Aquarium of the Bay: how to visit the San Francisco Aquarium

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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One of the things to do in San Francisco if you are in thePier? A visit thereAquarium of the Bay on Pier 39. Over 20.000 marine animals await you in this place that attracts adults and children every year.


  • What is the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco?
  • Where is it and how to get there
  • Timetables and tickets
  • Why visit and what to see
  • Where to sleep in the area

What is the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco?

The Aquarium of the Bay is an aquarium that has been open to the public since April 1996. It is located in one of the most characteristic areas of San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf. While in the near Steinhart Aquarium area of Academy of Sciences you'll see over 900 species and 40.000 specimens from around the world, the Aquarium of the Bay focuses on local marine species, those that inhabit the San Francisco Bay and, more generally, the Pacific Ocean.

Where is it and how to get there

The Aquarium of the Bay is located at PIER 39 in San Francisco, Address: The Embarcadero and Beach Street.

If you are in auto remember that the aquarium does not have its own parking. However, you can leave your car at the Pier 39 Garage public parking lot ($ 15 per day on weekdays and $ 20 on weekends) or in paid parking spaces along the road.

Se usi i By public transport the BART and MUNI stop is the Embarcadero Station. From the Embarcadero and Stockton Street stop, a one-minute walk will bring you to the entrance to the aquarium.

If you arrive by public transport do not throw away the ticket because you will be entitled to one discount $ 2 on the admission ticket for adults and $ 1 on the admission ticket for children and over 65s.

Here are some insights that might help you:

  • Getting around in San Francisco
  • How to rent a car in San Francisco
  • Tips for parking in San Francisco

Timetables and tickets

Buy Aquarium tickets

The Aquarium of the Bay is open every day from 11:00 to 18.00.

On 24 December the closing is anticipated to 15:00 with the possibility of buying the entrance ticket only until 14:00. On December 25, the aquarium is closed to the public for the whole day.

Il cost of the ticket and of:

  • $ 29.25 for the 13-64 age group
  • $ 19.25 for children between 4 and 12 years old
  • $ 1.00 for children under 3
  • $ 24.25 for those over 65.

In the case of families with two adults and two children between the ages of 4 and 12, there is a single ticket called the Family of 4 Bundle for $ 80, thus saving around $ 12.

Included in the ticket is the possibility to download a audio tour with explanations also in Spanish: just scan the various QR Codes present near the various tanks with your mobile phone.

The Aquarium of the Bay is one of the attractions included in the San Francisco City Pass, so you can save on the admission ticket by combining it with the other attractions included in the pass.

Another way to save a few dollars on admission to the Aquarium of the Bay is theOfficial San Francisco Downtown Experience, a pass that allows you to save about 13% on the purchase of a package that includes an Alcatraz City Cruises cruise, a walking tour of Chinatown and admission to the aquarium.

If you're not in San Francisco at the moment, the aquarium has arranged gods virtual tour of just under 1 hour with Zoom in which not only a guide takes you to see the tunnel with the sharks and other areas of the aquarium, but you can also discover the areas closed to the public and learn the secrets of how the staff takes animal care.

I Virtual Behind The Scene Tour they last 45 minutes. The Zoom link is sent approximately one hour before the tour starts. The cost is:

  • $ 40 for up to 4 computers connected at the same time;
  • $ 60 for up to 6 computers;
  • $ 100 for up to 12 computers.

Finally, the aquarium offers the opportunity to dive and work with experts to help preserve the habitats and fauna found in the San Francisco Bay. On the museum's website you will find the dates and experiences proposed from time to time in order to contribute to the protection of marine species.

Buy Aquarium tickets

Why visit and what to see

In addition to having an enviable location, the Aquarium of the Bay is perfect to visit with children. Particularly interesting are the tunnels under the water that allow you to walk surrounded by sharks, jellyfish and other marine species.

The aquarium is not very large and is divided into some macrosections:

  • Discover the Bay: discovering the seven habitats that characterize the San Francisco Bay ecosystem. Moray eels, Garibaldi orange fish, anchovies and the newborn fish area are found here.
  • Go with the flow: from the colorful jellyfish (over 200 species) to sea nettles. You are at the entrance to the Under the Bay section.
  • Under the Bay: the most suggestive section of the aquarium. A 90-meter tunnel allows you to walk under and to the side of animals such as sharks, rays, sturgeons, anchovies and giant octopuses.
  • Touch the bay: experience becomes tactile. In this area you can touch various sea animals including sharks and starfish with your bare hands, as well as discover how climate change affects the life of turtles, frogs and many other living beings.

Where to sleep in the area

The Aquarium of the Bay is strategically located for exploring an area full of restaurants and attractions, as well as a beautiful view of the bay. In this area (Fisherman's Wharf) there is an abundance of offers of places to spend the night so you will not have big difficulties, but I still recommend that you take a look at our guide on where to sleep in San Francisco to know all the areas of the city that are best suited to overnight stay.

Our tips for sleeping in San Francisco

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