Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39, San Francisco, CA

Marine life at the Aquarium of the Bay
Colorful marine life surround visitors in the tunnels at Aquarium of the Bay

This post was contributed by Lisa Crovo Dion

Last month, my family and I were invited to visit the always fascinating and very accessible Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39.

Pier 39 was ranked the most-visited attraction in San Francisco for the second time by San Francisco Travel Association’s Visitor Profile Study. According to 2014 results, just shy of 50% of domestic and international guests visited the Pier during their stay in San Francisco, and an estimated 11 million people visit Pier 39 annually.

Many locals deem it cheesy and touristy and steer clear of the Pier. My kids love it. And I have to say, I quite enjoy it also.

The jellyfish exhibit at Aquarium of the Bay
Beautiful yellow jellies at the Aquarium of the Bay

The Aquarium is one of our favorite spots on  Pier 39, so we were excited to spend a sunny Saturday at this home to more than 20,000 animals that can be found in the San Francisco Bay and along the California coast. Over 700,000 gallons of water flow through the galleries that are inhabited by sharks, colorful jellies, playful river otters, bat rays, frogs, anemones, sea stars, a boa snake, and more.

Aquarium of the Bay also prides itself as a pioneer in sustainability and a model for education. It is a certified Green Business and works hard on the reduction of its carbon footprint through waste diversion and composting, water and energy conservation, and pollution prevention.

Educational programs include daily presentations, free field trips, and teacher workshops. Some of the events sponsored by the Aquarium are Beach Day Cleanups, Shark Week, a Feed-the-Sharks Tour, and River Otter Snow Days in December when they add more than 1,000 pounds of snow to the river otter habitat!

We started our tour by hanging out watching the adorable, cheeky otters as they romped, swam and played on the rocks and in the water of their groovy habitat.

Then it was on to the Touchpools, an interactive experience where guests can touch young bat rays, skates, sharks, and sea cucumbers.

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But my favorite parts are the Under the Bay tunnels — two massive tunnels that immerse you into underwater world of marine where silvery schools of anchovies swirl above you, leopard sharks cruise by, colorful rockfish, and sea bass swim close enough to look directly into their eyes.

Snake habitat at Aquarium of the Bay
A juvenile boa at Aquarium of the Bay

If You Go:

Aquarium of the Bay
The Embarcadero & Beach Street
San Francisco, California 94133

Photos by Lisa Crovo Dion

I was a guest of the Aquarium of the Bay.