My family members are becoming aquarium connoisseurs. Having visited most all of the west coast aquariums, we are a bit snobby when it comes down to it.
The Aquarium of the Bay, although not massive in size, offers a great family-friendly activity at the start of Pier 39.
Despite having been to much larger aquariums, my kids never complained about the size. The touch tank area is perfect for small hands, offering step stools to get them to the perfect height. The staff is friendly, helpful, and very good at offering information to little ears.
The aquarium offers a great eco-conscious focus in the midst of tourist-land. After learning about the animals, my children were reminded about the importance of recycling, picking up litter, and even using natural sources of power. Hands on demonstrations in the area of solar panels helped to make alternative fueling options very real to them, even at a young age.
The one difficulty I had with the aquarium was the layout, which at times I found a bit frustrating. They utilized their space well, using the elevators to get visitors through the small space with most efficiency, but at times, the wait for elevators was a bit long; I wished there had been a stairs option. In addition, the elevator system made it a bit tricky to simply just head back and go to a favorite exhibit when the tour was finished.
All in all, despite the small size, my family really loved the aquarium. It is a perfect way to relax and spend a few hours at the end or beginning of a busy Pier 39 day. It is an especially great deal when packaged with a CityPASS, which offers discounted admissions to attractions throughout San Francisco.
Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the Aquarium of the Bay while reviewing both Pier 39 and the San Francisco CityPASS. All opinions remain my own.
I recently experienced the magic of San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay with my son (age 3). Aquarium of the Bay is unique to the city in that the facility features aquatic life that's native to San Francisco Bay.
This family friendly Aquarium features interactive touch tank exhibits where children can get up close and personal with rays and sharks. In the Invertebrates Touch Pool, kids can touch docile marine life such as adorable sea stars.
San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay also features a newly renovated, 270-seat Bay Theater. The Bay Theater boasts a 1,000 square foot production stage, a concession area, and serves as an educational resource on the San Francisco Bay. All proceeds from the $3 ticket price support conservation work led by the Aquarium.
Some of our trip highlights include the clear, acrylic tunnels which allowed us to watch marine life swim overhead, watching the mesmerizing schools of anchovies swim in harmony, and in true toddler fashion; riding the elevator over and over again.
Around 1 pm, I lured my son to the Bay Theater with promises of popcorn from the concession stand. We attempted to watch Animated Oceans, a series of three short animated films featuring sea characters. Unfortunately, my son couldn’t stay seated long enough to make it through the first film. However, for the five minutes we were in the theater, I really enjoyed the show. It was with great reluctance I stepped out. I highly recommend catching a show at the Bay Theater if your child will cooperate!!
Aquarium of the Bay provided my family with complimentary tickets for this review. The aquarium did not request that I express any particular point of view and my reviews always reflect my honest opinions.
Although I think this is a very well-designed aquarium, I agree that it is not worth the admission price. Thankfully, with a little advance planning you can purchase 1/2 priced tickets from Goldstar or other online ticket venues. Kids 2 and under are free, so this is a great place to bring toddlers. Both of my daughters (5.5 and 2.5) loved the touch tank, which in my humble opinion is nicer than that of either Monterey Bay or California Academy of Sciences (I can hear audible gasps of shock).
We sped through the whole aquarium, including watching a humorous film about the life of a plastic bag, in less than an hour. This is a good add-on activity if you are near the Embarcadero anyway.
Our son loves this aquarium especially going through the glass tunnel where you can see tons of sharks while standing on a moving conveyer belt. There are many other good parts of the exhibit but the tunnel is the main attraction. This is not a big aquarium so older kids may find it not as interesting, but it is perfect for toddlers.
We purchased the tickets and really expected to see such a beautiful aquarium just next to Pier 39. However, it is too small and too old. There is nothing really new there. Our kids like this aquarium, especially the star fishes and the sharks. But to be honest, I wouldn't suggest you to take the kids here. It's a waste.
Our 18 month old son LOVED this place! I could see how it could be disappointing to older kids, since it's not very big, but for our little son who loves the fishtank at the library, he was in heaven with the huge walkway aquarium with the sharks swimming over and around him. He also loved being able to 'touch' the different fish at the end. As a parent I liked the fact that it was cheaper than the other aquariums in the city.
