Answers About Reservations, Parking, Arrival and More
How do I make a reservation?
Please read these Frequently Asked Questions and the Descriptions of Programs and Tours for School-Aged Programs and Tours and for Adult / Family Programs and Tours. Those pages will direct you to an online reservation request form. You can also call (415) 289-7330 to make a reservation but please be prepared to answer the questions on the reservation form.
Please note: sending in your reservation request form does not guarantee that your program is confirmed. You must wait to hear back from us, and receive a confirmation packet and invoice from us.
How far in advance should I request a reservation?
Make your reservation request several months in advance if possible, because all reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis. Spring is the busiest time of the year, so plan ahead for these days.
When will I hear back about my request?
You will get a reply email or phone call within two weeks of your request. We will let you know if one of your dates will work, or will suggest other dates and times.
How will I know that my date is confirmed?
We will tell you by phone or email that your date is confirmed, and usually within two weeks we will send your confirmation packet and invoice by email (or by mail or fax if you prefer).
How would you like me to pay?
Payment is due by one month prior to the date of your program. If payment is not received by one month before your program, or if you have not called to make special arrangements, your program may be canceled.
We accept a check or a school district purchase order. A credit card number may be given over the phone (call 415-289-7330).
Cancellation and Refund Policy:
- Refunds or rescheduling (time and space permitting) are available if we receive your cancellation at least four weeks before the date of your visit.
- Cancellations received between 14 and 30 days before the date of your program will be charged 25% of your total original fee. Cancellations less than two weeks before the date of your program will be charged 100% of your total original fee.
- If a fee remains unpaid six months after the due date, groups will not be allowed to schedule a future program with The Marine Mammal Center until payment is made.
- If extreme weather or related road closures prevent you from reaching our site we will do our best to reschedule your program/tour date. If there is no mutually agreeable date and time, you will be given a refund.
We request that you provide at least one chaperone for every 7 students under high school age for programs at our Center.
For Whale Bus programs at your site, we request that the regular classroom teacher be present.
There are a few outside picnic tables available on a first come first served basis at our Center.
Snacks and cold drinks are the only food available for purchase in our Gift Shop. There are no restaurants in the Marin Headlands – you must drive to Sausalito for the nearest ones.
We prefer that students younger than high school age do not have lunch at the picnic tables at our Center, because we have a no-running or yelling policy in effect at all times. We would like to recommend that you drive in your vehicles (freeing up space in our parking lot) to the picnic area located near the Rodeo Beach parking lot – next to restrooms and water. It is about 1/3 mile away from our Center.
Parking and Buses
Buses park outside the main gate to our facility in the large dirt lot, since there is not room for them in our parking lot. We prefer that passengers unload outside the gate and walk up the hill to our Center. If passengers cannot walk up the hill the bus can drive up to unload passengers at the front entrance. The bus must then back up part of the way down the hill before it can turn around.
Carpooling is encouraged for environmental reasons, and because our parking lot is not very big.
What are the group size limits?
- School-age groups visiting The Marine Mammal Center: 35 including chaperones (two groups can be here at once for a Tour/Class Combo or two Tours).
- Adult or family groups visiting The Marine Mammal Center: 20 people (up to 25 with additional fees; two groups can be here at once for programs)
- Whale Bus presentations: 35 students, 30 for Pre-K/K (up to 4 presentations in a day)
Can we bring two classes to The Marine Mammal Center at the same time?
Yes, we can accommodate two groups participating in programs at the same time. We recommend the Tour/Class Combo for both groups at the same time: during the first hour, one group participates in a classroom program while the other group is on the tour; during the second hour the groups switch.
Below is an example of the Tour/Class Combo for two fourth or fifth grade classes:
- 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Group A is in our classroom for a program called Moving Up the Food Chain and Group B is on a Tour called Seals, Sea Lions and Sustenance
- 11:15 – 12:15 p.m. Group B is in our classroom for Moving Up the Food Chain and Group A is on a Seals, Sea Lions and Sustenance Tour
We are also able to lead two Tours at the same time.
Is there ADA access?
Yes, we are ADA accessible throughout our Center.
May we stay longer for a self-guided visit after our tour or program?
Yes, you are welcome to linger, but we ask you to be courteous of other groups arriving for their scheduled programs. You may wish to visit the gift shop or watch the animals, etc., a little longer.
May student groups visit the gift shop before their visit?
We prefer that you do not allow students to go in the gift shop before your program is scheduled to start, because then it is difficult to get everyone ready to start on time.
May students visit the gift shop after their visit?
Yes, they are welcome as long as there is one chaperone for every seven children while in the gift shop. Before you arrive please be sure that the students and chaperones are aware if they can visit the gift shop as part of your day. We ask that students who did not bring money do not enter the gift shop. It is not a “touch tank”!
How long should we plan for our visit?
Most people stay a little more than one hour. People with very young children tend to spend a little less time here.
Are scholarships available for school-age programs?
There are limited scholarships available. Please inquire when you turn in your reservation request.
What do we do if we arrive early?
If you arrive ~15 minutes early, please stay near our front door and wait for our instructor to greet your group. Students may use the restrooms but should not enter further into the facility. Please be respectful of other groups that might be participating in a tour or program before yours.
If you arrive more than 30 minutes early, you may want to go for a walk or visit the beach for a while.
How long before scheduled start time should we arrive?
Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled start time.
Our gates open to the public shortly before 10:00 a.m., so you will not be able to come up to our Center until after they open.
What happens if we arrive late?
We have built a little bit of wiggle room in our schedule, and may be able to accommodate you. However, if there are other groups that are scheduled after your program or tour we must end on time. We will not start their program late. In this case your group will not receive a full hour of instruction.