What to do and what NOT to do at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

If you ever get the opportunity to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, take it! Several years ago we were lucky enough to spend a year in the Monterey Bay area and we frequented the aquarium.


Monterey Bay Aquarium – What to do (and not do)


Monterey Bay Aquarium - What to do and what NOT to do.


If you live in Monterey, buy the family pass. Just do it. You get unlimited “free” admission for a year plus other benefits like special hours, gift shop discount, and access to other events through out the year.


And here’s the real kicker – for a family of six like us – buying the family pass costs only $10 more than if we bought 6 individual tickets! So it’s definitely worth it. We visited the aquarium countless times during our year in Monterey and our membership paid for itself many times over.


Hotel Packages


If you’re just passing through consider some of the hotel packages offered. Booking your tickets through these hotels will give you 2 days of tickets for the price of one. And hey, check Groupon and Booking.com while you’re at it. If you can get a deal at one of the hotels that participates in aquarium packages, even better!


When we were planning our big road trip of 2013, I knew I wanted to stay a couple of days in Monterey. It’s such a beautiful place and I really wanted to visit the aquarium. Even though we went often in 2006/7, only our oldest remembered it.


Monterey Bay Aquarium

Our first ever visit to the aquarium. That baby is almost 10 now.


Our youngest was born after we left Monterey, and our other two boys were itty when we lived there so all those visits were lost on them. It was fun to recreate some old photos of the kids.


Monterey Bay Aquarium



Monterey Bay Aquarium



Monterey Bay Aquarium


Monterey Bay Aquarium


Monterey Bay Aquarium


The Monterey Bay Aquarium was the first big aquarium we ever visited and it forever spoiled us to other aquariums. We visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore after leaving California and were pretty disappointed.


It’s such a fantastic place for kids.


It has lots of places where they’re allowed to get hands-on.


Monterey Bay Aquarium


Don’t miss the feeding in the Open Sea exhibit.


Make sure and get there early, as it can get crowded. Seeing giant tuna feed is crazy. They are lightening fast.


Do not eat at the cafe!


Unless you have a spare arm and leg to pay for the bill. It’s absolutely ridiculous, as many of these places are. Pack a picnic or get your hand stamped, grab some lunch on Cannery Row, and then come back. Again, it never hurts to check Groupon for deals on local eats.


Monterey Bay Aquarium


I recommend going open to close to really absorb all the awesomeness that the Monterey Bay Aquarium has to offer. There are several places to just sit and chill if you get tired. The Open Sea exhibit and the Kelp Forest are peaceful and mesmerizing.


There are several live cams throughout the aquarium that you can check out before visiting.


So, if you have some time to kill and some money to drop in Monterey, the aquarium is the place to do it. If you’re looking for free things to do in Monterey check out this post.


Have you ever been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium? Or other aquariums? What’s your favorite?




Visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium? Here's a short list of what to do and what NOT to do.


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  1. NEVER eat at an aquarium. That’s rule #1 of traveling with kids. :)

  2. What a fabulous place to visit with your kids. It’s such a shame that cafes at such places feel the need to overcharge for their food. All it does it drive people away!

    • Seriously. Last time we visited our tickets had been gifted to us so we decided to splurge for lunch in the aquarium. Big mistake. We paid more than 50 bucks for a few small ham sandwiches and hotdogs.

  3. That looks like a really fun place for the kids. And I loved the before and after photos!!
    Great tips on how to save money too! One thing I learned is bring you’re own picnic when you visit places like this :)

    • Unfortunately my “after” pictures are terrible because my good camera was out of commission at the time. But something is better than nothing, right?

  4. Nicely detailed. Loved the pictures of the kids sitting in that oyster.

  5. A great outing for kids and adults alike! We had fun when we visited!

    • We literally used to go all the time when we lived there. We even trick or treated inside the aquarium on Halloween. They had little tables with candy set up at different exhibits. I think that was a perk of membership.

  6. I like the big clam shell photos and the jellyfish at the end. We used to visit aquariums when we traveled because so few cities had them. Now everyone does and it seems to have lost some of its gloss.

  7. Jelly fish are mesmerizing to watch, so relaxing!

    • I know, right? The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a large section that’s nothing but jellyfish. The lighting is low and the tanks are bright. So pretty.

  8. Beautiful photos, now I’m missing my local Boston Aquarium!

  9. I just love the whole Half Moon Bay area. Do you know if you can “Lend” your family pass to visiting Family”? I’ve seen other type passes with very easy rules on who can use the pass.

  10. Oh thanks for the review! I’m headed there in a couple of weeks! Definitely will take your advice on not eating on property.

  11. I loved the Aquarium as a kid and as an adult. So I took my kids, who still love it as adults themselves now! I can see this family tradition living on! Your post has us thinking we need to get back there! #WeekendWanderlust


  1. […] some money, the absolute best attraction in Monterey is the aquarium. You can read my tips about what to do and what not to do at the Monterey Bay Aquarium […]