Sea creatures surround you the minute you hand over your ticket at this extraordinary facility: right at the entrance dozens of them swim in a three-story-tall, sunlit kelp-forest tank. All the exhibits here provide a sense of what it's like to be in the water with the animals—sardines swim around your head in a circular tank, and jellyfish drift in and out of view in dramatically lighted spaces that suggest the ocean depths. A petting pool puts you literally in touch
with bat rays, and the million-gallon Open Seas tank illustrates the variety of creatures, from sharks to placid-looking turtles, that live in the eastern Pacific. At the Splash Zone, which has 45 interactive bilingual exhibits, kids can commune with African black-footed penguins, potbellied seahorses, and other creatures. The only drawback to the aquarium experience is that it must be shared with the throngs that congregate daily, but most visitors think it's worth it. Through at least fall 2016, don't miss Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid, and Cuttlefishes, a huge and fascinating exhibit of marine mollusks.
886 Cannery Row, at David Ave., Monterey, California, 93940, United States
831-648–4800-info; 866-963–9645-for advance tickets
Aug 6, 2009
This is a "don't miss". To avoid crowds, go on a Sat. or Sunday evening when they are open late (until 8pm - summers only). The employees tell me they get positively bored 'cuz the crowds are so light! See the 5 resident sea otters up close, watch their training session, and learn how they act as surrogate Moms to orphaned otter pups. Watch the shark and tuna feeding in the big tank, and maybe even get to see a great white shark. Visit the new
Seahorse exhibit and learn how it is the male seahorse that gets pregnant. Visit a Touch Pool and pet a Sea Cucumber, or touch a starfish. Watch the penguins eat their fish breakfast... and fish lunch... and fish dinner. And much more. Remember that you can go early in the day, then get a hand stamp to go back to your hotel and relax or eat lunch and come back in the afternoon. Lots of stuff to delight the kids.