"A visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a unique and ever changing adventure not to be missed"
You hear this kind of grandeous statement all the time on travel blogs and websites, but in this case...it's true.
My strong recommendation is that you set aside a full day for your "underwater" aquarium experience and the sights of Cannery Row and the Monterey Peninsula Recreation Trail.
"To Inspire Conservation of the Oceans"
This is the mission of this relatively new aquarium and it does it's job well!
Given it's popularity, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is well known for it's gorgeous building with triple floors and two extended wings sitting right on the edge of Monterey Bay.
Because it's so popular, a little Insight and planning before you go, will probably make for a much better trip.
In this magical world of sea creatures you'll find:
To really make your experience a memory, plan to visit after hours and participate in sleep overs, romantic tours, or tank diving events. The entire place will almost be yours and the experience is well worth it!
Ticket prices are $35 for adults and $22 for children. Memberships are available and are a great dea lif you think you will return again during the year.
A little preliminary planning before you go to this waterfront palace is critical. Crowds at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on weekends especially in summer, can be intense and parking is sometimes limited and expensive. Reviews of the aquarium experience going back to it's opening day however, suggesting that these annoyances are well worth it when all things are considered.
There will probably always be way too many things to do once you get here, but one thing you must see is Makana, a giant Laysan Albatros in the kelp forest exhibit.
This "up close and personal" look at this huge bird at least for me, put all things in persepective.
Here are some suggestions:
Do buy your tickets online so you can skip the lines and go directly in the door
Do consider staying in a hotel that offers 2 days at the aquarium for the price of 1
Do go on a weekday if possible if your visiting in summer
Do be sure to visit the hands on displays
Do arrive by 9AM or face lines that can wind around the building
Do park up the hill and expect to pay $20 to park for the day (Free if you stay in some local hotels)
Do wear comfortable shoes...you will be glad you did!
Do plan your experience around the posted feeding schedules (You don't want to miss the penguin feeding do you?)
Do take a look at the map given when you enter. Decide to start at the top floor and work your way down, especially if you get there early
Do buy your ticket from AAA if you have a membership and save $10 for each ticket
If you know someone who lives in Monterey, Do visit them and say hello (They get free tickets as residents)
A few more:
Don't try to park in metered parking, you may be here all day
Don't miss the gift shop if you have kids
Don't buy food at the aquarium unless you are really really hungry
If your able to come back to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the afternoon, get your hand stamped for a 3 hour return, leave and buy lunch at the Fish Hopper in Cannery Row or the Chart House restaurant, and return when you are energized again.
The Fish Hopper has seafood, steaks and salads, but their chowder has won numerous awards.
If you have children, try Archies right down the street in Cannery Row for some great milkshakes and hamburgers in a 60's setting.
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