aquariums in california

Best 15 Aquariums To Visit In California (updated)

California is a state known for its natural beauty, and what better way to explore such a diverse region than by visiting one of the many aquariums in California? After touring some of these beautiful California aquariums, it is hard not to wonder what other beautiful places are for nature adventures in California.

Here are 15 of the best aquariums that you should check out while you’re there.

1. Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay

The aquarium of the Bay is part of a beautiful pier in San Francisco. With tanks that have views of the Bay, you will be able to see sharks, jellyfish, and much other marine life through a floor-to-ceiling 360-degree view.

The aquarium is located at Embarcadero and Beach Street in the Financial District of downtown San Francisco. The PricePrice for visiting the Aquarium of the Bay is $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for children ages 3-11. There are also discounts for the military, seniors, and children.

2. Monterey Bay Aquarium

 Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in California, receiving thousands of visitors weekly. The Monterey Bay aquarium has several exhibits, including a 1.3 million gallon tank that houses four different sea otters.

The saltwater tanks are so large that they have their weather systems, complete with clouds! More than 20,000 plant and animal species can be seen at this aquarium, located about 100 miles south of San Francisco in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

It has been rated as one of the top ten public aquariums in the United States since it opened in 1984 after being transformed from a more traditional marine science lab. The PricePrice to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium is $36 for adults and $28 for children ages 3-11. Military, senior, and child discounts are also available.

3. Newport Aquarium

If you’re looking for a place where you can explore marine life with your family, make Newport Aquarium in Newport Beach your next destination on your California vacation! The aquarium has exhibits of sharks, jellyfish, eels, sea otters, and many other animals that live peacefully together as if they were brothers and sisters.

You will see playful seals and little penguins that swim up to greet you visitors – an experience that makes even the youngest of children smile from ear to ear. The PricePrice to visit the Newport Aquarium is $24 for adults and $18 for children ages 3-11. There are also discounts offered for the military, seniors, and children.

4. Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Located on the scenic cliffs of La Jolla in San Diego County, California, this aquarium welcomes over 800,000 visitors annually. Established as a tribute to marine science, Birch Aquarium boasts exhibits that explore the beauty and diversity of sea life, from tide pools to open oceans with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

The main tank is home to thousands of creatures, including Giant Green Anemones; Leopard Sharks; Spotted Garden Eels, and much more! The PricePrice to visit the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is $29 for adults and $24 for children ages 3-11. There are also discounts offered for the military, seniors, and children.

5. Aquarium of the Pacific

Located on a waterfront overlooking picturesque Long Beach, California, it’s no wonder why this aquarium receives more than 1 million visitors annually!

An interactive discovery center, the Aquarium of the Pacific provides over 200 hands-on exhibits and guided tours and activities for all ages. Visitors can explore 13 significant habitats as they explore freshwater lakes and streams; swim through kelp forests; dive into the depths of Monterey Bay, or venture to Baja California, where you will find one of the largest ocean deserts on Earth – The Sea of Cortez.

This aquarium is genuinely a great California adventure for everyone! PricePrice to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific is $30 for adults and $20 for children 12 and under. There are also discounts offered for the military, seniors, and children.

6. Long Beach Aquarium

This aquarium offers two different experiences: a two-story, 40,000 square foot experience and a 10,000 square foot touch pool experience. In addition, the aquarium is home to over 3000 animals of more than 250 species!

It provides close-up encounters with sharks; offers views of nurse sharks sleeping for hours without moving; has underwater tunnels that you can walk through while you see all kinds of fish swimming around you.

You can get nose to nose with starfish and sea cucumbers or get an up-close visit from the cutest seahorses in the world – at this aquarium, they are everywhere! The PricePrice to visit the Long Beach Aquarium is $29 for adults and $19 for children ages 3-11. There are also discounts offered for the military, seniors, and children.

7. Two Oceans Aquarium

This place may be new on the list of California’s top 10 best aquariums, but we can guarantee you that you will love this aquarium in Alameda. This modern facility has an underwater tunnel that takes you right into the ocean and countless other exhibits that showcase all kinds of sea life, as well as educational programs that teach visitors about the importance of protecting our environment, humanity’s impact on it, and how to be a better global citizen.

