Located in Monterey, California, Monterey Bay Aquarium is a public aquarium at the former site of the sardine cannery on Cannery Row. If you love sea otters, penguins, jellyfish, sharks, octopi/octopuses, and more, then you should check out this aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium coupons. Our kids are animal lovers, so we made sure to include a stop at the aquarium while we were in Monterey this summer.
Tickets can be quite expensive, so like I normally do, I searched for some coupons and discounts. I also know that some of you are looking for Monterey Bay Aquarium free tickets and free days.
Here is what I was able to find in order to save some money on tickets for the aquarium.
2121 Update: The aquarium has not reopened yet.
2020 Monterey Bay Aquarium Coupons, Discounts, Free Tickets for + Review
First, a quick Monterey Bay Aquarium review
Monterey Bay Aquarium Family Trip Video
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My family and I were there a few summers ago and we got our discount Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets from AAA (more on Monterey Bay Aquarium Coupons and Discounts in a minute).
How much is parking at Monterey Bay Aquarium?
Because we wanted to save some money, we parked on the street, a few blocks away at metered parking. We paid $12 for the day. For a little more convenience, you can pay $15 and park at the Cannery Row garage on Irving Avenue between Foam and Wave streets. After 4 pm, the price is only $5.
According to the aquarium website, parking is available in the Downtown East Garage at 340 Tyler Street in Monterey for a flat fee of $7 for the entire day. Then, there’s a trolley pick-up point located just across from the garage on Tyler Street, and more in downtown Monterey.
Best Days to Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium
We visited the aquarium on a Friday. It was quite crowded. The least crowded, best days and times to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium are during the fall and winter months, according to the website.
If you go during the peak summer season, then they suggest visiting on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 2 pm and 6 pm. We arrived around 10:30 am.
The Aquarium for Kids
Our kids are ages 8 and 10. We started out at the otters’ exhibit, the most popular. There were a lot of families at this exhibit, so it was hard to see the otters from the back of the room.
Our kids were able to make their way to the front to see the otter feeding. When you are a kid, it’s easy to squeeze your way to the front. They really enjoyed that.
There are various feedings, presentations, and movies during the day. See the Monterey Bay Aquarium daily schedule here. The aquarium is a good size. It has 2 floors. It’s not too big, but there is still a lot to see. Here’s a map of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
We watched the open sea feeding, which like the otter feeding, was very crowded. Again, the kids made their way to the front, but my husband and I were in the back and had a hard time seeing. If there’s a program you really want to see, I suggest arriving 15 minutes early to get a good seat/position.
Next, we walked around all the exhibit and saw the 15-minute movie, Luna: A Sea Otter’s Story. We all really enjoyed that. Who doesn’t love sea otters?
Can I bring food into Monterey Bay Aquarium?
Yes, you can bring food into the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We came with our own healthy snacks, but you can also purchase food at the cafe, restaurant, or coffee shop onsite.
Amount of Time Needed to Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium
We left the aquarium mid-afternoon. I would say we spent around 5 hours there and were able to see everything that interested us. We missed a few of the programs and a few of the movie/shows.
Overall Recommendation for the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Overall, it was a fun time for the whole family. I recommend a visit here, especially if you can find discounted tickets for the aquarium.
If you want even more info and reviews, then check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium reviews on Trip Advisor.
Now, the Coupons and Discounts
If you are looking for some Monterey Aquarium coupons or discounts, then take a look at this roundup of deals I was able to find.
How much does it cost to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2021?
Here are the Monterey Bay Aquarium ticket prices for 2021. For general admission, adult tickets cost $49.95, $34.95 for kids ages 5-12 (under 3 free), $39.95 for students ages 13-17 or with a college ID. For seniors, ages 65 years old or older, the Monterey Bay Aquarium ticket price is $39.95.
How to get Monterey Bay Aquarium Military Discounts
Active duty or retired military personnel save $7 and get other benefits. If you are looking for more information, then check out Monterey Bay Aquarium military discounts here.
Hotel Partner Discounts
The hotel where we stayed, Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa, offered discount tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. For the price of a one day pass, you could get a two-day pass. Since we were only going for one day, I decided to keep looking for more Monterey Bay Aquarium coupons or discounts.
How to get AAA Discounts for the Monterey Bay Aquarium
We are AAA members, and I highly recommend using them. They saved us during road trip flat tire incident. I knew AAA offers deals to various tourist sites and destinations, so I wanted to find out how much is the AAA discount for Monterey Bay Aquarium.
First, I contacted the AAA office in Monterey, and they did indeed have discounted Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets. To get the Monterey Bay Aquarium AAA discounts, all tickets must be purchased in advance at a AAA Northern CA, NV & UT branch office.
The morning of our planned visit to the aquarium, I drove over to the AAA office and got adult tickets for $35.95 and kids tickets for $22.95. Students (with ID) and seniors are $31.95.
Note – If you do buy the tickets ahead of time, then don’t leave them in the hotel room when you head out the aquarium, requiring your husband to return to the hotel to retrieve them because you already paid for a parking spot.
If you plan to visit other attractions in the San Francisco area, then check out the San Francisco City Pass. It is a great deal. With this pass, you’ll get 7-day Cable Car and Muni Bus Passport, California Academy of Sciences, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure, Exploratorium or de Young Museum, Aquarium of the Bay or Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is $94 for adults and $69 for kids. Thus, you’ll be getting an amazing deal on the aquarium and other San Francisco area attractions.
How to get free field trips to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Teacher Discounts
Teachers of pre-k to college students can plan a free field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium between September 4, 2018, and August 30, 2019. In order to get the free field trip, school groups must be going as part of a regularly scheduled class with a transcript grade or academic credit. In addition, reservations have to be made at least two weeks ahead of time. Go to the main aquarium website for more information.
How to Get Free Tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium Free Tickets from the Library
Free Monterey Bay Aquarium access for low-income families is available for eligible adults. With this, you can get one free pass to the Aquarium per program year from Monterey County Free Libraries. The pass is good for free Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets for up to six family members. Get more information about the Shelf-to-Shore Aquarium Pass Program here.
How to get Free Tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for Military
To celebrates veterans, there will be free aquarium admission for Veterans Nov. 10–12, 2018.
How to get Free Monterey Bay Aquarium Tickets for Low Income Groups
The Free to Learn program gives complementary group admission to eligible agencies and organizations. To see if your group is eligible, look at the requirements here.
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