Touch a shark or ray in the shark and ray touch tank. Watch the harbor seals frolic around their 42,000-gallon exhibit. See a movie all about the blue planet. If you are planning a trip to Boston, MA, you’ll have to check out the New England Aquarium Boston, which is located right on the Boston waterfront. It’s open year round, and you can easily spend hours there. Kids who love ocean life will enjoy a morning or afternoon there.
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A Review of the New England Aquarium Boston
Upon entering the New England aquarium, you can purchase tickets outside (members can skip the line and go inside, and non-members can purchase tickets online to skip the line). Sometimes this line can be pretty long, but you may consider buying tickets online instead. When purchasing tickets, you’ll have the option of a standard aquarium ticket, a combination ticket with the IMAX theater, and combination tickets with various tours and animal encounters included.
You can also get admission to the New England Aquarium through a CityPASS purchase. This pass also gives you access to other popular Boston attractions, like the Boston Museum of Science. If you are visiting Boston on vacation, or plan to spend some time in the city, it may be worth the cost savings (as long as you plan to use everything the pass comes with).
Visiting the New England Aquarium
Make sure you first stop and check out the Harbor Seals as you enter the aquarium. Then, start out at the Shark and Ray touch tank right past the main entrance. To get the best experience, prepare your kids in advance for the tank – they’ll need to hold their hands steady and be super-quiet to touch the rays. My kids were a little nervous when they were younger and it definitely helped to talk about it first.
As with most family attractions, arriving early usually results in the best experience. Keep in mind that weekdays are often busy with field trips during the school year. The middle of the day is generally the busiest.
Enter the main section of the aquarium, where you can see the popular penguin exhibit (my kids’ favorite). Stick around for awhile, and you may even see the penguin feeding time. Once you finish with the penguins, you’ll enter the spiral area of the aquarium, where you’ll see the New England Aquarium giant ocean tank. My kids love standing in one of the sections, just watching what goes by (highlights include a giant turtle and a shark). Go to the top of the giant ocean tank to see the divers entering the tank – something else that my kids enjoy watching.
As it gets crowded in the aquarium, it can be nice to stand in one of the alcoves by the giant ocean tank. It’s a good way to step away from the crowds, and to see lots of different types of fish.
The exhibits along the outside of the spiral are of minimal interest to my kids – but they do love the Edge of the Sea exhibit, where they can touch starfish and other little creatures. Another favorite is the Marine Mammal Center, where you can see seals and sea lions, and maybe even catch some training. Other exhibits include the Science of Sharks, the sea jellies, the Gulf of Maine, and the Amazon Rainforest.
If time permits during your visit, check out a movie at the adjacent Simons IMAX Theater, which generally features ocean-themed movies on the huge screen. In season, you can also purchase tickets to a Whale Watch that leaves from Boston Harbor.
The aquarium has some family amenities, like storage lockers, a gift shop, the Harbor View Cafe, and the Reef (open seasonally). Strollers can be difficult to maneuver around the aquarium.
The New England Aquarium Boston is located by the MBTA’s blue line. If you are driving, there are some nearby garages – but be prepared – they are pretty expensive.
The New England Aquarium
Boston, MA 02110-3399
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