See and touch at Aquarium of the Bay (San Francisco, CA)

By Mummy B.



To mark the week before Thanksgiving, the San Francisco Aquarium organizes special days at reduced rates. You can have a 50% off admission in exchange for a food donation. For “Thanksgiving Giving” operation, the Aquarium is working with the local non-profit “North Beach Citizens” (which help the homeless and those in need) and provides a list of the most wanted products.

This weekend we decided to enjoy this interesting reduction while doing a good deed in this time of holidays. We went to Pier 39, where the Aquarium is located, with two large canned fruit salad. Mimi have less than 4 years old, so her admission was free.


The tour begins with some aquariums tubes where you can see different species of small fishes, including clownfish and shoals of anchovies. Then we take the elevator, in the meantime we can enjoy the views of the Port of San Francisco.

Les aquariums en forme de tubes

Poisson rayé

Port de SF depuis l'Aquarium


Then we come into the jellyfish section, before entering a first tunnel with a treadmill. There, we see many sea stars, bars, and we particularly liked watching schools of silver fishes which swim all together.

Méduse de l'Aquarium

Etoile de mer dans le tunnel

Bancs de poissons dans les tunnels



The treadmill is quite slow, which really helps to take your time and enjoy the underwater life.

After a small room where you can have information about crabs, we reach the second tunnel. More impressive, we see there some rays and sharks. Mimi was both delighted and impressed. But we missed the giant octopus … in the middle of the afternoon, maybe it was time for its nap!

Mimi B. et Daddy B. dans le tunnel

Requin de l'Aquarium

Dans le tunnel de l'Aquarium of the Bay, SF

Panneau d'informations sur le poulpe géant


At the end of the tunnel, we take the elevator that leads to the most original room of the Aquarium: the pools where you can touch small sharks, rays and starfishes. A first time for our family : surprising and very fun! The activity is supervised by a member of the aquarium staff who explains how to touch the animals without disturbing or hurting them. 

les bassins pour toucher les animaux

Mimi B. touche une raie

Daddy B. touche un requin

Mummy B. touche une étoile de mer



The room also shows some rodents, amphibians and reptiles such as pink python, turtles, a possum or a chinchilla.

Crapaud de l'Aquarium

Tortues de l'Aquarium

Chinchilla de l'Aquarium

Opossum de l'Aquarium

Reptile de l'Aquarium


Before finishing the tour, we spend a lot of time watching the large pool of otters where you can see them playing both underwater and on land. These animals are very fast, it’s really fun to witness their agility and suppleness.

Loutre de l'Aquarium



We are happy to have visited this nice aquarium, but would have been a little disappointed if we had to pay the regular price. Indeed the tour is quite short, we only stayed one hour without hurrying. Moreover, we see nothing sensational: no big fish or rare specimens. This last point is totally explained by the goal of the San Francisco Aquarium which is to present marine life that resides in the Bay and understand its balance.

We also found a little sad that reptiles and rodents are presented in very tight spaces.

However the two tunnels are really well made and Mimi B. really enjoyed them. We were also pleasantly surprised by the opportunity to touch some specimens in open pools. A new and surprising experience!


Wanna try? Mummy B. tells you everything!



Getting to the Aquarium of the Bay:


Since the Embarcadero BART station you can either walk along the Piers to Pier 39 (after twenty minutes walk) or take line F at the Ferry Teminal (after Market Street, near the Ferry Building).


Opening hours and admission: 

This winter, the Aquarium is open every day except December 25 from 10am to 6pm Monday to Thursday and from 10am to 7pm from Friday to Sunday.

If you want to come at another time, you can check the schedules calendar online.

The price for adults (from 13 years old) is $ 21.95 and for children ages 4 to 12 is $ 12.95 . You can receive a $ 2 discount on adult tickets and $ 1 on children tickets by purchasing your tickets online or by presenting a transit ticket in the Bay Area (Muni, BART …). For children less than 4 years, it’s free!

The Aquarium is also included in the CityPass, which offers attractive discounts on various San Francisco attractions and on MUNI and Cable Car.

For those who would like to come several times a year to the Aquarium, becoming member costs $ 70 for one adult (and you can bring a guest with you for free each time you visit) and $ 110 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children under 18: therefore you save money even if you came only twice a year.


Good to know:


To see more in the Aquarium, you can choose a “Behind the scenes” tour during which you will have access to places reserved for the staff and meet the animals that are not present on the classic circuit.

For further information, visit the Aquarium’s website.




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