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The Aquarium of the Bay: Experience Undersea Magic

March 13, 2024 By CityPASS

The Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco is an enchanting adventure under the sea for all ages. Filled with over 20,000 local marine animals, it’s educational, compelling, and will leave you with a sense of wonder at the incredible diversity of the aquatic world. If you have any interest in learning about marine life in the Bay Area, you need to stop by for a visit.

Animals at the Aquarium of the Bay

If you think the diversity of land animals is astounding, wait until you catch a glimpse of what the Bay Area has to offer. Read on to discover what awaits you at the Aquarium of the Bay.

Hundreds of serenely drifting jellyfish, including Moon Jellies and Pacific Sea Nettles, fill the massive 700+ gallon tanks in the hypnotic Go With the Flow gallery in the Under the Bay exhibit. Here you’ll learn how climate change has affected the jellyfish population and migratory patterns worldwide, and gain insight into how an animal with no brain, heart, bones, or other organs, actually functions as a living creature. As you continue through the exhibit, you’ll eventually meander through 300 feet of tunnels, surrounded at all times by shimmering shoals of anchovies, graceful skates, bat rays, and menacing-looking sharks.

Continue your walk through the tunnel past the Near Shore exhibit, where you can admire rockfish, fluorescent orange Garibaldi, and even the marvelously intelligent Giant Pacific Octopus. In the Sharks of Alcatraz tunnel, you’ll come face to face with Sevengill, Leopard, and Soupfin sharks along with more rays and even some sturgeon. Don’t miss the popular Aquarium of the Bay Sevengill shark feeding, which happens every Saturday! If you’re into animal feedings, make a point to check out the daily River Otter and Bat Ray feedings. Check the schedule on the official Aquarium of the Bay website.

The beloved Discover the Bay exhibit features seven different aquatic habitats. You’ll get to see a wide variety of newly-hatched baby sea life, like tiny skates and juvenile perch, and check out additional habitats that moray eels and rockfish call home.

In Touch the Bay, you’ll get an up-close-and-personal experience with creatures like anemones, rays, skates, sea stars, and even sharks. The two touchpools are shallow enough for even the smallest ocean-lovers to dip their hands in. Run your fingers across the denizens of the Bay and take time to appreciate their unique characteristics. Connecting with the animals in such a visceral way will no doubt leave a lasting impression of how much the Bay area has to offer—and to lose if future conservation efforts are unsuccessful.

Also inside Touch the Bay is the Bay Lab and Bay Lab Station. The former features land-dwellers like tortoises, chinchillas and frogs. Each was chosen explicitly to showcase how climate change has and will continue to impact their habitat and daily habits. Naturalists hold court at the Bay Lab Station, where they host animal interactions and talk to visitors about climate change and conservation. Here, you can also take a few minutes to indulge in hands-on activities like puzzles and peering through microscopes.

Everyone’s favorite furry water-loving creatures—river otters—have their own exhibit at the Aquarium of the Bay. Watch Ryer, Baxter, Shasta and Tahoe as they exuberantly frolic and play, and be sure to witness their daily feedings. The return of the river otters to the Bay is a point of pride for San Francisco naturalists. A century ago they had all but vanished as a result of a dreadful trifecta of pollution, fur trade, and habit degradation. Thanks to the heroic efforts of local environmentalists, however, the river otters have returned and populations have surged.

How Long Does it Take to See the Aquarium of the Bay?

While you should plan to spend a few hours at the Aquarium of the Bay so you can maximize your experience and see your favorite sea creatures, it generally takes about 90 minutes to walk through the Aquarium and see all of the exhibits.

Tickets for the Aquarium of the Bay

You can buy tickets for the Aquarium of the Bay online on the official website. You’ll have the option of single or bundled packages for families and groups and can even purchase special tour passes, like the popular Behind the Scenes Tour.

Aquarium of the Bay Discount

The best deal for discount Aquarium of the Bay tickets, however, is with San Francisco CityPASS® tickets. Save close to half on handpicked San Francisco attractions like the always-exciting California Academy of the Sciences and Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure. CityPASS® are your passport to savings for the Bay Area’s top tourist hotspots.

Aquarium of the Bay Parking and Hours

The Aquarium of the Bay is open every day, but check the website for holiday hours and early closures. No parking lot caters explicitly to the Aquarium of the Bay, but street parking and public parking at Pier 35 and Pier 39 are available. Guests are encouraged to take public transportation to avoid parking hassles and minimize environmental impact.

Whether you’re an oceanic expert or just looking for an educational and amusing way to spend an afternoon, you can’t go wrong with the San Francisco Aquarium of the Bay. It not only offers a fascinating look into the myriad of creatures that call the Bay Area home, but it also conveys how easy it is to destroy the delicate ecosystems without considerable conservation efforts. Put this magical attraction on your list of must-see spots in San Francisco!

Visit the Aquarium of the Bay for Less With CityPASS® Tickets

With San Francisco CityPASS® tickets, you can explore all of the wonders of the sea without breaking the bank. With savings close to half off on some of San Francisco’s most popular attractions, you can make sure to see all the sites on your list. Get discounted admission to the Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, California Academy of Sciences, and choose between the Exploratorium or San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Grab your CityPASS® tickets and get ready for a Bay Area adventure you’ll never forget!

Nearby Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in San Francisco, we recommend finding lodging near San Francisco's top attractions like Aquarium of the Bay. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

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