Planning and Travel Tips: Monterey Bay, CA and Monterey Bay Aquarium Part 1

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A while back, I knew I would have a four day weekend coming and prepared extra posts to enable us to make plans to see our family that doesn’t live close by. But, a few of the older kids decided the weekend before to go to a cabin the timing didn’t work for us. The next weekend we decided to meet half way because my son and his wife would be going to Lake Tahoe to ski during the four day weekend. So three cars of people from different areas converged on Monterey Bay and the Aquarium. Today I thought I would share our day,  give you some places and tips to help you when you are planning your travel trip there. Planning trips for spring, summer or and season this will help you enjoy your experience even more!

Whether you are nearby or coming from out of state I hope these planning tips help you enjoy your time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

  • At the end of the post are several links to help you find more about Monterey, CA area for your travel planning and don’t miss part 2 with places to see, what to bring. Also helpful links for your trip.

Tips for Planning a Monterey Bay Aquarium Trip_

We are a big group when we get together. This time it would be: Kids 4 Young Adults 3 Adults 6 and that’s not everyone. Of course we had our meeting time about 2 1/2 hours away for everyone. We at breakfast at home, packed snacks and planned to eat out at least once during the day.

  • Tip: I would say as with any trip bring extra money and make sure you have extra clothes nearby. (My older daughter Krissy ended up buying some clothes when her toddler had an accident and they had forgotten to pack extra pants in his bag. Now, moms you know there is always that one time when we forget something.) We ended up staying later and eating an extra unplanned meal before our drive home.
  • Tip: Bring layers no matter what time of year it is. Winds, fog and mist often found when visiting the coast. The aquarium has both indoor and outdoor areas you’ll want to see them.

tuna sandwhich from Archies American Diner in Monterey CA

Sammie and I ended up stopping to grab her a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant Archie’s American Diner (travel /food review) where we parked before walking about a mile to meet up with the gang. I wanted to save my money and not pay for all day parking. She ordered a tuna sandwich, which she had made to order along with a soda which cost under $10. It was huge! She could only eat half & said it was good. I decided to wait until dinner, since I had breakfast & snacks. It was a clean place and lined up fairly quickly as we got their just before lunch.

Johnny Rockets

Then we headed to Cannery Row and met up with the gang who ate at Johnny Rockets (travel / food review)  a super fun place as the waiters – waitresses break out into song and dancing. They had classic burgers, salads shakes and fries.

Fortune teller the great Zucchini Cannery Row

While we waited for them to finish eating we went ahead to a few shops since it would be hard to get in and out with a trail of little ones. We went into Zucchini’s Tricks and Things magic shop after seeing the fortune teller at the doorway. How could we resist? A similar one of our favorite movies “Big” with Tom Hanks. We walked by and it starting talking to us! In we went! Before leaving the store (I assume the owner) was showing magic tricks with everyone gathering around. It was pretty cool and has tons of things packed into a small store to see.

Sea Urchin_ Monterey Bay Aquarium_

We also went into quite a few gift shops. One of the best from our day was the one with a giant totum pole outside of it. Sorry I can’t remember the name it’s about a block and a half down from the aquarium but, on the opposite side of the street. They had tons of sea shells, gifts, tee shirts and even creepy looking dead baby sharks in bottles. Sammie was fascinated by them but, we didn’t buy one. She shared a photo on her Instagram lol. I am for supporting the aquarium but, the aquarium gift shop is really expensive be fore warned. It carries lovely books, shells, postcards, tee shirts, sweatshirts, vests and more. Of course trinkets are less expensive. At least walk through it’s lovely of course if your budget allows, support them.

Purple and green coral Monterey Bay Aquarium

Upon entering I noticed it way busier than usual even for a weekend. I  later found out it was one of the free community days for anyone living in the local county to get in free. Great for if you are local, on a budget and can’t afford it. Not so great for when you are paying and have to get through huge crowds to enjoy the aquarium. But, as the day went on people leave and you make your way through. People are generally good about taking turns viewing at the large windows.


  • If you can’t afford paying entrance fee and live locally find out when local community days are happening!
  • Make sure it’s not a free community day if you are paying and preferably visit during the week vs. weekend! It will be less crowded.
  • Summers probably will be crowded either way.
  • Plan to spend the entire day open to close which is 5:00 pm to get your ticket’s worth.
  • Check Aquarium times as they vary and holiday schedules
  • It’s not cheap even for kids. Plan Your Visit.
  • Group Tickets can be purchased for 12 or more in advance.
  • (Triple A) AAA discounts can be purchased in advance for single ticket discounts.
  • Don’t miss the Splash Zone if your an adult group there is plenty of nice exhibits and interactive areas to see! (My favorite purple giant clams are near the play center)

Tomorrow I’ll have more  photographs from our trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium, what is good to bring, places to visit nearby and wrap to help you when planning and taking your trip!  Update: Part 2

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Have you ever been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in CA.? Or is this on your bucket list of places to go?

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