Home SF Bay Area Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco

Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco

by TerriAnn
Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco, CA #SFBay

The Embarcadero and Beach Street (Pier 39), San Francisco, CA, 94133

Good for: Everyone
Price: $11.95/child, $19.95/adult (possible FREE admission for Bay Area locals)
Features: Underwater tunnels, touch pool

Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco, CA #SFBay

Aquarium of the Bay has been a solid fixture at the entrance of Pier 39 in San Francisco for years. But, we’ve never been inside. Monterey Bay Aquarium is much larger and only a couple hours away so most locals bypass this as some place for the tourists.

However, through the Discover & Go program at Bay Area public libraries, a family of four (two adults, two children) can reserve tickets for FREE admission. The only catch is that you have to reserve your tickets online with a valid library account and print the vouchers to bring with you. We had 14 in our group and all got in FREE.

Inside the Aquarium of the Bay

The aquarium is small so only expect to spend 1-3 hours here. There are a limited number of displays. Most of these feature sea life that can be found in the San Francisco bay (as suggested by the venue name). Kids of all ages will enjoy the touch pool with bat rays and sharks. During our visit, a pygmy hedgehog was also brought out and a docent was on hand to answer any and all questions regarding the animal. Around the corner is a large enclosure with two active river otters.

Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco, CA #SFBay

What really had everyone wowing were the underwater tunnels. Guests could leisurely watch the fish, octopi, rays, sturgeons, and sharks swim overhead while on the people mover belt. It was also fine to step off for photo ops or to admire the creatures close-up. Though the tunnels are wide, it’d be a good idea to avoid them if you have claustrophobic people or kids with you.

Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco, CA #SFBay

The size of the aquarium was perfect for a half-day excursion to the city or as a first aquarium experience. It’s very overpriced so make sure you can get a deep discount or get in free. The kids with us, ages 8-12, all had a great time but it was more because they had the chance to spend time together. The aquarium itself seemed pretty standard so we probably won’t be going back again any time soon.

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Becca @ Mama B January 31, 2014 - 6:30 am

So beautiful! I love going to aquariums!

Tammy January 31, 2014 - 6:57 am

We have an aquarium in a mall near us and we haven’t been yet, mostly because as you mentioned those kind of attractions tend to be over priced when in a tourist zone. I’m waiting for someone with children to visit us so it gives us a reason to go 😉

LyndaS January 31, 2014 - 8:34 am

I don’t think I have ever been through an underwater tunnel – that looks so neat!

Penelope Guzman (NYC Blogger) January 31, 2014 - 11:15 am

We love aquariums…it looks wonderful!

Marcie W. January 31, 2014 - 4:17 pm

It has been far too long since we’ve visited an aquarium. I know my kids would have an amazing time and the price is surprisingly very reasonable!

Toni January 31, 2014 - 6:34 pm

So neat! Aquariums are one of our favorite places to go.

Colleen January 31, 2014 - 8:09 pm

I enjoy aquariums because they are peaceful and the sea creatures are so beautiful.

Mickey January 31, 2014 - 9:14 pm

That tunnel is awesome. We have some great aquariums out here, but I’ve never been inside one like that. Very cool!

HilLesha January 31, 2014 - 9:40 pm

How lovely! I wish there was an aquarium in my area.

Ty @ Mama of 3 Munchkins January 31, 2014 - 10:58 pm

So beautiful! We’re going next month with the kids! Can’t wait!

Kelsey Apley February 1, 2014 - 5:12 am

Wow, that looks so neat!!! That little hedgehog is SO cute!! I have always wanted to walk in a tunnel with clear glass so you could see all the fish. A little scary but sounds neat!!

Theresa @ Faith and Family Reviews February 1, 2014 - 3:42 pm

It looks like an amazing aquarium. We have to get to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago this year. Most of our younger children have never been.

Mellisa February 1, 2014 - 5:24 pm

Awww I’d love to see those otters in person.

Kathleen February 1, 2014 - 8:50 pm

I was just looking at their website they other day. It looks like an amazing attraction. We are thinking of visiting San Francisco this summer.

Anne - Mommy Has to Work February 2, 2014 - 10:00 am

I love visiting aquariums. They are so much fun!

Vanessa: thequeenofswag February 2, 2014 - 10:50 am

Sadly I have never been believe it or not. We should definitely visit some day.

Angela February 2, 2014 - 2:51 pm

I am sure you know how lucky you are to live in the San Francisco area. This is one of the many awesome things to do there. I need to get back soon. Looks like you had so much fun!

Rachel @ following in my shoes February 2, 2014 - 6:50 pm

LOVE the tunnel — that would be SO much fun walk through.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell February 3, 2014 - 8:37 am

I guess if it’s that small I’d look for free days or something like that. It would be a nice thing to do while at the pier though.

Theresa @ Faith and Family Reviews February 3, 2014 - 9:28 am

This looks nice, it’s great you all got in free! We need to go to the Shedd aquarium, we haven’t been in years!

April Decheine February 3, 2014 - 9:32 am

It looks like a fun time, I think maybe I have actually been there when I was in San Francisco.

Jenn February 3, 2014 - 6:16 pm

Otters are my favorite. They have some at the Tennessee Aquarium which is the closest one to us.

Donna February 5, 2014 - 8:55 am

We live near the TN Aquarium and it has an underwater tunnel with a moving sidewalk/conveyor belt thingy. 🙂 My son loves when we go! It’s educational, interesting, and calming, all at the same time.

Julie February 10, 2014 - 10:13 am

Oooh, another place in San Francisco I need to visit! My husband’s company is based out of the Bay Area so he travels there every few months; one of these trips I need to tag along. 🙂

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