Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium is the Ocean Monster of Fun for ALL ages. Located an hour away from San Jose, this breath-taking marine center is the home to 35,000 creatures of 550 species in 34 major galleries & 200 exhibits. Its an amazing breath-taking hands-on educational, environmental, research and adoption center. Set on the original location of sardines Cannery, the old building remains being part of the aquarium
Lilkin.com Tips: Buy tickets online, print them out and arrive prior Aquarium opens up. Hours are 9:30AM - 6 PM. This will avoid unneeded lines both in ticket counter and hours of circling to find a parking, which you can have within 5 min of walking for twice less cost. We parked on Sloat Ave and fed hungry beast-meter twice. They do give parking tickets, be safe there. We always bring snacks and water with us, helps to stay mobile. CAMERA IS THE MUST, however you will be needed to turn off the flash. All my pics were taken with iPhone 5.
Discount admission tickets? Rarely available. Spend your money with joy, as they all go to specific programs - you will learn about them while visiting MA. Your options for discount tickets: Craigslist.org ($10-$20), group discount tickets, employee discounts and overnight stay in a local hotel for a 2-day Aquarium deal.
Must see? There are 2.5 levels. Took us six hours to enjoy. As you enter the main entrance, turn left to starts exhibits. The highlight of the left first floor is petting the stingray (stinger is removed). among other "touch and play" exhibits.
After first level, enjoy otters playing in the mid-level exhibit, look above to see the largest mammals in the world, aka whales, and check times for the Auditorium short movies. We watched a touchy story of baby otter Luna, saved by Otter Program. They are super adorable and important to ocean environment. I promise your kids eyes will shine out, watching the short story of adopted Otter.
Half of the Aquarium are Jellies and they are incredibly awesome. There are two levels of them. There is a hidden gems on the 1st floor that you can only get to AFTER you go up to the 2nd floor. First, go to the second floor (right side from main entrance, above plastic whales) to see Jellies and exit through different side, going back to the first floor. There are two super fun areas that were added lately: Jellies Experience (Aquarium labs grow their own Jellies lab!) and fantastic Octopus area with real giant octopus and his eggs that hopefully will be hatched. You can see through images a lot of educational and interactive stations to enjoy + creatures feeding times. Aquarium added a lot of new stuff in the recent years, so if you are reading it and have not been there for a while, its time to meet them again.
After completing the 1st floor on the right, move back to the 2nd floor on another (left from main) side. I won't go to details about all type of ocean creatures you can see there (i.e sharks, tunas, and clown fishes with Dora to cute seahorses, birds and penguins), but its a LOT OF FUN and IMHO must visit by all members of your family. Cannery raw offers nice experience and nearby fishing wharf is a great place to have a hot clam chouder, if you are still capable to walk :)
Lilkin.com Raiting: 5 STARS! Kid rated: 4.9 out of 5
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