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What Is Needed For A Day Trip To Monterey Aquarium


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Marin Rockwell



Monterey Bay Aquarium is a world-renowned destination located on the picturesque coast of California. This spectacular aquarium offers a captivating experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich marine life and vibrant ecosystems of the Pacific Ocean. From fascinating exhibits to interactive educational programs, the Monterey Bay Aquarium promises an unforgettable day trip for nature lovers, families, and anyone interested in exploring the wonders of the ocean.


With its prime location, the aquarium provides an opportunity to witness an incredible array of marine species native to the California coast. From playful sea otters and majestic sea lions to mesmerizing jellyfish and vibrant coral reefs, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers an unparalleled glimpse into the captivating beauty and diversity of marine life.


Whether you’re planning a family outing, a romantic escape, or a solo adventure, a day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is an experience not to be missed. This guide will provide you with all the essential information you need to plan and make the most of your visit, including tips on transportation, tickets, what to bring, dining options, and nearby attractions.


Planning for the Trip

Before embarking on your day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it’s important to do some planning to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are a few key considerations:

  • Choose the right day: Check the aquarium’s website for their operating hours and any special events or closures. Select a day that works best for you and your companions.
  • Research admission prices: Take the time to browse the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website for information on ticket prices, discounts, and any available promotions. This will help you budget accordingly.
  • Consider visiting during weekdays: If possible, plan your trip on a weekday to avoid large crowds. This will allow for a more immersive and enjoyable experience.
  • Check for parking options: Take note of the aquarium’s parking facilities and their associated fees. It’s advisable to arrive early to secure a parking spot.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the Monterey Bay Aquarium has implemented certain COVID-19 safety measures. Make sure to review their guidelines and protocols before your visit.


Once you have a date in mind and have familiarized yourself with the necessary details, it’s time to move on to the next steps of planning your trip: transportation options and securing entrance tickets.


Transportation Options

Getting to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a breeze with several transportation options available. Depending on your preferences and location, you can choose the option that best suits your needs:

  • Driving: If you prefer the convenience and flexibility of driving, you can reach the aquarium by car. Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA. Plan your route in advance and consider checking for available parking options near the aquarium.
  • Public Transportation: Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) offers bus services to and from the aquarium. You can check their schedules and routes on their official website or use a transit app to plan your journey.
  • Bicycling: For those who enjoy cycling, Monterey Bay Aquarium provides bike racks outside the facility for secure bike parking. You can explore the scenic coastal trails leading to the aquarium and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.
  • Shuttle Services: Some hotels in the Monterey area may offer complimentary shuttle services to popular attractions, including the aquarium. Check with your accommodation to see if they provide this convenient option.

Regardless of which transportation option you choose, it’s always a good idea to check for any updates or changes in schedules. Factor in travel time and plan to arrive at the aquarium with ample time to explore and enjoy all it has to offer.


Once you’ve decided on your transportation method, the next important step is to secure entrance tickets and consider making reservations.


Entrance Tickets and Reservations

When planning your day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it’s crucial to secure your entrance tickets in advance. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Purchase Tickets Online: The easiest and most convenient way to get your tickets is by purchasing them online through the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s official website. This allows you to skip the ticket line and gain faster access to the aquarium.
  • Consider Membership: If you are a frequent visitor or plan to visit multiple times, becoming a member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium can offer significant benefits. Members enjoy perks such as unlimited access, discounts on guest tickets, and exclusive events.
  • Reservations: Due to the current COVID-19 guidelines, the aquarium may require timed entry reservations to manage crowd capacity and ensure a safe experience for all visitors. Check the aquarium’s website for any reservation requirements and make your reservations in advance.
  • Group Visits: If you are planning a trip with a large group, it’s recommended to contact the aquarium in advance to inquire about group rates and any specific requirements.
  • Check for Discounts: The Monterey Bay Aquarium occasionally offers discounted tickets or special promotions. Keep an eye out for these opportunities to save money on your visit.

Remember to bring your printed or digital tickets with you on the day of your visit. Arrive at the aquarium according to your reservation time, if applicable, to ensure a seamless entry process. With your tickets secured, it’s time to prepare for your visit by knowing what to bring.


What to Bring

When preparing for your day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it’s important to pack the essentials to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here’s a checklist of what to bring:

  • Comfortable Clothing: Wear comfortable attire, such as light layers, as the temperature inside the aquarium may vary. Also, consider wearing comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking.
  • Sun Protection: If you plan to explore the outdoor areas or visit the nearby beach, don’t forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is important, so bring a reusable water bottle to refill throughout the day. The aquarium has water fountains available for visitors.
  • Camera or Smartphone: Capture the incredible marine life and beautiful exhibits by bringing along your camera or smartphone. Make sure they are fully charged or bring extra batteries/charging cables.
  • Snacks: While the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers several dining options, you may want to bring some snacks to keep you energized between meals or for a quick bite during your visit.
  • Cash or Card: Although most transactions are card-friendly, it’s always a good idea to bring some cash for any smaller purchases or emergencies.
  • Identification and Tickets: Don’t forget to bring your identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, especially if you are a member and need to verify your membership. Also, have your printed or digital entrance tickets ready for scanning.

It’s worth noting that large backpacks or bags may be subject to inspection before entering the aquarium, so use a smaller bag or backpack to carry your belongings.


By packing these essentials, you’ll be well-prepared for an enjoyable and stress-free day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.


