Aquarium of the Bay Tickets (9 Tips for Discounts)

This post will cover all the details you need to get tickets for the Aquarium of the Bay, including discounts, how to plan your visit, exhibits on display and more.

 

 


TICKETS

There are a few different ticket options to consider including general admission and family bundles.

  • General Admission: $27.95/Adults | $17.95/Kids | $22.95/Seniors
  • Family Bundle (2 Adults + 2 Kids): $75
  • Kids under 3 get in for free
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

Tickets can be used during opening hours between 10 am – 6 pm each day.

There are also two tours you may want to consider: a Behind-the-Scenes tour and a Feed the Sharks tour. 

These add-ons require an additional fee on top of the cost of a ticket.

Behind-the-Scenes

  • $17 per person
  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Availability: Daily at 1 pm
  • Extended Availability: Fri-Sun at 4 pm

Feed the Sharks

  • $27 per person
  • Duration: 75 minutes
  • Availability: Tue, Thur, Sun at 2:30 pm
  • Includes Behind-the-Scenes tour

Since their Feed the Sharks tour includes a Behind-the-Scenes experience, it is not recommended to take both tours.

 


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DISCOUNTS

In this section, we will provide information about the best ways to save money on tickets for the Aquarium of the Bay including tourist attraction passes, combo packages and other discount opportunities.


Tourist Attraction Discount Passes

Tickets to the Aquarium of the Bay are included on multiple tourist attraction discount passes.

A tourist pass will allow you to save money on general admission prices at several popular destinations in San Francisco.

 

 

While most passes let you pay one flat price for dozens of activities that you can enjoy over a specific number of days, others let you choose a set number of attractions.

In addition to providing a discount, some services also include skip-the-line privileges at certain locations.

The following tourist passes include admission to the Aquarium of the Bay:

  • Go San Francisco Card
  • San Francisco Explorer Pass
  • San Francisco Sightseeing Pass
  • Build Your Own San Francisco Pass
  • San Francisco Mega Pass
  • San Francisco iVenture Card
  • San Francisco CityPASS
  • Pier 39 Attraction Pass

These services could save you 50% or more on various attractions in San Francisco, including the Aquarium of the Bay.

For more details on how to use them and how they work, make sure to read our post covering San Francisco tourist attraction discount passes.


Combo Packages

The Aquarium of the Bay offers several combo ticket options which include additional activities around Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf.

Each of these combo deals will save you at least a few bucks off general admission prices on both activities. 

Here are the current packages available:

Big Bus Classic Tour + Aquarium

  • $74/Adults | $57/Kids | $69/Seniors
  • Save up to $8.45 on both tickets.
  • Tickets must be used within 48 hours of each other.

Big Bus Deluxe Tour + Aquarium

  • $96/Adults | $78/Kids | $91/Seniors
  • Save up to $9.45 on both tickets.
  • Tickets must be used within 48 hours of each other.

Blue & Gold Bay Cruise + Aquarium

  • $55/Adults | $38/Kids | $47/Seniors
  • Save up to $6.45 on both tickets.

These are just a few of the better options, but the following packages are also offered by the Aquarium of the Bay:

  • Aquarium + Exploratorium
  • Aquarium + 7D Experience
  • Madame Tussauds + Aquarium
  • Aquarium + San Francisco Dungeon
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not + Aquarium

For additional details, check this list of Aquarium of the Bay combo deals.

Alcatraz Day Trip Combos

If you’re also interested in visiting Alcatraz Island, it’s worth noting that some day trips include both that activity and tickets to the Aquarium.

These outings are usually multiple-day excursions, and they also include a trip to Yosemite Valley.

Alcatraz Day Tour + Yosemite + Aquarium

  • $259/Adults | $219/Youth
    • 2 ½ hour day tour of Alcatraz
    • Aquarium of the Bay tickets
    • Guided tour of Yosemite Valley
    • 3 hours of free time in Yosemite Valley
    • Purchase tickets or learn more.

