Monday, January 5, 2015

The Monterey Aquarium - One Of The Best In The World!

Now that you've saved money by going on some of my budget day trips, maybe you can splurge on a non-budget day trip, because this one is definitely non budget! The Monterey Bay Aquarium is expensive, but when you visit the facilities and see their unparalleled tanks, aquariums and marine inhabitants, you'll understand why. This place is gorgeous, and if you stay four hours or more you will definitely get your money's worth.

Swirling Pacific Sardines In The Kelp Forest Exhibit

 So let's get the prices over with: rounding up - adult tickets are $40; children (3 - 12) are $25; students (13 - 17 or with college ID) are $35; and seniors (65 and up) are $35. Children under three are free. There is also a military discount and corporate/ credit union programs. If you plan on visiting the aquarium more than once during the year, you should definitely consider getting a membership.

We did what we could to save money. We parked in the Cannery Row Garage for a flat fee of $10 (this was cheaper than the $20 fee in another lot close by). The lot is located at 601 Foam Street  between Hoffman and Prescott Streets. And it had nice public restrooms next door. Even better, there is an old-fashioned candy store next to the pedestrian exit on Wave Street (601 Wave Street), called The Candy Baron.

Kid in a candy store!

 We also brought our lunch in a backpack. They have a deli, but because it's the only food place in the aquarium, it is expensive. We sneaked our lunch at one of their tables, but if the weather is good you can eat out on one of the aquarium decks.  Guard your food though, the seagulls have been known to snatch it right out of people's hands.

Deck View - Otters, Seals And Even Whales Can Often Be Seen

The Monterey Aquarium has 12 exhibits including, Sea Otters, Jellyfish, Tentacles, The Kelp Forest, The Open Ocean and more. For parents with small children, there is a must see, or do, exhibit called The Splash Zone. This is a hands on touching, jumping, crawling outlet for inpatient toddlers and their exhausted parents. It's the noisiest area in the whole place!

There's a lot more to the Splash Zone than this, unfortunately I only took one photo.
 Now I will leave you with a few pictures to entice you to visit. I did not use my flash, so could only take a few photos in some of the brightest exhibits. This is just a small sample and does not begin to do the aquarium justice.

The Entrance, Located at one end of Cannery Row
Check out their live Jellyfish Web Cam!

Inside a wave!
It's really too bad I didn't get more pictures but that's because I was taking my time to observe, enjoy and soak it all in. You don't want to be a slave to your camera in a place like this. Luckily my daughter took some videos, here is a very short clip.


And one more thing, when we exited everyone was hungry. Luckily, right next door to the aquarium is the cheapest place to get a good bread bowl of clam chowder - $8.00 versus $10 or even $12.  You can buy it at Austino's Patisserie at 851 Cannery Row.

$8.00 Bread Bowl of Clam Chowder - Delicious!
If you have time to explore Cannery Row, You should. There is much to see and quite a bit of hidden history (hidden in-between the tourist shops, unfortunately). In 1945, John Steinbeck wrote a character driven novel called, Cannery Row about the people who lived and worked in "The Sardine Capital of the World." If you are interested in this history, I recommend reading Cannery Row and taking the time to explore it. Sounds like an idea for another blog!

Looking down Cannery Row From Outside The Aquarium
If you visit: check out their website for directions and hours, also bring sun screen and a jacket. Because it's on the coast, Monterey can get foggy and/or cold. Have fun!

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