I grew up going to the New England Aquarium, both with my family and on school field trips, and was excited to return this past month with my own children. In the heart of Boston, the aquarium opened in 1969 and has over one million visitors each year. There are over 20,000 sea creatures who live at the aquarium and visitors are able to explore four floors of exhibits in addition to outdoor plaza exhibits and the Simons Theater.
The aquarium is open all year, with extended hours during summer months. More information on museum hours and admission here. Discounts on tickets include the Boston CityPASS and Go Boston Card, and reciprocity for members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Information on whale watch tours can be found here.
This map outlines the four levels of exhibition space. Most guests start at level four and walk down the ramps to the main level.
There are five parking garages within a half mile of the aquarium; this worksheet has helpful information as it relates to parking and taking the T. Visitors can also take the T Blue Line to the Aquarium stop, or the ferry from three commuter ferries: Hingham Shipyard, Salem, and Winthrop Ferries to Rowan’s Wharf, which is less than a five minute walk. More information on driving directions here.
Restrooms are located on the main level behind the admission desk and lockers are available for rent.
The aquarium is handicap accessible and strollers are allowed in most exhibits (there is stroller parking in some of the smaller spaces).
Visitors must exit through the Gift Shop on the main level.
Plan on 2-3 hours to explore all four floors of exhibits, with additional time for shows in the Simons Theater or animal feedings.
10 Things to Do at the New England Aquarium:
1. Compare the size of various shark teeth and bites in the Science of Sharks exhibit.
2. Learn the various behaviors and ways of communication of the African penguins in the Blue Planet Action Center. There are over 60 African and rockhopper penguins that call the aquarium home and visitors can watch the penguins being fed, weighed, and cleaned throughout the day.
3. Watch the Northern Fur Seals swim on their backs; the New England Aquarium is only one of three aquariums in America where the fur sea lions call home.
4. Compare your height with the height of a whale or a shark.
5. Be on the lookout for a rare (1 in 2 million) blue lobster in the Isle of Shoals lobster exhibit.
6. Peer down into the giant ocean tank from the fourth floor Coral Reef Center. The 200,000 salt water gallon tank is 23 feet deep, 40 feet wide and is home to hundreds of Caribbean reef animals, including Myrtle, the 90 year old sea turtle.
7. Search for the smallest sea creature (perhaps the Caribbean dwarf seahorses) and largest (perhaps Myrtle, she’s over 550 pounds!) in the aquarium.
8. Attempt to count the number of local blueback herring swimming in the School of Fish exhibit (hint, it’s close to 2,000!)
9. Attend a daily Animal Encounter, whether it be a touch tank, feeding, or show. Note: These activities are currently offered virtually during pandemic restrictions in 2021.
10. Catch a movie at the Simons Theatre, located across the plaza from the main aquarium. The theater has similar hours to the aquarium and features 20-25 minute films on a six story screen. See the current features here. Note: There is an additional fee for films.
Dining & Lodging Near the Aquarium:
On site dining facilities include the Central Snack Bar and the Harbor View Restaurant- more information on hours and menu here.
The Marriott Long Wharf Boston is located next to the aquarium and is a full service hotel with many amenities.
For other nearby fun in Boston, check out our adventures at the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, the Charleston Navy Yard and USS Constitution, the Old State House and Boston National Historical Park, the Massachusetts State House, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Disclaimer: My family was given a media pass to visit the aquarium; All opinions expressed are my own.