It’s our fourth aquarium this year… Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta… the experiences are beginning to blur. They all have fish, turtles, frogs, seahorses, sharks, rays, a ray touch pond, a touchable reef, birds, jelly fish, and penguins. The things that were unique in this experience were the California Otters and octopuses. For some reason we have been searching for octopuses for a while but have not been able to find any in an Aquarium. They had them here and in spades.

This Monterey Aquarium is extremely popular with Northern Californians. On weekends, people will travel from the SF Bay Area and other regions to experience the Aquarium. And for the long weekend, not only was it packed, but it was packed well into the night. After the Aquarium’s regular closing hour, they hosted a late night dance party (free with previous admission) in honour of the holiday. And, even though it was super busy, there are still areas to sit and relax and find space.

There was one thing that helped us survive the experience: the concierge at our hotel. Honestly, I want to hug this woman. She approached us in the lobby and after seeing La Niña asked if we were planning a trip to the Aquarium. When we said we were but were unsure of the timing she mentioned a few things that helped us decide.

Some of the hotels in the area get a special deal with the Aquarium where you can purchase two days for the same price of one. This helped us because we went for some time on Saturday and after getting overwhelmed with the crowd, went back in the morning on Sunday when it was much quieter. Because of this, we had the freedom to come and go as we liked over the weekend.

The second thing (and real time saver) was purchasing our tickets at the hotel. Having those tickets in hand when you arrive saves… oh about… and hour and a half of waiting in the crazy line that wraps all the way around the Aquarium! Instead of waiting… we walked to the front and walked into the Aquarium.

The third thing was mentioning that Monterey has a free trolley that runs around the historical district and too the Aquarium. This saved us 20-minutes of walking (though we enjoyed the walk). She also told us to use the stop in front of the Portola Hotel and Spa, where there was no line up to get on and at this stop the trolley is empty. Our tip for this one: get off at the stop before the aquarium. Traffic is so bad because both cars and people jam up Cannery Row. Walking is much faster.