Of all the attractions along Cannery Row, none is more famous than the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Since 1984, the aquarium has entertained and educated visitors with over 200 exhibits housing more than 80,000 plants and animals. If you’re interested in exploring this marine marvel for yourself, keep reading to learn all about the impressive exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The Kelp Forest
This colorful and diverse exhibit is over 3 stories high and is the first kelp forest ever cultivated in a controlled environment. Watch in awe as leopard sharks, wolf eels, octopi, sea bass, and more than a dozen other creatures swim through a blend of swaying kelp and colorful algae.
Open Sea is the aquarium’s largest exhibit, with a 90-foot window for visitors to view the inhabitants of a 1.2 million gallon tank. Watch hammerhead sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, jellyfish, and glittering schools of sardines swim through this massive habitat. If you visit Open Sea at feeding time, you might spot the resident tufted puffins swimming through for dinner.
Life on the Bay Ocean View Decks
At the edge of the aquarium, you’ll find the wildlife viewing station, with scenic decks overlooking the coast. From here, you can relax as you take in the scenery, and there’s a good chance you’ll spot a few of the 30 marine mammals that swim the waters of Monterey Bay. Keep an eye out for adorable otters, playful dolphins, or even a majestic blue whale.
Splash Zone & Penguins
The second-floor Splash Zone is sure to delight visitors of all ages. Head to the touch pool for an up-close experience with bat rays, starfish, sea cucumbers, and urchins. While at the splash zone, be sure to pay a visit to the aquarium’s colony of quirky and lovable African penguins.
This exhibit has a viewing area on the first and second floors, so make sure you stop at both. From the second floor, you’ll see these lovable creatures floating together on the surface of the water. On the first floor, you’ll get the chance to see the otters play, roll, and swim around inside their tank.
Rocky Shore, the Giant Pacific Octopus, and the Aviary
The Rocky Shore exhibit is home to an exotic mix of smaller creatures like aggregating anemone and purple sea urchins. Nearby you’ll find the wave crash exhibit – a walk-through tunnel that serves as the aquarium’s most popular selfie spot. The Giant Octopus habitat on the first floor is a must-see, home to the aquarium’s most intelligent and fascinating resident. Don’t forget to explore the Sandy Shore & Aviary to see skates, rays, and plenty of beautiful birds against the beautiful backdrop of the pacific coast.
Dining and Shopping
The aquarium cafe is a great place to grab lunch, with a seasonal menu serving salads, sandwiches, burritos, poke bowls and more. Of course, visitors are free to venture out to one of the nearby restaurants on Cannery Row and finish exploring afterward. On your way out, make sure to pick up a souvenir at the gift shop. You’ll find a large variety of apparel, toys, home decor, gifts, and memorabilia to choose from, and the shop even offers online ordering and curbside pickup.
Plan Your Visit
When you’re ready to spend a day at Monterey Bay Aquarium, you can purchase tickets through their website. The aquarium is open year-round, seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. The aquarium is just one of the countless attractions around Monterey County, so for easy access to the best of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, and Monterey Peninsula, book a stay at Carmel Valley Lodge. Our historic, eco-friendly property spreads out over 3-acres of serene landscape, and each room is arranged with your comfort in mind. Enjoy a gourmet breakfast each morning, spend your evenings relaxing by the firepits, and make memories that will last a lifetime.