Ranked one of the nation's top family attractions, Monterey's aquarium draws nearly two million visitors a year. On the border of one of the largest underwater canyons on Earth (wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon), it's surrounded by incredibly diverse marine life. One of the world's best and largest exhibit aquariums, it's home to more than 350,000 marine animals and plants, and about 550 species. A three-story, 335,000-gallon tank with clear acrylic walls offers stunning views of leopard sharks, sardines, anchovies, and other creatures swimming through a towering kelp forest. The 1.2-million-gallon Open Sea tank houses open-ocean life, including yellowfin tuna, large green sea turtles, barracuda, great white sharks (the first to be exhibited in an aquarium), giant ocean sunfish, and schools of bonito. The Giant Octopus and jellyfish exhibits are also amazing. Splash Zone (designed for kids up to 9) is an indoor, wet playground for the wee ones and displays of black-footed penguins, invertebrates, and other inhabitants of coral reefs and the cooler waters of Northern California. Everyone falls in love with the sea otters playing in their two-story exhibit. There are also coastal streams, tidal pools, a sand beach, and a petting pool, where you can touch living bat rays and handle sea stars. Tip: Avoid lines at the gate by ordering tickets in advance by calling tel. 800/756-3737 (or 831/648-4937 outside CA) or online through TicketWeb at On weekdays, it's best to arrive in the afternoon after the school kids have departed.