This aquarium is not the largest, but it still has a lot of neat stuff to check out. It's fun for the whole family with it's unique types of exhibits. They have this great walk-in aquarium and if you're lucky enough to go on one of the two days out of the whole week that they feed their sharks, then you're in for a real treat! I think the best part about this aquarium is the location. Once you come out of there, there is still loads to do! You can take a double decker guided bus tour of all the landmarks with a stop at the golden gate bridge, a cruise to alcatraz, lots of fun shops to look around in, great places to eat, and not to mention the beautiful views of the ocean. Trust me, this place is impossible to leave once you are there. I live only an hour away from here but I still can't get enough!
This was a little boring. There wasn't much to see. I don't think we even spent an hour here and saw the whole thing. It was expensive to get in as well. There was food at the pier, but not at the aquarium so eat first. I would not visit again. It was a waste for what you saw.
Amazing aquarium offers various exhibitions for kids of all ages. At first you have to go through the "tricky" part - gift store located at the entrance. The moving walkway is perfect for moms with strollers, who want to rest, meanwhile daddies carrying toddlers on their shoulders give them perfect view on the sharks swimming in the glass tunnel. The marine petting zoo is also another popular feature. You will love it!
Took the kid to the Aquarium and while it wasn't the grandest thing ever it is a nice little visit. It was nice to get off of the crowded street and look and some nice fish and local sea life. Make sure and do a quick internet search or in a coupon book, they are usually discount tickets readily available.
We went to this zoo with our son, 2 years old, and his 2 cousins, 1 was 7 and the other 2. The older cousin thought it was alright but not that impressed. It was a bit shocking to see how small the aquarium actually is inside. It really has a potential to be a pretty amazing exhibit considering it is right on the water, but it fell short for us.
This place seems rather small, especially for the price, but there's quite a lot to see here. Be sure to go through all the levels slowly and see all the critters. The best part is the tunnel where you get to see sharks and huge fish swimming over and around you.
I took 5 of my kids to the Aquarium and every one of We them really enjoyed themselves. We bought Citypasses and the aquarium was included in the package. Each one of them liked something different. The most popular part was the touch pools. The looks on their faces after touching a stingray and starfish! Worth every penny.
This aquarium is ho-hum. The underwater sea walk is kind of neat, but a little claustrophobic, too. Other than that, there is nothing to see that you haven't seen elsewhere - and better. For the price, it would be much better to go to Monterey Aquarium, if you can afford the time. We went here on a rainy day when we were meeting some out of town friends later. Not wanting to wait out in the cold at Pier 39, we went inside. My kids ran through the place in about 15 minutes. There just isn't much there.
I have been to the Aquarium of the Bay a couple of times when my children were little. They enjoyed it at that time but I would not take them now that they are elementary age kids. It is small and looks old. I would rather take them to the Monterey Aquarium, even if it is not close by.
Like other reviewers said, this aquarium is just okay especially compared to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Still, it's an okay place to visit if you can get a deal on coming here. Plan for just a short visit as there is not too much to see. However, if you have some time and have little ones who love to see fish (mine does!), then go for it. Just don't expect anything spectacular.
This is a fine aquarium if you are limited to just San Francisco. It is a smaller exhibit space than in Monterey and has fewer species of fish. The conveyor belt that you ride on to view some of the fish is interesting but not spectacular. All in all there are better aquariums to attend and better things to do in San Francisco but it was still fun for my three year old.
This aquarium is small and doesn't offer much for kids. It will take you about 30 minutes to see everything and it is just not worth the price you will pay. I went at the end of the summer and it wasn't busy, even though everything else at the Fisherman's Wharf was packed. My daughter was 4 months old and enjoyed all the sights and sounds but I wouldn't recommend it if you're really looking for a great aquarium experience. If you will be in the area for a while, take the time to travel to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium.
Under new management - and it shows. What used to be a tacky tourist trap is turning into a great place to stop along the waterfront. Kids will especially love the "underwater" tunnel that allows you to "swim with the sharks." With new activities and exhibits, the aquarium is much more educational and engaging and has a terrific view to boot! Not a place to spend a whole day but certainly a good hour or two.
It's a small aquarium that takes about an hour to get through. They have touch takes and some general exhibits that aren't anything special or unique. It has an underwater tunnel that you can walk through which is pretty cool and definitely the highlight. I thought it was overpriced though. We wouldn't do it again.