Add Monterey Bay Aquarium to Fun Things to do in Monterey with Kids and spend hours enjoying the various exhibits of over 35,000 animals belonging to over 550 species and plants on 2 levels of expansive exhibits and galleries. Besides the exhibits, you can enjoy shows, play area, and marvel at the view of Monterey Bay. Located at the end of the Historic Cannery Row, we spent over 5 hours and still wasn’t able to experience it all. Check out my 10 Tips for Visiting Monterey Bay Aquarium below including various ways to avail of Monterey Bay Aquarium Discount Tickets.
10 TIPS FOR VISITING MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM:
1. Ride the Free Trolley to get there
For Monterey Bay Aquarium parking, these 3 parking lots are located closest – 16 Irving St., 601 Foam St., or 32 Cannery Row. But you can also park elsewhere as there’s a FREE MST Trolley that is in operation from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. It serves Downtown Monterey, Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Our hotel is located in Cannery Row and is literally walking distance to the aquarium but we opted to ride the free trolley for the thrill of it and also rode the trolley after the aquarium for a tour of Monterey since it passes the Wharf and Downtown Monterey before being dropped off back to our hotel.
2. Plan 4-5 hours especially if it’s your 1st visit
There are so many exhibits, play areas, shows, and more in a 2-storey structure, you may need a full day to really see it all. The kids had a lot of fun especially at the play area and didn’t want to leave. I enjoyed the jellies and the magnificent view of the bay. We didn’t have time to watch any of the feedings nor the shows and may have missed out on some exhibits as well – something to go back to next time!
3. Visit off-season or on a weekday if possible
Monterey Bay Aquarium receives around 2 million visitors each year. We visited on a weekday during the summer break as soon as it opened and luckily it wasn’t too crowded. This enabled us to really enjoy each exhibit, take pictures, and also not worry where our kids would run off to in the crowd. Monterey Bay Aquarium Hours is 930AM – 6PM, so plan your visit accordingly.
4. Get a stamp and dine at one of the restaurants in Cannery Row or dine inside at the Aquarium
Should you get hungry, you can just walk outside and there’s already a row of restaurants on Cannery Row for you to choose from. Just ask to get your hand stamp so you can go back to the aquarium after your lunch. I would suggesting getting out earlier for lunch versus noon time where both you and other tourists are trying to get seated. I wanted to get some cajun shrimp from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and unfortunately, the wait was 25 minutes and our kids were starving already. We ended up at Johnny Rockets across the street and the food took forever so it kinda was the same thing. Eating inside Monterey Bay Aquarium may be better if you’re already hitting the lunch rush then just grab dinner at one of the restaurants in Cannery Row with some dessert at Ghirardelli after.
Monterey Bay Aquarium offers both casual food at their cafe & a sit down restaurant with views of the ocean. The casual restaurant offers pizza, burgers, salads and desserts. It’s self service and is open from 10AM – 430PM. There’s also a coffee bar adjacent to the cafe and is open from 10AM – 5PM. Seating at the sit-down restaurant is on a 1st come 1st serve basis and is open from 11AM – 3PM, the food listing on their menu sounds delicious.
5. Watch Daily Feedings & Shows – both are included in your admission. Daily feeding run for 15 minutes. Check below for schedule:
- Penguin Feeding 1030AM, 3PM
- Sea Otter Feeding 1030AM, 130PM, 330PM
- Open Sea Feeding 11AM
- Kelp Forest Feeding 1130AM, 4PM
- Luna: a Sea Otter’s Story – 1130AM, 2PM, 4PM – auditorium
- Project White Shark – 12PM, 130PM, 330PM – auditorium
- Journey to Baja: A Tale of Three Travelers – 1230PM, 230PM, 430PM – auditorium
- Mysteries of the Deep – 11Am, 1PM, 3PM – auditorium
- Behind the Glass – 5PM, 530PM – auditorium
6. There’s a play area for both toddlers and babies
Not all aquariums have a play area – just exhibits. I’m surprised to see that Monterey Bay Aquarium has a play area for the kids and even a semi-enclosed area for babies. If I live in Monterey, I can just get a annual membership and let the kids play here.
7. Visit the Jellyfish Exhibit
We visit a lot of aquariums but there’s still something about jellies that marvels me every time. You will see so many at Monterey bay Aquarium. Different sizes, all beautiful and lit! And when I say lit, one looks like it has a neon light moving through it.
8. Try the bird simulator
My girls loved this simulator. You face a screen and start flapping so bird on the screen will fly like you. I was intrigued myself and tried it when all the kids at the aquarium left it for a split second, haha. Lots of interactive play – it’s located at the SEABIRDS section on the second floor of Monterey Bay Aquarium next to the Jellies Exhibit.
9. Go outdoors for the view
The VIEW! OMG! It’s beautiful! Since Monterey Bay Aquarium sits next to the bay, you can watch the waves splashing unto the rocky bay at any point in their 20,000 square feet deck just outside the aquarium. There’s even a show located outside fronting the waters.
MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM DISCOUNT TICKETS
10. Find ways to save. Check the various ways to avail of Monterey Bay Aquarium Discount Tickets below:
Monterey Bay Aquarium Prices: Adult $49.95, Child $29.95 (3-17), FREE for 2 and under, Senior $39.95, and Student $39,95 (13 – 17 or College ID). Monterey Bay Aquarium Membership is also available. To save on tickets:
- Hotel – You can save on a 2 day ticket deal by staying at an affiliated hotel.
- Group of 12 – Save on Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets if you’re a group of 12 or more. You must book at least 48 hours in advance.
- Military – Military members and their families can purchase discount tickets at participating military bases. Individual active duty military personnel with ID can also purchase tickets at a lesser discount at the Main Entrance.
- Locals – free or discounted admission are available to local residents during select special events and the aquarium’s Community Open House week.
- Corporate & Credit Union Tickets – Hundreds of companies and credit unions have partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium to offer discounted admission tickets to their employees and members.
- AAA Members – AAA members can purchase discounted tickets from their regional club office or website. AAA discounted tickets are not available at the Main Entrance.
- Libraries & other agencies – Monterey Bay Aquarium works with government agencies, area libraries, educational institutions, and other social service providers to make passes available to children, families and local community members who might not otherwise be able to afford admission.
For more information on all the available Monterey Bay Aquarium Discount options, check HERE.
PLANNING A TRIP TO MONTEREY COUNTY? CHECK THESE OTHER POSTS:
- Fun Things to do in Monterey: Visit Cannery Row
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- Carmel River State Beach: Part Beach, Part Lagoon