For the safety of our visitors and the marine life we exhibit, all bags, backpacks and packages may be inspected before entering the Aquarium. During peak seasons, holidays and weekends, you may experience a brief wait to allow for security screenings.
Best times to avoid crowds
Our less-visited times are in the fall and winter months other than during holidays. At other times of the year, you'll find fewer visitors between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. During the peak summer months, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days to visit.
The Aquarium strives to be fully accessible to the disabled. Wheelchairs are available free of charge and on a first-come, first-served basis at the Information Desk inside the Main Entrance. Learn more about our accessibility options
Do you allow pets inside the Aquarium?
Only trained service animals are permitted in the Aquarium. Pet-sitting services are available in the Monterey area. Call the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau at (831) 657-6400 for recommendations.
Do you have a "lost and found"?
Yes, at the Information Desk. A lost and found report can also be filled out if an item has not been returned before you're ready to leave. A volunteer will provide the form and leave it in the lost and found bin for Security to pick up. We'll call Security immediately if an item of value is turned in (purse with cash/credit cards, an expensive camera, etc.).
Do you offer any discounts?
We offer discounted tickets to active duty and retired military personnel at the door. However, your entire group can receive the discounted rate by purchasing tickets through a military base. AAA members may also receive a discount when purchasing tickets directly from any Northern California AAA office. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is unable to sell AAA discounts at the gate.
We offer our "two days for the price of one" ticketing program through participating hotels. You may also purchase discounted tickets to the Aquarium plus four more top San Francisco attractions with CityPASS. Additionally, companies sometimes provide discounted tickets to their employees. These special rates are not available through the Aquarium itself, but must be purchased directly from these institutions. We also extend a discount to groups of 12 or more when paying together with an advance reservation.
How long does it take to see the Aquarium?
An average visit to the Aquarium lasts two to three hours, but you can easily spend the whole day here and still have more to see! Be sure to check our Aquarium Exhibits section before you come to preview some of the highlights.
How many employees and volunteers does the Aquarium have?
There are approximately 450 paid staff and more than 1,200 volunteers. Our volunteers do everything from guiding school children through our exhibits to feeding the animals in our Kelp Forest. To learn more, visit our Jobs and Volunteer pages.
How many people visit the Aquarium?
The average number of visitors over the first 27 years has been approximately 1.8 million annually. The total number of visitors since opening has been 49,823,951 through 2011.
Visitor information cards are available at the Information Desk in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish. Many staff and volunteers speak other languages. Look for special nametags that indicate what languages they speak.
Is there a place to store my belongings?
There are lockers for personal use located on Hovden Way, just past the Member Entrance. From September through May, the lockers on the left are reserved for school groups. Guests are welcome to use the lockers on the right. Each locker costs one dollar and will only accept quarters. Locker dimensions are 16 by 23 by 30 inches.
No Weapons Policy
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has established—and strictly enforces—a No Weapons of any kind policy to ensure an enjoyable experience for all our guests and to reduce any potential risks to your safety. Weapons include (but are not limited to) firearms, (including toys and replicas), chemical or electronic "non-lethal" devices or sprays, impact weapons, knives or other sharp instruments. Signage on Aquarium property states weapons of any kind are not are permitted. Visitors are prohibited from carrying firearms—concealed or not, and regardless of whether the owner holds a permit.
Photography & video
During your visit, you're welcome to take photos and video for your personal use only. Commercial photography is allowed only with prior written permission from our Public Relations Department. For your safety and the safety of other visitors, we prohibit the use of tripods and monopods in the Aquarium.
Please turn off your flash when taking photographs inside the Aquarium. You'll get better photos without your flash—and our animals and other visitors will thank you! You'll find professional photo postcards of many of our animals in our gift and bookstores, and on the Aquarium's iPhone app. For more ideas, visit our photo tips page.
For the health and safety of our guests and animals, smoking is prohibited anywhere on Aquarium property, including outdoor areas.
Strollers are permitted throughout the Aquarium, except in our aviary and on the mezzanine of our sea otter exhibit. We ask that you be considerate of other visitors as they're navigating dark galleries to see the exhibits.
The coastal areas of Monterey County usually enjoy temperatures averaging 57 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. It's a good idea to dress in layers as temperature and wind conditions may vary throughout the day and it can get cool, even during the summer.
What if I already have tickets?
Prepaid and complimentary ticket holders may enter at the Main Entrance and will be directed to the Advance Tickets line.
Where can I buy film, batteries, stamps, aspirin, etc.?
The Gift & Bookstore carries disposable cameras, aspirin, AA and AAA batteries, along with a full selection of merchandise including natural history books, Aquarium logo clothing, educational toys and much more. You can reach our merchandising staff by phone at (877) 665-2665 toll-free in the U.S. or via e-mail. Stamps may be purchased nearby at Nob Hill Foods.
Where can we eat our picnic lunch?
The Aquarium provides an onsite picnic area reserved for visiting school groups. Individual guests may use the outside seating at the end of Hovden Way. Please note that no food or drink may be consumed inside the Aquarium, and seating is reserved for restaurant patrons in our restaurant, Cindy's Waterfront, and the Cafe. There are a number of great picnic sites within walking distance from the Aquarium, including Lovers Point, Berwick Park and San Carlos Beach.
Who owns the Aquarium?
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation owns and operates the Aquarium. It's a public nonprofit organization, established by David and Lucile Packard in 1978.
Who pays for the operation of the Aquarium? Does it receive government support?
The Aquarium is almost entirely self-supporting. The annual budget is met with income from admission fees, our membership program, business sponsorships, grants from individuals and businesses, evening events, the Gift & Bookstore, our restaurant, Cindy's Waterfront, and the Cafe. We receive occasional government grants for specific projects and programs.
Wireless internet is available at the Aquarium free of charge. You can browse the internet with your Wi-Fi-enabled cell phones, tablets and other devices. For more information, please visit the Information Desk.