A Tale of Two Aquariums in San Francisco
Let’s say you are visiting San Francisco and for some reason you have the desire to visit an aquarium. You may be in the city with kids, you may want to do something different or you may have an interest for underwater creatures. Or maybe a rainy day limited your sightseeing options.
In that case, where to go?
You have two options, the Aquarium of the Bay or the Steinhart Aquarium. But which one is better?
Today is your lucky day because I am here to give you my opinion on both places. During my first visit to the city by the bay, I bought a City Pass. The pass included admission to both aquariums.
Here are my general thought and advice regarding both places.
Location: Inside (or integral part) of the Academy of Sciences.
If I were you, I will pick this aquarium. Why? The exhibitions are fabulous and there are tons of exotic creatures. Because it is part of the Academy of Sciences, you have the opportunity to check their other awesome displays. I mean you can visit a rainforest, aquarium, planetarium, museum, living roof and many others in one place. This is one of the top sights in San Francisco and it is totally worthwhile.
However, if you visit, take into considerations the following facts:
- The admission price is $29.95 for adults and $19.95 for kids. These prices can be hefty if you have a big family. Remember, you can save using discounts or a City Pass.
- To get the most bang for your buck, you have to turn this visit into an entire day affair. This may not fit your travel plans.
- The Academy of Sciences is located in the Golden Gate Park. If you have a car, you will have to pay for parking. If you are relying on public transportation, take into consideration that you need to take two buses to reach the place from downtown. The entire trip takes 45 to 60 minutes one way.
- The food inside the Academy is overpriced and with a generic flavor. There are not a lot of eating options in the area.
- Ideal for a rainy day. Check weather during your visit. I messed up and did the Academy on a sunny day. Then, I wasn’t able to have a good look at the Golden Gate Bridge because of fog.
Here are some pictures of the aquarium:
Aquarium of the Bay
Location: Next to Pier 39
I don’t want to be negative but I don’t think this is “must” or “advisable” thing to do. Adults pay $16.95 (kids $10.00) to get in. Ok, in theory, it is cheaper than what you pay at the Academy of Sciences. However, the exhibitions and offerings are very limited (and I didn’t even paid full price).
You can see the place in 1 or 2 hours because there is not a lot to see. Maybe I am biased because I visited the Steinhart Aquarium first. You get good information about the species living at the bay and see a lot of interesting creatures but I don’t feel the offering is strong enough to justify the price. Of course, I am not expecting to get well priced offerings in downtown San Francisco.
Let me say I still liked the place. My favorite part was a video showing how intelligent octopuses are. Weird but fascinating.
Anyway, you may want to visit because of several reasons:
- You have discounted tickets.
- You don’t want to travel with kids to the other side of town (this one is in downtown).
- You don’t have a lot of time.
- You are really bored.
Here are some pictures:
Additional advice: There is no reason to visit the Aquarium of the Bay if you visited the Steinhart Aquarium.
Have you visited one of these aquariums? What is your advice? Let me know in the comments section below.