About The Visitor Center
Crab Cove Visitor Center at Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda features all new exhibits opened in April 2004. You can see bay creatures in the 800-gallon aquarium system, use interactive stations for varying age groups to view microscopic animals, build a crab from the inside out, or get a lug worm's view of the mudflats. You'll see amazing depictions of the underwater world of San Francisco Bay. At the Visitor Center you can also plunge into San Francisco Bay without getting wet, or travel back in time to Alameda's colorful past.
These entertaining educational opportunities all have a serious purpose--to increase public understanding of the environmental importance of San Francisco Bay. There is strong emphasis on the interdependence of marine life and shore life and on the urgency of preserving the marine and estuarine environment.
Dedicated to interpreting relationships between people and the earth's marine environment, this center attracts visitors from all over the Bay Area.
A focal point for this educational effort is the Visitor Center's Old Wharf Classroom. There, in a picturesque setting, youngsters and adults alike can learn about such topics as shoreline wildlife and the food chains that sustain all living creatures.
The waterless plunge takes the form of a display case showing a cross-section of bay, with lifelike models of shoreline and underwater animals. Adjacent rooms contain an aquarium and lots of interactive exhibits.
Education continues just outside the center, where the Crab Cove Marine Protected Area, at the foot of McKay Avenue, was designated the first California estuarine marine reserve. Its mud flat and rocky shore area are an important wildlife habitat. A special ramp allows wheelchair users to explore the tidepools at low tide. Collecting or disturbing creatures in this protected area is forbidden, thus preserving a unique shoreline environment for study and education.
Naturalist-guided programs for school groups and other organized groups are available Wednesday through Friday by advance reservation. See the Field Trips page for details or call visitor center at (510) 521-6887. Weekend programs provide exciting opportunities for you to learn about Bay ecology and the local area; download our monthly program guide to see a list of upcoming activities.
Up until the late 1930s, the area now occupied by the visitor center was part of a thriving resort community featuring bathing spas and an amusement park. Later, during and just after World War II, it was the site of the U.S. Maritime Service Officers School, a training base for Merchant Marine commanders. What is now the visitor center building was the base infirmary.