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Sunday, February 21, 2010

See the Sea - 3 Bay Area Aquariums Worth the Trip

The big daddy of San Francisco aquariums is of course the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and it’s definitely worth a trip. But it’s a couple hours drive from the city, so if that’s not on your agenda for the day, here are three accessible places to take the family and see the sea (creatures):

Aquarium of the Bay – Located right inside the Pier 39 complex, this Fisherman’s Wharf aquarium is extremely convenient and substantial enough to give you your aquarium fix. Not to be missed are the two walk-through tunnels, 300 feet in length, from which you can watch sharks, bat rays, sea stars and more glide gently overhead. The Touch the Bay exhibit allows kids to come into contact with true marine animals like Leopard Sharks and Bat Rays – if you’ll let them! Alameda County residents can go next week for free!

The California Academy of Science – This renovated masterpiece reopened to much acclaim in 2008. The Steinhart Aquarium has some very impressive tanks that are home to 38,000 live animals, which you can view from multiple angles (including from above). In addition to Northern California animals, you’ll see a Philippine reef, an Amazon habitat, a swamp (with albino alligators!), and African penguins. Here's a review of the California Academy of Science.

The Marine Mammal Center – This isn’t an aquarium, and therefore rarely makes it onto the tourist list – all the more reason to visit! The center rehabilitates seals and sea lions, and welcomes visitors to see the work they do. Take a self-guided tour of the marine facility, including the newly rebuilt hospital, outdoor pools and exhibits. They’re busiest in the spring when it’s pupping season, so look for lots of cute elephant seal pups.

Photo copyright - Deborah Abrams Kaplan - all rights reserved. Photo taken at the California Academy of Sciences.

1 comment:

  1. Coming to SF March 19th with my 4 year old for a week of spring break fun, thanks for the info!