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Image: New York Aquarium The 10 Best Aquariums to Visit During a Family Vacation
Looking to spark your kiddos’ sense of wonder and find an
entertaining destination on your next family vacation? Aquariums are a year-round option for mind-blowing family fun that kids (and parents!) of all ages will enjoy.
From seeing exotic sea life to engaging in
interactive experiences and learning about the ocean and all its beautiful creatures, there is so much to gain from an aquarium visit for your family. Whether you are looking for a fun day trip, an activity for a weekend away or longer, we’ve found the best aquariums for you to visit from coast to coast.
More Family Travel Ideas:
The 10 Best Aquariums to Visit During a Family Vacation
Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta, GA)
family-friendly aquarium in the south earns high marks with travel sites and is a must-see if you're in the area. Atlanta is quite a hub, and there are many nearby vacation destinations to consider, so it follows that their aquarium would be among the best. Locals enjoy the ocean fish and shark exhibit, and say no trip to the Georgia Aquarium would be complete without tickets to the dolphin show. Make sure to bring a rain coat!
Mystic Aquarium (Mystic, CT)
New England Aquarium in Boston is definitely a contender, we're touting this smaller nearby spot for a number of reasons, mostly location. Mystic Seaport is a veritable treasure when it comes to family vacation destinations, from the quaint, almost old school feeling to the numerous sea food restaurants, awesome shopping, historic museums, and more. Mystic Aquarium is intimate, well laid out, walkable for young legs, and filled with fun surprises like their interactive "touch pool" and a hilariously adorable sea lion show.
Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, CA)
This world renowned
California aquarium is a must-visit if you're in town. With a focus on local sea life and conservation, and boasting visually resplendent displays throughout, visitors resoundingly report that the experience is an excellent value for what you pay to enter. While you're in town hiking, swimming, shopping, and dining, set aside a day to enjoy the wonders of the ocean world at this interactive, eco-conscious aquarium.
New York Aquarium (Brooklyn, NY)
Any trip to New York City is going to blow your child's mind, but spend a day at the
New York Aquarium in Coney Island and you won't regret a second! A short train, taxi, or ferry ride from mainland Manhattan, an oasis of sea life is yours to behold with exhibits aimed at every age group. This gem is actually the oldest continuously running aquarium in the US, having been founded in the late 1800's. Compared to many NYC attractions, the admission tickets are quite affordable, and with an emphasis on conservation and teaching visitors about ocean wellness, your kids will leave feeling a sense of wonder and responsibility.
Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, IL)
From penguins to sharks and every sea-borne creature in between, the
Shedd Aquarium features over 32,000 animals. Meet the belugas and dolphins, watch the sea otters do their thing, explore multitudes of fish, and feed the sharks at this vast indoor emporium located right in the heart of Chicago. Ticket prices are stacked so you only pay for the exhibits you want to see, making it easy to plan the perfect visit for your family.
Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga, TN)
Smack dab between Atlanta, Georgia and Nashville, Tennessee is a smaller city that travelers and locals agree is a must-visit. Among the mountains, caves, shops, and restaurants in charming Chattanooga, Tennessee has
an aquarium that rivals the greats and wows visitors from all over the country and world each year. With a unique layout that many refer to as pleasantly "meandering," and both sea and fresh water creatures to enjoy, this family-friendly aquarium will be a hit with kids and parents of all ages and interests.
Sea Life Charlotte-Concord (Charlotte, NC)
There are actually a handful of cool aquariums in the Carolinas, but parents especially love
Sea Life in Charlotte because its interactive setup makes it a blast for kids. They boast an "ocean tunnel" where your family can interact with and even touch the sea creatures and amazing special events throughout the year. Check out the black-lit jelly fish in an incredible display, and learn about ocean conservation at an age-appropriate level.
Oregoan Coast Aquarium (Newport, OR)
Headed west? Try your best to schedule a day at the
Oregon Coast Aquarium situated right near the Pacific Ocean surrounded by breathtaking coastal views. Your children will be mesmerized as they make their way through this 23-acre aquarium featuring all the best fish, sea otters, aquarium reptiles, and other familiar sea life as well as a renowned sea bird exhibit unlike anything you've ever seen.
Sea Base at Walt Disney World (Orlando, FL)
Located inside Epcot at Walt Disney World in Florida, this
expansive aquarium experience is a great way to pepper your magical stay with some educational influence and keep babies through teens engaged in family-focused fun for a few hours. With scheduled fish feedings in the morning and afternoon, a Finding Nemo-themed watery adventure to hop onto, scuba divers to wave hello to, and snorkeling tours, it might not be the first thing you considered when booking your Disney trip, but it'll probably be one of the best things you do while on it!
National Aquarium (Baltimore, Maryland)
Just about an hour outside Washington, DC is another city chock full of adventure and sights to see... including those from the sea!
The National Aquarium located in Baltimore, MD has lots of viewing and interactive animal exhibits to amaze your tiny humans. They also have special early hours on the first weekend of each month for visitors on the autism spectrum to avoid long wait times and allow extra space to move around and enjoy the animals without the crowd; and half-price Friday nights for everyone.
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