Monterey Bay Aquarium is a public aquarium located in Monterey, California, at the former site of the sardine cannery on Cannery Row. The aquarium is right on the ocean.
Monterey Bay Aquarium is for you if you love sea otters, penguins, jellyfish, sharks, octopi/octopuses, and sea turtles.
Our kids are animal lovers, so we made sure to include a stop at the aquarium while we were in Monterey this summer on a family road trip.
Tickets can be quite expensive, so like I usually do, I searched for 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 found to save money on tickets for the aquarium.
Table of Contents
2023 Monterey Bay Aquarium Coupons, Discounts, Free Tickets for + Review
First, a quick Monterey Bay Aquarium review
Monterey Bay Aquarium Family Trip Video
Video About Monterey Bay Aquarium Secret
My family and I traveled by car 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).
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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.
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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 pretty 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, 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 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 could go to the front to see the otter feeding. When you are a kid, it’s easy to squeeze your way to the front. They 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 two floors. It’s not too big, but there is still a lot to see.
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 difficulty seeing.
If there’s a program you want to see, I suggest arriving 15 minutes early to get a good seat/position.
Next, we explored the exhibits and saw the 15-minute movie Luna: A Sea Otter’s Story. We all enjoyed that. Who doesn’t love sea otters?
Can I bring food to Monterey Bay Aquarium?
Yes, you can bring food into the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We came with our 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. We spent around 5 hours there and could 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, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium reviews on Trip Advisor.
Now, Monterey Bay Aquarium Discounts And Coupons
If you are looking for some Monterey Bay Aquarium discount codes, promotional codes, and coupons, then take a look at this roundup of deals I found.
How much does it cost to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2023?
Here are the Monterey Bay Aquarium ticket prices for 2023. For general admission tickets:
- Adult tickets cost $49.95
- $34.95 for kids ages 5-12
- Kids under age 4 are 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.
Monterey bay aquarium student discount
Does Monterey Bay Aquarium have student discounts? You can save $2 per ticket if you’re a student aged 13-17 or a college student. Some military schools are eligible. Be sure to bring your student ID for proof.
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 kept 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 indeed had 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.
Update: AAA no longer has a partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium.
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.
The San Francisco City Pass
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 a fantastic deal on the aquarium and other San Francisco area attractions.
How to get free field trips to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Teacher Discount
Teachers of pre-k to college students can plan a free field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in select windows. 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
Free Monterey Bay Aquarium access for low-income families is available for eligible adults through the Free-To-Learn Program. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Free to Learn program serves low-income and historically excluded children, adults, and families. These include groups serving disabled, veteran, and low-income seniors.
According to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website, they do not offer military discounts. But Monterey Bay Aquarium military discounts are available at local bases.
There are a few ways to get into Monterey Bay Aquarium for free. The Shelf To Shore Pass is available at local libraries. Low-income families can receive admission through Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Free To Learn Program. Another way is through Monterey Bay Aquarium’s annual free admission days.
How to get Free Tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for Military
To celebrate veterans, there will be free aquarium admission for Veterans Day.
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Erin is the mother of identical twin girls and their slightly older brother. She is a domestic engineer, and previously had a career leading customer service teams for a major HVAC company. Cleaning without harsh chemicals, and cooking easy and usually healthy meals are part of Erin's daily life. She volunteers with youth leaders, and genuinely wants to help others win. Erin has a degree in Communications, with a focus on Broadcast Journalism.