Monterey Bay, CA
Designed for Children
Children's education specialists helped design the facility, which caters to kids of all ages -- even infants and toddlers. A boatload of brand-new interactive exhibits earns the aquarium an enthusiastic "two thumbs up" from families. But beware: The kids will have so much fun you'll have a whale of a time dragging them home. Reserve 3 1/2 to 4 hours for your visit.
- Splash Zone
This popular family learning gallery is an all-time favorite. More than 30 hands-on exhibits about the ocean habitat capture young visitors' imaginations. Some of the more rare inhabitants include a colony of blackfooted penguins, monkeyface eels, and Wobbegong sharks.
- Coral Reef Play Area
Your little sea urchins will dig dressing up like crabs, clown fish and whales. After they pose for a photo inside a "giant clam" chair, send them on a crawling cruise through the Coral Crawl Tunnel (parents can go, too!), where they'll peer through glass windows and get nose-to-nose with sea horses, ribbon eels, and harlequin shrimp. Rarely seen leafy sea dragons await on the other side of the tunnel.
- Coral Cove
This exhibit for toddlers (under 3) has crawl areas, a waterbed on which they can feel the motion of water, and an above-ground "sink" with floating rubber fish.
- Mysteries of the Deep
More than 40 species -- including catsharks, ratfish, and apple anemones never before seen in an aquarium -- are on display in this 7,000-square-foot exhibit exploring the ocean depths. Most of the creatures were collected from waters 3,300 feet beneath the surface.
- Outer Bay Gallery
The centerpiece of this award-winning exhibition is a million-gallon tank with the world's largest viewing window (54 feet long, 15 feet tall). Through it, you can see giant ocean sunfish, tuna, sharks, barracudas, and sea turtles. Also, check out the jellyfish gallery, the largest exhibit of its kind at the aquarium.
- Kelp Forest Feeding Show
Get a diver's-eye view of a live seaweed forest at this towering 28-foot-high exhibit. Ask the diver questions, and get answers as he speaks to you via a two-way communication mask.
- Touch Pool
Ever pet a bat ray? They look slimy, but they're not. Try it! We dare ya! It's an experience you won't forget. Your kids will get a kick out of touching the rays, sea stars, abalone, and other live marine creatures.