Encounter stunning views of the spectacular underwater ecosystems in our very own backyard, from kelp forests filled with vivid Garibaldi fish to rocky reefs blanketed in vibrant pink anemones and colorful corals.

California Coast invites visitors to explore the astounding richness of our own coastal waters. Be dazzled by an enormous window revealing the underwater haunts of eels, anemones, rockfish, and more; take in a series of smaller jewel tanks highlighting some of the area’s most fascinating residents; and get your hands wet while interacting with starfish and urchins.  


A large, round window presents an underwater view of the California Coast Kelp Forest.

Northern California Coast

This 100,000-gallon tank replicates habitats of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, from quiet salt marshes to turbulent rocky inlets. Stroll the surface walkway to smell the seawater and witness the filling and draining of tide pools, then head below to see what lives in the sanctuary's strong, nutrient-rich ocean currents.

An orange and pink rosy rockfish swims above small, pink anemones in Rocky Reef

Rocky Reefs

Our latest addition to the California Coast exhibit is an astoundingly colorful, 2,000-gallon tank filled with vibrant brittle stars, painted greenlings, and rosy rockfish, giving visitors a glimpse into the vast array of fish and invertebrates that thrive in California’s National Marine Sanctuaries.

A visitor stands at the Tidepool Explorer station.

Get Involved

At the Tidepool Explorer station, visitors can experience what it's like to participate in citizen science—and learn more about how to protect California's vibrant and vital coastal ecosystems.

A visitor gently touches a large starfish at the Discovery Tidepool touch tank.

Discovery Tidepool

Touch and examine ocean creatures at the Discovery Tidepool, where Steinhart Aquarium biologists and docents help visitors of all ages interact with and learn about starfish, sea urchins, and other creatures native to the California coastline.

A giant Pacific Octopus emerges onto a rock for feeding.

And So Much More

Don’t miss our giant Pacific octopus, halibut, and the Southern California Kelp Forest, housing colorful Garibaldis and other fish that glide through strands of giant kelp.