Monterey Bay Aquarium

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With a beautiful ocean view that is hard to match, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a unique selection that includes marine life and ocean conservation efforts. Featuring a fantastic undersea world along with other treats like sea otters and penguins, this is a great place to spend the day.

About the Aquarium

When it opened on 20 October 1984, Monterey Bay Aquarium was already historic because of its location alone. It is situated right on the shores of the Pacific Ocean at a place called Canary Row in the city of Monterey, CA. This road, formerly called Ocean View Avenue, was the heart and soul of Monterey life and its central industry, sardine fishing, for much of the 20th century. The building which now houses the aquarium was first constructed in 1916 and ran as a sardine canning operation until the dissolution of the industry in Monterey in 1973; it was the last of such factories to close.

The aquarium was born a few years later, thanks in large part to a generous donation from David Packard, the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard. Packard was also personally responsible for the design and creation of many of the exhibits which were forged by his own hand at his personal blacksmith workshop in Big Sur. His daughter Julie, a marine biologist, eventually took over as the aquarium’s Executive Director.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium hosts over 1.8 million visitors each year making it one of the most popular aquariums in the state of California, which, all told, includes more than a dozen. In all, the aquarium boasts the display of more than 620 different species along with a constant supply of fresh ocean water that is pumped in from the bay which shares its name.

Other highlights of the aquarium include a 330,000-gallon, 10 meter high tank that is used to display an array of costal marine life native to California and which is also home to the first ever live cultivated California kelp. The Open Sea galleries also feature one of the world’s largest single-paned windows, which measures 90 feet across and displays such diverse creatures as sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, Pacific Bluefin tuna, and tufted puffins.

Main Attraction

The aquarium itself is spread out over two floors and includes about a dozen different exhibits, the most popular of which are consistently reported to be the “Jellies Experience” and the kelp forest. Open year-round and only closed on Christmas Day, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is ranked among the best attractions in the greater northern California area, if not the entire state. However, it’s important to note that the city of Monterey is located 2 hours south of San Francisco. This makes it a tough day trip, but an ideal stop for anyone travelling up the Pacific coast.

Admission to the Aquarium is divided into Adult, Child (3-12), Student (13-17), and Senior (65+) categories with group rates available. They also offer daily tours for an additional charge which include behind-the-scenes looks at the aquarium itself as well as a more intimate view of their Jellies and Sharks. There are also opportunities to feed the animals as well as go on diving expeditions with the staff into the Pacific Ocean. Additional programs include sleepovers for both children alone and whole families as well as Romance packages for couples. The aquarium also has a constantly-rotating schedule of events and lectures as well as a daily schedule of shows and activities to provide a more in depth and personal perspective on the exhibits and the creatures that inhabit them.

Why It’s a Must-See

As one of the most well-known aquariums in the world, Monterey Bay Aquarium has a lot to offer families as well as marine life enthusiasts. With an enormous building on a historic road in a beautiful coastal city, the possibilities for education and entertainment on a visit to Monterey are truly endless.

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.
1. Purchase a ticket from the Monterey Bay Aquarium when you get there.
2.  3. Purchase a Tourist pass. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is available on the SF CityPass