horse tank- so beautiful!

Sea horses float about in the tank.

Incredible camouflaged sea horse that looks like leafy seaweed.

A girl and her mom delight at the sea horse exhibit.

The jellyfish exhibit- I could hardly believe it!

Jellyfish at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

A shark glides by in the Kelp Forest tank.

School of small silver fish and wonderful swaying kelp in the Kelp Forest tank.

I love this guy!

Sea birds with long beaks that tilt up at the end! They stand right beside you at the exhibit and kids love it.

A girl explores the sounds that elephant seals make.

Looking at the Kelp Forest tank.

The Kelp Forest tank stretches high up!

The lovely sunlight and kelp.

The Great Tide Pool is fun for kids!

You can touch a bat ray.

Looking down at the swirling waters of the ocean, from the aquarium's balcony.

Giant octopus!

The Kelp Forest is a beautifully designed spot.


A little girl takes in the world of a tropical tank.

View of the ocean from inside the aquarium- what a spot!

Kids like to go inside the coral cave.

Amazing jellyfish!

Sea gooseberry, which looks like it has LED lights!


The Open Sea tank is huge!

Sardines making a wave, at the Open Sea tank, during the feeding.

View of the ocean from the stairwell- wow!

Bigfin reef squid are propelled by jets of water.

These little guys that clean the eels and other creatures...

Striped pyjama squid from Australia.

Cute historic photo of sardine fishermen- you can see this at the side of the museum without paying to go in.

Cost is $60 for adults, $50 for teens and seniors, and $45 for children aged 5-12. Children 4 and under are free. This is shamefully expensive.
The aquarium is located at 886 Cannery Row, Monterey CA 93940, on the corner of David Avenue and Cannery Row. There are several places you can park, along Foam Street, two blocks back parallel to Cannery Row. A parking lot is on David Avenue between Wave and Foam Street. There is also a parking lot on Wave Street (one block back, parallel to Cannery Row), between Hoffman and Prescott. Parking costs $15 or more.
You can purchase tickets for the aquarium online and pick them up at the Will Call window or print them. This saves you an enormous amount of time because there is no line- you just walk in.
Open from 10am to 5pm, and sometimes a little longer on holidays or in the summer. Come before opening to avoid huge crowds.


2017-01-15 19:05:18

Miss my Monterey!)


2010-08-10 15:33:00

The sea otters are too adorable)


2009-12-22 20:38:00



2009-11-06 04:38:00

i needed to more about the aquarium. thank u)


2009-10-15 03:01:00

I have vacationed in Monterey for the past 8 yrs along with many world class destinations and I can honestly say Monterey tops them all. Loved the aquarium and will be returning!)


2009-09-09 20:39:00

A world-class facility. Great place to glimpse fish and habitats, steelhead, white sharks, beautiful spot. When the weather is clean and sunny, you can't beat it. )

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Last Updated: Wed, 13 Sep 2023 17:45:57 GMT

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