Aquarium Of The Bay in San Francisco!
Located in the iconic, busy, and vibrant PIER 39, this fascinating aquarium allows kids to discover the beauty and diversity of Northern California's aquatic life.
The aquarium is home to more than 20,000 marine animals, including sleek sharks and rays, incredibly hypnotic jellyfish, a strange but wonderful octopus, and the cutest river otters you will ever see - just to name a few!
The animals are presented in a way that kids will love too. Make sure you stand around watching the colors change in the jellyfish tank. You can see right through them and really appreciate their complexity. There is a fun portal in the octopus tank that kids can stick their heads in, and feel like they are under the ocean.
Another fun experience is the Sharks Of Alcatraz Tunnel. You can explore the deeper waters of San Francisco Bay in the second crystal-clear tunnel exhibit. (The first is the Near Shore tunnel that showcases creatures that live in the shallow depths - and there are some pretty big fish in there!)
Kids will get a kick out of seeing the cute faces of the rays swimming overhead, and learning about the docile nature of many sharks.
Another fun feature of Aquarium Of The Bay is the touch pool. The magic of the bay is literally at your fingertips as you can touch rays, skates, sea stars, and even sharks! Make sure you read the sign as to where you can touch these creatures to ensure they stay happy and healthy as you play with them. Don't forget to roll up those sleeves either!
An exhibit we loved that was a surprise was the Chinchilla exhibit. Adorably soft and we just wanted to take them home with us! The tiny tree frogs were also fun to see, trying to spot them hidden in the leaves.
Make sure you allow time for the river otters too. There are four in the gallery, and one - Shasta - was actually saved from the Louisiana fur trade, which we just loved. Kids can really gain an understanding of conservation at the aquarium, which was important to us.
All of the galleries are clearly marked, with informative signs explaining all about the wildlife, their habits and habitats, and also about what they can do to make a difference in their homes. Explanations about plastic in the ocean and the detriment to wildlife, as well as the consequences of shark fin soup were great touches.
Ensure you check out the keeper talks and feedings that are happening during the day of your visit, as these are great fun and really keep the kids entertained.
They even offered informative wallet cards on what seafood is sustainable, and what should be avoided if you want to ensure what you eat isn't harming the planet.
Overall, we just loved our day out at the Aquarium Of The Bay. The staff was so lovely and helpful, always asking if we needed help, and offering up fun facts about the exhibits we were looking at. You could tell everyone just adored the animals, and really cared about educating visitors as they walked around, which was really lovely to see.
Definitely worth a visit during any family day out in San Francisco!
PIER 39 The Embarcadero & Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Family: of 4: $80
January 1 - June 16: 10am - 6pm
June 17 - September 3: 9am - 8pm
September 4 - December 31: 10am - 6pm
Call for hours on Nov 22 and Dec 24. Closed December 25.