A Guide To Monterey Bay Aquarium - Updated 2024

Monterey Bay Aquarium
| 4 min read

Monterey is a beautiful oceanfront town nestled on the cliffs of the rugged central coast of California, USA. Monterey was once famous for its sardine-packing industry, including Cannery Row, which is now home a popular string of seafood restaurants, bars and gift shops housed in converted factories. The town is also renowned for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a fascinating place to visit, with its many marine animals and plants on display, as well as interactive exhibits to educate visitors about underwater life. Before heading to Monterey on vacation, make sure you also read up on a guide to Monterey Bay Aquarium by scrolling below.

Things to do / highlights

Monterey Bay Aquarium exterior August 2016
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rhinopias used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Monterey Bay Aquarium is a non-profit organization and is home to thousands of marine animals and crustaceans. The following is a breakdown of what is on offer.

Hello Makana

On weekdays, visitors can meet the aquarium’s Laysan albatross, Makana, during a live program held in the Kelp Forest exhibit.

¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge

This exhibit offers the Coral Reef Cam, where the amazing land and sea animals of the coastal habitats of Baja California can be seen, including the blue-spotted jawfish, desert tortoise, Cortez rainbow wrasse, and golden trevally fish.

Other live cams to watch

Other live cams in the Monterey Bay Aquarium give a fascinating view of the aviary, jellyfishes, kelp forest, shark, open sea, penguin sea otter and Monterey Bay cams.

Touch pool

Both children and adults can experience the touch pool, getting up close and personal with marine creatures. Just be gentle!

Feeding time at the aquarium

A fun aspect of a visit to the aquarium is to watch the various marine creatures enjoying their daily meals. You may engage in feeding African penguins, sea otter, and also indulge in programs like Open Sea Feeding and Kelp Forest Feeding.

Daily educational programs

Various 15-minute programs are held at the Monterey Bay Aquarium at various times throughout the day. These include Luna: A Sea Otter’s Story, Project White Shark, Journey to Baja: A Tale of Three Travelers, Mysteries of the Deep and Behind the Glass.

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What to eat

Restaurant at the Monterey Bay Aquarium - Stierch 2018 01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Missvain used under CC BY 4.0

Monterey Bay Aquarium offers three options for refreshments, with dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.


Visitors can enjoy pizzas, burgers, salads, sandwiches, and desserts between 10am and 4:30pm.

Coffee bar

The centrally placed coffee bar is ideal for a quick pickup during a visit to the aquarium. Here you can enjoy organic coffee drinks, beverages, pastries and desserts between 10am and 5pm.

The restaurant

For a full lunch, relax in the aquarium’s restaurant, gazing at the ocean views, while dining on seasonal, healthy dishes including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options, while sipping a glass of wine. Aquarium admission is required to enter the restaurant which is open from 11am to 3pm.

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Things to buy

Monterey Bay Aquarium Open Sea sardine round
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kārlis Dambrāns used under CC BY 2.0

For those who love shopping and buying souvenirs, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers four options.

Aquarium Store

A selection of books and gift items relating to the exhibits in the aquarium including unique jewelry, clothing for all ages and housewares. The store is open between 10am and 5pm.

Ocean Discovery Store

This store sells education books, puzzles and toys, as well as children’s plush and replica animals and clothing between 10am and 5pm.

Splash Zone Store

This shop has a range of plush animal replicas, clothing, and gifts and is open from 10am to 5pm.

Open Sea Store

This shop sells a range of clothing, housewares, and gifts, all made from recycled or repurposed materials. The hours are from 10am to 5pm.

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Travelers' tips

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Source: Photo by user Christopher Michel used under CC BY 2.0

Monterey Bay Aquarium is a popular attraction and during the busy season can get crowded. Here are a couple of suggestions to make the best of your visit.

Visit offseason

To be able to take full advantage of the aquarium and its exhibits, visit offseason. October is recommended, as the weather is still pleasant.

Visit mid-week, early or late in the day

If you can’t avoid visiting Monterey in the busy months, head to the aquarium in the middle of the week. Staff members suggest that Wednesday is a good day. Heading to the aquarium early or late in the day also helps to avoid the worst of the crowds.

Family membership

If you plan to visit the aquarium with the whole family, and intend to do so on a regular basis, save money by purchasing a family membership. This also gives the option of entering the Monterey Bay Aquarium via a side entrance to avoid the queues and also gives a 10 percent discount at the gift stores.

Get the Monterey Bay Aquarium App

There is so much to see and do at the aquarium that it pays to make a plan prior to your visit. By downloading the Monterey Bay Aquarium app from the official website, you can have a daily schedule with reminders, a map to find your way around and information about the marine life and animals in the aquarium.

Wheelchair accessibility

Monterey Bay Aquarium has all the necessary ADA upgrades and is very wheelchair accessible. Elevators are provided to travel between the floors and there are clearly marked accessible restrooms in the building.

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How to get there

Trolley in Monterey
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Davric used under CC BY-SA 4.0

By car

Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at the west end of the popular and historic Cannery Row, minutes away from Carmel and Pebble Beach.


Convenient parking can be found at the Downtown East Garage on Tyler Street. The fee is a flat 7 USD. Monterey Bay Aquarium runs a trolley to and from the parking garage for convenience. Should the garage be full, there is a certain amount of street parking available.

Free Trolley

The aquarium’s free trolley service also operates from downtown Monterey, Cannery Row, and Fisherman’s Wharf, making for a fun way to travel.

Uber and LYFT

Both ride-share services are available in Monterey. Download the app prior to your arrival.

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How to book tickets (from USD 50.0)

monterey bay aquarium | how to book tickets
Source: www.viator.com

To purchase tickets prior to your visit, check out the official website for ticket purchase and make your choices. Alternatively, you can use third-party admission tickets to jump and line and get early entry.

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Skip the Line: Monterey Bay Aquarium Admission Ticket

Duration: 2 to 5 hours

92 reviews

Monterey Bay Aquarium information

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Meij.kobayashi used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Address: 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, California, USA

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Cost: 50 USD

Official website: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Department of tourism: Visit Monterey

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monterey bay aquarium |

San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

Duration: 11.0 hour

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Anne Sewell was born in England, but has spent most of her life in Africa - Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa - and now resides on the beautiful Costa del Sol in southern Spain. She loves writing...Read more

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