Heal the Bay Aquarium#6 in Best Things To Do in Santa Monica
Price & Hours
Tucked beneath the Santa Monica Pier, Heal the Bay Aquarium aims to educate locals and tourists about the aquatic creatures that live in Santa Monica Bay. At this small aquarium, you'll find exhibits for more than 100 local species, plus hands-on activities (think: touch tanks) and daily educational programs, such as animal feedings and discussions hosted by aquarium scientists. Some of the creatures you may see here include red octopuses, sea jellies, swell sharks and stingrays.
Past visitors praised the aquarium's informative staff and interesting displays, though a few said that the tanks could benefit from some cleaning and maintenance. Despite its small size, many enjoyed their visits, noting that the minimal entrance fee is well worth paying.
Heal the Bay Aquarium's location under the pier makes it easy to tack onto a day at the beach or Pacific Park. It's also within walking distance of Tongva Park, the Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place, so you can leave your car in one place and walk between attractions. There is no designated parking lot for the aquarium, but you'll find numerous garages and metered spaces in the area. Big Blue Bus stops and the LA Metro's Downtown Santa Monica Station are situated nearby as well.
On-site amenities include a gift shop and restrooms. The aquarium welcomes visitors daily between 12:30 and 5 p.m., though it's currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tickets cost $7 for out-of-state travelers ages 13 and older and $5 for California residents with valid IDs; children 12 and younger get in for free. Visit the official Heal the Bay Aquarium website to learn more.
More Best Things To Do in Santa Monica
#1 Santa Monica Pier and Beach
Santa Monica's 3 ½ miles of shoreline, known as Santa Monica State Beach, are renowned as some of the area's best thanks to the soft sands, ideal weather and bevy of attractions. In addition to the gorgeous stretch of sand, the beach is home to unique amenities like the Original Muscle Beach (a 1930s-era beach park with retro gym equipment) and the International Chess Park. What's more, the beach offers traditional facilities, such as the North Beach Playground and the Annenberg Community Beach House. But perhaps the beach's best-known attraction is its famous pier.
Stretching from the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Ocean Front Walk (the end of Route 66) to a spot above Santa Monica Bay, the Santa Monica Pier is the beach's most recognizable landmark. Not only will you see it in countless photos of the city, but you'll also catch a glimpse of it in several films, including "Forrest Gump." Some of its most popular amenities include a historic carousel, Heal the Bay Aquarium and Pacific Park, which boasts an assortment of arcade games, rides and food stalls.
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