The San Francisco Bay Aquarium, officially known as the Aquarium of the Bay, is a popular stop on Pier 39. I enjoy visiting this aquarium to learn more about all the different plants and animals that call the SF Bay their home.
It's a perfect stop for kids of all ages as there are plenty of things to see and do.
I also think they did an amazing job with this museum. The flow is great and I learn something new every time I visit.
The first exhibits in the museum show the smaller animals and plants living near the top of the water. As you continue through the San Francisco Bay aquarium, your visit takes you deeper and deeper into the water where more of the larger plants and animals live.
Your visit starts on the second floor. This is the history area with some videos and written information.
There are also a handful of colorful fish in the aquariums. These are just a few pictures from this area.
The second floor is small with just a few exhibits. Don't let that fool you!
After you complete the second floor, you look out over the San Francisco bay as you wait for the elevator to the first floor. This is where you will find most of the exhibits for the San Francisco Bay Aquarium.
When you enter the first floor, the first thing you'll see is a large jellyfish display. These are just a few pictures of the jellyfish on display.
From here, you will head through the first of two walk through aquariums. The first one contains smaller fish and quite a few starfish.
Before you enter the second aquarium, you get the rare chance to see a giant Pacific Octopus. He is quite busy, so it's tough to get a clear photo of him.
The second walk through aquarium is up next. This one has several small sharks and large stingrays.
Once you finish in the second aquarium, you will hop back on the elevator and head up to the top floor. This is the interactive area where you can see several animals up close and touch baby sharks, stingrays and starfish.
Here is a look at some of the things you can do in this area of the aquarium.
The first pond has several baby stingrays and sharks that you can touch.
Here is just one of the baby stingray in the pond.
The pond where you can touch a number of colorful starfish
Just a few of the starfish and other creatures you can touch in this pond
In addition to these displays, they also have some other animals. They include turtles, a snake and an opossum. Throughout the day, these animals are brought out of their cages so visitors get the chance to see them close up.
Here is the schedule from the last day I visited.
This is the final display area of the San Francisco Bay Aquarium. From here you exit through the gift shop back into Pier 39.
For an additional fee, you can also see a couple of 3D movies in the Bay Theater. These movies run all day long and last about 20 to 30 minutes.
There are usually two movies on display. They range from animated shows to educational animal movies.
Ask for the current movie schedule and pricing at the main ticket booth in Pier 39.
The best time to visit is first thing in the morning. This is usually when I visit and it's still pretty quiet during this time.
The weekdays are the best, as the weekends can get quite crowded. However, if you get there early, you can usually beat the crowds.
A trip to the San Francisco Bay Aquarium will take anywhere from an hour to three hours. If you plan on catching the movies and/or the magic show, then add another hour to your visit time.
The cost to visit the San Francisco Bay Aquarium is as follows:
There is also a behind the scenes tour at the aquarium. It is a little more expensive, but a great way to learn even more about the animals that live in the SF Bay.
The aquarium is open seven days a week. They are only closed on December 25. Their hours vary slightly during the week vs. the weekends. They also vary slightly in the summer and winter months. Here are their general hours of operation:
Monday-Thursday: 10 am to 7 pm
Friday-Saturday: 10 am to 8 pm
Monday-Thursday: 10 am to 6 pm
Friday-Sun: 10 am to 7 pm
You may want to check out the days you plan on visiting specifically to confirm the hours.
If you plan on visiting several museums or attractions in addition to the aquarium, you might be able to save money with one of these discount passes. Both include admission to the aquarium as well as admission to places such as the California Academy of Sciences and tickets on popular bay cruises.
Click through the links below to learn more about the passes including a list of the attractions and museums included with it. If you aren't sure where to start, you can also head to the discounts page to compare them side by side.
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