Alcatraz Evening Tour + Yosemite + Aquarium

  • $269/Adults | $229/Youth
    • Evening tour of Alcatraz
    • Aquarium of the Bay tickets
    • Yosemite Valley guided tour
    • 3 hours of free time in Yosemite Valley
    • Purchase tickets or learn more.

Although the day tour combo package is often readily available, the evening tour deal sells out quite frequently for months at a time.

This is likely due to the fact that the evening Alcatraz tour is only offered a few times per night, making those tickets more difficult to obtain.

If you’re interested in seeing Alcatraz at night, make sure to purchase this combo ticket well in advance.

For more details on this activity, read our post covering Alcatraz tours.


Military Discounts

The Aquarium of the Bay offers $4 off general admission to honor the men and women who serve in our military.

This discount is available to active duty, veterans, and retirees, but it is not valid for dependents or reserve service members.

These tickets must be purchased at one of the following locations:

  • Beale Air Force Base
  • Travis Air Force Base

Locals Discount

If you live in one of the 9 counties of the San Francisco Bay Area, you qualify for a discount on tickets to the Aquarium of the Bay.

The following rates are available for local visitors:

  • $24/Adults | $15/Children | $20/Seniors
  • Discount applies to all family members

Guests must provide proof of residence by showing either their driver’s license or identification which includes an address in the San Francisco Bay Area.


AAA Discount

Aquarium of the Bay visitors who are also AAA members can save up to 17% off adult tickets and 27% off child/senior tickets.

If you’re planning to take the whole family, this could easily end up saving you a lot of money. A family with 2 adults and 2 children would save over $19 on tickets!

Discounts are automatically applied when purchasing admission from the AAA member ticket site.


Discount Sites

This is another excellent alternative to the other discounts available on tickets to the Aquarium of the Bay.

Websites such as Groupon and LivingSocial often provide discounts on several fun and popular attractions in San Francisco, including the Aquarium.

In addition to the deals they offer, these sites also frequently offer extra coupon codes for 20% off local activities, which could save you even more money on tickets.

Make sure to check for banners at the top and bottom of the page before making a purchase for any additional discount codes that may be available.

 


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PLAN YOUR VISIT

This section will cover all the details you need to plan your visit to the Aquarium of the Bay.

We’ll provide information about how to get there, best times to visit and hours of operation.

 


This photo of Aquarium of the Bay is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

The aquarium is located very close to many family-friendly attractions.

If you’re wondering about some of these additional activities, make sure to read our post covering things to do with kids in San Francisco.


How to Get Here

The Aquarium of the Bay is located on Pier 39, near the corner of Embarcadero & Beach Street. This is very close to Fisherman’s Wharf.

 

Aquarium of the Bay San Francisco Map

 

There are various ways to get to the Aquarium:

Streetcar

You can take the F line trolley from the Union Square area, the Castro District, Downtown SF, or the Ferry Building from Embarcadero. The F line will take you straight to the Aquarium Bay.

BART

No matter where you are in the Bay Area, you can take BART to Embarcadero station, which is just a few minutes away from the Aquarium.

Driving

If you plan to drive, your travel time and directions will vary depending on where you’re coming from in San Francisco.

To get the best directions, use this google map for more information.

Parking

Public parking is allowed at Aquarium. The parking facility is located at Pier 35 or directly opposite the main entrance, which is at the Pier 39 garage. The garage is available for use 24 hours of the day, 7 hours a week!


Best Times to Visit

The Aquarium of the Bay is open from 10 am – 6 pm daily. There are early closures (at 3 pm) on both November 22nd and December 24th in honor of the holidays. The aquarium will be fully closed on Christmas day.

 

Aquarium of the Bay Popular Times

 

In addition to these details, it’s worth noting that the aquarium is busier during the weekends than it is on weekdays. If you want to avoid the crowds, you should consider making your trip on a weekday.

