Must-See Exhibits At The Monterey Bay Aquarium

by Julie Cohn

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Voted one of the best aquariums in the world, The Monterey Bay Aquarium is magical and awe-inspiring for all ages, but particularly children.  There is so much to see and do that a visit can be overwhelming, especially for little ones.  Before visiting, make sure you bring snacks, have a game plan, and check out this list of Must-See Exhibits at The Monterey Bay Aquarium.

{Thank you to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for hosting our visit.  All opinions and photos are my own.}

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Sea Anemone

Must-See Exhibits At The Monterey Bay Aquarium

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Bat Star

The Sea Otters

Talk about cuteness overload!  The lovable sea otter crew of Abby, Ivy, Gidget, Rosa, and Kit captivate audiences with their playful spirit and underwater antics.  As one of the top attractions at The Monterey Bay Aquarium, you will always find crowds during feeding time.  I suggest visiting the sea otters before or after feeding time, especially with smaller children.  If you must visit during feeding time, stay on the lower level so little ones can watch the sea otters dive into the water, then go upstairs when the crowds thin out.

Sea Otters

Sea Otters

Monterey Bay Aquarium 20The Open Sea

Located on the second floor, the Open Sea exhibit is breathtaking.  The Jellies section features several unique varieties of jellyfish, including the colorful sea nettle, whimsical moon jellies, and the comical looking egg yolk jellyfish.  The Open Sea area also features a gigantic 90 foot window to view sharks, anchovies, stingray, and tuna.  Standing in front of the glass to watch the movements of the sea creatures is better than a two-hour nap; the silver flash of the sardines and gentle zigzagging movements of the sharks is truly mesmerizing.

Sea Nettle

Sea Nettle

Egg Yolk Jellyfish

Egg Yolk Jellyfish

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School of Sardines in Open Sea

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Moon Jellies

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The Kelp Forest

At 28 feet high, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Kelp Forest is the world’s tallest aquarium exhibit in the world, providing visitors with a “fish-eye” view of life on the sea floor.  This gently swaying underwater ecosystem provides food, shelter, and protection to leopard sharks. sardines, sea urchin, crab, and other sea life.  A diver hand feeds the animals during scheduled kelp feedings twice a day.

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Kelp Forest

Monterey Bay Aquarium 19The Penguins

Watch eighteen African Black-footed penguins interact with each other, always dressed in their Sunday best.  The penguins have two feeding times a day, a great time for children to watch the penguins splash, play, and eat.  African penguins are endangered so enjoy preferential treatment.

Monterey Bay Aquarium 16Monterey Bay Aquarium 17The Touch Pools

Get up close and personal to gentle sea creatures at the Touch Pools. Gently touch kelp. sea urchin, sea anemone, skate, and bat ray in the 40-foot indoor touch pools, located on the west side of the building near the Kelp Forest.  Kids of all ages will especially enjoy the up-close encounter with the gentle sea creatures, as well as the interactive lessons by aquarium keepers.

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Visitor Information

  • Hours:  The Monterey Bay Aquarium has seasonal hours of operation, approximately 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. please check daily hours before visiting.
  • General Admission:  Adults $49.95, Children (3-12) $29.95, and students (13-17 or college ID) $39.95.   Discount tickets are available through local hotels or through CityPASS.  Membership packages are available.
  • Best Times to Visit:  Early in the morning or later in the afternoon.  Summer months are the busiest.  Purchase tickets in advance to avoid long lines.

Monterey Bay Aquarium 6Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium website for more information.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.Monterey Bay Aquarium 11

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