Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do when my group arrives?
Arrival: It is a good idea to arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled tour or class time. This will give you time to check-in and help us stay on schedule. If you arrive more than 15 minutes late, we may not be able to accommodate your group at your reserved time. If your group is running late, please call our Education Department at (415) 623-5342.

Checking In: 
Groups should line up outside the Aquarium’s main entrance, on the upper deck. Due to safety concerns and space limitations, groups can not wait in the lobby area of the Aquarium. Please have only the  group leader check in with the front desk, make any additional payments for extra adults, and review the Behavior Agreement. Bring your confirmation letter with you. It is important that you know the correct number of students and chaperones when you check in. For every 5 students, 1 chaperone will be granted free admission; additional chaperones will have a discounted admission of $10 each.

How does my group get to the Aquarium and where do we park?

Directions and car parking:
Please visit our Directions page.

Bus Parking: 
Busses may only pick-up and drop-off in the PIER 39 passenger and taxi-loading zone on a space available basis.  This loading zone runs directly in front of the Aquarium.  Busses in the loading zone are restricted from idling; there is short-term bus parking near the Aquarium is permitted for up to 2 hours in the following areas:

  • The west side of Mason Street between Beach and North Point Streets

  • The north side of North Point Street between Mason and Taylor Streets

  • The east side of Hyde Street between Jefferson and Beach Streets

  • The east side of Jones Street just north of Beach Street.

What kind of weather should we dress for?
When visiting the aquarium, dress for cool weather. The San Francisco waterfront is almost always cool and breezy (even if it is hot where you are coming from!). Your students will have to wait outside the building while you are checking-in, so please be prepared for variable weather. Note: Some programs may take place outside.

Where can my class purchase lunch?
Aquarium of the Bay does not sell food or drinks. There are many eateries at PIER 39, but if you are not interested in this option, your group can bring bag lunches on their field trip. There is a lawn/park area with benches located along the waterfront immediately east of the Aquarium.


Aquarium of the Bay does not have a facility for eating or storing lunches. Please have students store their lunches in their backpacks or leave them in the car or bus and have a group of parents retrieve them a few minutes before your scheduled lunch break.

Will restrooms be easily accessible for my group?
Rest stops are difficult to make during our programs. Please have your students use the restrooms before your scheduled start time if possible. Restrooms are located between Aquarium of the Bay and Pier 39, as well as in the Aquarium’s Retail Store.

What else is there to see and do at PIER 39?
PIER 39 is one of San Francisco’s top destinations, with more than 110 stores, 11 full service restaurants, numerous entertainment attractions, and beautiful Bay views. For more information, phone 415-705-5500 or visit PIER 39's website.

Sea Lion Center: The famous PIER 39 sea lions can be found on the west side of PIER 39 on the K-Dock. Your class can use self-guided observation in viewing the sea lions and there is no fee.

Blue and Gold Fleet at Pier 41: 

Ferry service for Angel Island, Bay Cruise, Sausalito, Tiburon, Alameda/Oakland, and Vallejo. (415) 705-8200

Hyde Street Pier (National Park Service):

  • Hyde Street @ Jefferson Street

  • Historic Ships available 10:00am-5:00pm;

  • Reservations required, phone 415-556-3002

  • Students will have the opportunity to observe historical ships that have graced the waterfront throughout history. This trip is outdoors, and not appropriate during the rainy season.

Maritime Museum:

  • 900 Beach Street @ Polk Street.

  • 10:00am-5:00pm;

  • Reservations required two weeks in advance, phone 415-556-3002

  • The history of the Pacific Coast, San Francisco Bay, and the whaling industry are depicted in this wonderful museum. Students can enjoy the beach afterward at Aquatic Park, located behind the museum.

  • Information at: www.nps.gov/safr/local/mus.html.

Submarine Pompanito:

  • Pier 45

  • 9:00am-6:00pm;

  • Reservations required, phone 415-775-1943

  • The USS Pompanito is a retired submarine docked at Pier 45. Students explore the submarine's intricate interior on this guided tour.

Ghirardelli Square at 900 North Point
Historic Ghirardelli Square features specialty shops, award-winning restaurants, live entertainment, and the chocolate factory. For more information, phone 415-775-5500, or visit www.ghirardellisq.com.

The Cannery at 2801 Leavenworth
Once the largest peach cannery in the world, The Cannery is home to distinctive stores, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment. For more information, phone 415-771-3112 or visit www.thecannery.com.