 

Aquarium of the Bay Popular Times Weekends

 

The aquarium is also much quieter between the hours of 10 am – 12 pm and 4 pm – 6 pm, so you may want to get there either earlier or later in the day.


About the Aquarium

The Aquarium of the Bay is a wonderful attraction located right on the waterfront of the amazing Pier 39 of San Francisco. 

The aquarium was originally created to promote freshwater and ocean preservation. However, it has since become one of the most visited attractions in San Francisco. 

The Aquarium of the Bay is a great place for enjoying the sea life, and also for learning! The interactive exhibits provide every visitor with a hands-on learning opportunity. 

Everybody from preschool children to college students and adults can have a great time with the marine excursions. In some of the exhibits, you even get to touch and feed the wildlife (including sharks!).

 


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WHAT TO SEE AT THE AQUARIUM OF THE BAY

The Aquarium of the Bay features over 20,000 marine creatures, most of which you’ve never seen before (and many that you’ve never heard of before!)

In the aquarium, there are octopuses, sharks, jellyfishes, anchovies, otters, rockfish, monkey-faced eels, decorator crabs, perch, urchin, Garibaldi, and so on. 

 

 

There are over 50 different species of sharks including the Broadnose Sevengill shark which is a 10-foot long female. There is also the Leopard shark with captivating stripes, the Soupfin and a Swellshark.

The rest of this section will detail some of the best exhibits and activities to enjoy at this aquarium.


Discover the Bay

This is an exhibition where get to see the satellite tanks which contains all the animals such as the eels, the rockfish, the anchovies and many more.


Under the Bay

Under the Bay is the largest exhibit in the aquarium. You get to the 91 meters deep tunnels and thousands of captivating sea animals. This exhibit is the recreation of the San Francisco Bay. It is also known as the Shark Tunnel.

 

 


Touch the Bay

This exhibit is a fun experience where the visitors get to touch different types of sea animals such as skates, leopard sharks, bat rays, sea stars, sea cucumbers, and anemones. You can also touch terrestrial sea animals such as newts, frogs, toads, snakes, and skinks.


Enhanced Access

The enhanced access features a tour of areas which are not accessible for public viewing. These features include a tour of the holding tank for new animals and a catwalk above the aquarium. You can enjoy this wonderful tour for 45 minutes!


Feed the Sharks Tour

The feed the shark tour allows you to feed the sea creatures on exhibit. During this tour, you get a bucket of seafood to feed the sharks, rays and other fish in the aquarium’s exhibit. This 75-minute tour includes the behind-the-scenes tour with enhanced access.

 

 


Youth Group Sleepovers

You can get an experience of a lifetime sleeping with the sharks at Aquarium of the Bay! 

In the youth group sleepover, you and your friends can enjoy a night sleeping in the tunnels of the “Under the Bay” exhibit as sharks and hundreds of fish swim above you. 

The cost for a sleepover is only $75 per person with a group minimum of 25 people to a maximum of 45. The aquarium sleepovers are quite popular so ensure you book in advance for a chance to sleep with some sharks!


Gift Shop

After enjoying the great tour of the aquarium, you can visit the gift shop where you can shop with friends and family. 

At the shop, you can buy bay related souvenirs and gifts such as figurines, jewelry, accessories and apparels.


Eating at the Aquarium

You don’t have to worry about food when going to the Aquarium of the Bay. Aside from its world-class aquarium and lovely gift shop, there is also an eatery at Aquarium of the Bay. At the cafeteria, you can get a variety of nice meals which you will enjoy after your tour. 

That said, it’s worth noting that there are also a lot of great places to eat at Pier 39 and in Fisherman’s Wharf. For more details, make sure to read our post about what to eat at Fisherman’s Wharf.

 


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About the author

Manager | San Francisco

Britt is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and has spent 25 years in this magical city. He has traveled to over 30 countries, and has never found a place he loves as much as this one! If you come to San Francisco, you might join one of Britt's tours of the city.

A graduate of the University of Maryland and University of Southern California, he has been leading tours for Free Tours by Foot since 2015.