The Two Oceans Aquarium’s mission is to promote awareness and understanding of marine and freshwater ecosystems through education and interactive experiences.

8. Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center & Aquarium

This aquarium gives visitors a chance to explore Monterey Bay from the shore. The focus of the center is conservation and education. The PricePrice to visit The Exploration Center is $11 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-17. There are also discounts offered for seniors, military, and children, as well as free admission days, so be sure to check their website before your visit!

9. The Aquarium of Santa Barbara

Home to more than 3000 individuals from 250 species, this aquarium has been a staple in the California community since it first opened its doors back in 1963! Visitors can walk along an underwater tunnel that takes them beneath a gigantic ocean tank filled with sharks, sea turtles, and rays – you can even watch jellyfish swim above your head as you stroll through it.

Other exhibits at The Aquarium of Santa Barbara include an albino alligator – which is rare because they have red eyes – as well as a river otter that does fun activities for kids on weekends and weekdays and a bat ray that reminds us of the one we got to meet at Ripley’s Aquarium in Orlando, FL! Price to visit is $30 for adults and $20 for children.

10. Ripley’s Aquarium of San Diego

This aquarium has over 30000 creatures from 500 different species living under one roof! Visitors can walk along a tunnel that takes them beneath an enormous tank filled with sharks while they watch penguins swim above their heads – talk about an unforgettable experience!

They also have sea turtles swimming freely throughout the facility. There are even exhibits that showcase jellyfish and various kinds of starfish and sea urchins. Ripley’s Aquarium of San Diego’s mission is to create interactive experiences that inspire appreciation for the ocean and encourage our visitors to respect, protect, and preserve this vital link in our biosphere.

11. Tongva Park & Flemming Aquatic Center

The aquatic center is a small facility that offers visitors a chance to meet rescued animals, including sharks! In addition, the park has many exhibits with butterflies, turtles, snails, fish, etc. Price to attend the facility is only $6 per person – if you want a virtual tour, it will cost you a few extra dollars.

12. Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

This aquarium is a tourist hotspot because it offers visitors the chance to see various kinds of colorful fish and dolphins! It also has an area that showcases local artists – so if you’re lucky, you might even find some great art pieces as souvenirs! Come early, however, because this place gets pretty packed! The PricePrice to visit the aquarium only is $3 per person, and for those who want to swim with dolphins, it will cost them $175 per session (minimum age requirement is 14).

13. Seaside Aquarium

Are you looking for a small yet pleasant and relaxing learning experience? Then head over to Seaside Aquarium located in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea! Seaside Aquarium was one of the first aquariums to offer visitors a chance to observe and study captive marine mammals, which is why it’s such an essential part of our history – who wouldn’t want to see what happens behind the scenes?

The aquarium also has a touch tank that can be pretty fun for kids, and it even offers educational activities for children. Unfortunately, the PricePrice to visit the facility only is $8 per person; to view animal demonstrations and special programs will cost you an extra few dollars.

14. Henry Miller Library (Big Sur)

Opened in 1981, this library covers about 8600 square feet and consists of three floors with 60 miles worth of bookshelves! However, what makes this library so unique is the fact that it was featured in the movie Big Sur with Jack Nicholson.

It’s even rumored that Miloš Forman frequently visited here when he was filming his classic musical Hair! We also hear over 40 copies of Anais Nin’s Diary in this library – if you’re a fan, be sure to check them out!

15. Point Dume Lighthouse (Malibu)

This lighthouse has been around since 1912, and it’s one of the most famous landmarks in Malibu. Point Dume Lighthouse is located at Point Dume State Park, making it an ideal place for family fun outings due to its proximity to Manhattan Beach! In addition, there are several hiking trails inside Point Dume State Park – so if you’re looking for a fun yet healthy day, you should check it out! The PricePrice to visit the lighthouse only is $7 per person.


There are so many unique places to visit in California, but if you’re looking for something educational, fun, and memorable, these 15 locations should be on top of your list!

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