Exploring the Aquarium

Once you’ve arrived at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and entered the facility, it’s time to dive into the wonders of the ocean. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time exploring the aquarium:

  • Start with the Highlights: The aquarium is home to numerous exhibits, so it can be helpful to prioritize which ones you’re most interested in. Be sure to visit popular attractions like the Open Sea exhibit, the Kelp Forest, and the Penguin Habitat.
  • Engage with Educators: Throughout the aquarium, you’ll find knowledgeable educators who can provide valuable insights about the marine life and ecosystems. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and learn from their expertise.
  • Take Advantage of Interactive Exhibits: The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers interactive exhibits and touch pools that allow you to get up close and personal with certain species. Make the most of these opportunities to have hands-on experiences.
  • Attend Feeding Sessions and Presentations: Check the aquarium’s schedule for feeding sessions and presentations. These events provide a chance to witness the aquarium’s residents being fed and learn more about their behavior and biology.
  • Explore Outdoor Spaces: The aquarium features beautiful outdoor areas with stunning views of the coastline. Take a break and enjoy the scenery, and if weather permits, venture down to the nearby beach for a refreshing walk.
  • Capture Memories: Document your visit by taking photos and videos of the fascinating marine life and exhibits. However, remember to be respectful of the animals and follow any photography guidelines or restrictions in place.

Keep in mind that the aquarium can get crowded, especially during peak hours and weekends. Take your time to fully appreciate each exhibit and be patient if certain areas are congested. Remember, it’s about the experience and immersion in the wonders of the ocean.


Once you’ve explored the aquarium to your heart’s content, it’s time to refuel and satisfy your appetite at one of the dining options available.


Dining Options

After a delightful day of exploring the Monterey Bay Aquarium, you’ll likely work up an appetite. Fortunately, the aquarium offers a variety of dining options to satisfy your hunger. Here are some choices to consider:

  • The Bay View Café: Located on the upper level of the aquarium, the Bay View Café offers a casual dining experience with a panoramic view of the Monterey Bay. Enjoy a range of delicious dishes, including sandwiches, salads, and hot entrees.
  • The Coffee Bar: For a quick pick-me-up, visit the Coffee Bar and indulge in a freshly brewed coffee, tea, or a snack to keep you energized throughout your visit.
  • The Portola Restaurant: If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience, the Portola Restaurant, located adjacent to the aquarium, offers an exquisite menu showcasing sustainable and locally sourced ingredients. Reservations are recommended for this fine dining experience.
  • Picnic Areas: If you prefer to bring your own food, the aquarium provides outdoor picnic areas where you can enjoy your packed lunch or snacks. These spots offer a relaxing atmosphere surrounded by the beautiful coastal landscape.

Whether you desire a quick bite or a more leisurely dining experience, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has options to suit every palate and preference. Keep in mind that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, dining availability and protocols may be subject to change. It’s a good idea to check the aquarium’s website for the latest information and any guidelines that may be in place.


Now that you’ve had a satisfying meal, you may be interested in exploring some nearby attractions and activities to continue your day trip.


Nearby Attractions and Activities

While the Monterey Bay Aquarium is an incredible attraction on its own, there are also many other exciting sights and activities to enjoy in the surrounding area. Here are some nearby attractions to consider adding to your itinerary:

  • Cannery Row: Just steps away from the aquarium is Cannery Row, a historic street brimming with shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Take a stroll along this vibrant strip and soak in the lively atmosphere.
  • Monterey Bay Coastal Trail: If you’re in the mood for some outdoor adventure, explore the scenic Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. This trail runs along the coastline and offers breathtaking views, perfect for a leisurely walk, jog, or bike ride.
  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center: Expand your knowledge of the marine world by visiting the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center. This interactive center showcases the diverse habitats and wildlife found in the sanctuary.
  • Monterey Bay Whale Watching: Embark on an unforgettable whale watching excursion to witness magnificent marine mammals in their natural habitat. Several tour operators offer guided trips from Monterey Bay, providing an opportunity to spot whales, dolphins, and other marine creatures.
  • Monterey Bay State Historic Park: Immerse yourself in history at the Monterey Bay State Historic Park. Explore historic buildings, gardens, and museums that offer insight into the area’s rich cultural heritage.
  • 17-Mile Drive: Take a scenic drive along the famous 17-Mile Drive, which winds its way through iconic landmarks like Pebble Beach Golf Links and the Lone Cypress Tree. Breathtaking vistas and stunning coastline views await you.

These are just a few of the many attractions and activities to explore near the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Whether you’re interested in shopping, outdoor pursuits, history, or natural beauty, you’ll find something to suit your interests in this incredible coastal region.


As your day trip comes to an end, reflect on the remarkable experiences and memories you’ve made. The Monterey Bay Aquarium and its surrounding attractions offer a truly unforgettable adventure for visitors of all ages.



A day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium promises a memorable and educational experience for nature enthusiasts, families, and anyone eager to explore the wonders of the ocean. From captivating exhibits to interactive educational programs, this world-renowned aquarium offers a glimpse into the diverse marine life and ecosystems of the California coast.


When planning your trip, remember to choose the right day, research admission prices, and consider making reservations in advance. It is important to explore transportation options and secure your entrance tickets to ensure a seamless visit. Packing essentials such as comfortable clothing, sun protection, a reusable water bottle, and a camera will enhance your experience.


During your visit, immerse yourself in the captivating exhibits, engage with educators, and take advantage of interactive experiences. Capture memories of the incredible marine life and make sure to explore the outdoor areas for stunning coastal views. Refuel at the various dining options available, or enjoy a picnic in the beautiful surroundings.


Extend your day trip by exploring nearby attractions such as Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, or embark on a whale watching excursion. Delve into the area’s history at the Monterey Bay State Historic Park or enjoy a scenic drive along the iconic 17-Mile Drive.


As your day trip draws to a close, cherish the memories and experiences you’ve gathered. The Monterey Bay Aquarium and its surroundings offer a captivating blend of nature, education, and entertainment, providing visitors with an unforgettable journey through the wonders of the ocean.