Monterey Bay Aquarium
Ranked as one of the best aquariums in the country, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must-see attraction in Central California. Located at the north end of the historic Cannery Row district, this beautiful aquarium opens up the world of marine life to thousands of annual visitors with incredible displays, indoor-outdoor exhibits, and amazing animals.
One of the main attractions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the Kelp Forest, a massive 333,000-gallon 28-foot tall tank featuring leopard sharks, red octopi, and a variety of exotic fish. It's also the first aquarium tank to successfully grow a forest of California Giant Kelp, hence the name. Even more impressive is the Open Seas exhibit, a 1.2 million gallon saltwater tank with a 90-foot viewing window (pictured above) and housing green sea turtles, Pacific bluefin tuna, pelagic stingrays, moon jellies, and intimidating scalloped hammerhead sharks.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, unlike many aquariums, has only one resident mammal species, sea otters. Their cute and playful natural habitat exhibit has a two-floor observation, showing off the otter antics above and under the water. For a more interactive exhibit, try the Rocky Shore touch pool with mussels, eels, hermit crabs, starfish, and anemones. Finally finish out your tour with the incredible Life on the Bay exhibit, an outdoor ocean-view deck overlooking the marine-wildlife filled Monterey Bay. You'll be able to see wild elephant seals, humpback and gray whales, and even white sharks out in the open waters, effectively showcasing the purpose of marine conservation and the mission of the aquarium as a whole.