10 Ways to Explore the Long Island Aquarium in New York

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One of the most popular attractions on Long Island, New York (less than 90 minutes from Manhattan), the Long Island Aquarium is home to 565 species and over 5,000 individual animals. The aquarium opened in 2000 and has expanded across three acres with over 100 indoor and outdoor exhibits and 48 aquatic habitats. Some of the most popular attractions include one of the largest all living coral reef displays in the Western Hemisphere, the Penguin Encounter, a 120,000 gallon shark tank, and shows featuring sea lions, African penguins, and Marmosets.  The entire aquarium is designed to recreate the Lost City of Atlantis, and little children will LOVE all of the hidden spots and tunnels to crawl through and explore throughout the exhibit spaces.

Travel Tips:

  • The aquarium is open 363 days a year (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas) at 10am, with varying closing hours. Click here for information on promotions and discounts for veterans, law enforcement, seniors, and free admission on your birthday!
  • There is no designated aquarium parking lot. The best place to park is the large municipal lot one block past the aquarium, over the railroad tracks. There are several lots in town that give visitors free, two or three hour parking on the street parking. More information on parking and directions here
  • There are plenty of restrooms are located throughout the complex; the entire museum is handicap accessible and strollers are allowed.
  • Check here for a daily list of special events and feedings and check here for special events and programs, including sleeping over at the aquarium and tons of animal encounters.
  • There are several gift shops located throughout the complex, including The Boathouse, Enchanted Gifts, and City Treasures
  • Dining options on site include the Atlantic Cafe and Scoops Ice Cream & CandyHere is a list of nearby restaurants.
  • Plan on 2 hours to explore all exhibits and attend an animal feeding or show. Use this aquarium map for guidance. 

10 Ways to Have Fun at the Long Island Aquarium:

  1. Touch three different species of stingrays (and white spotted bamboo sharksin the 8,000 gallon Ray Bay tank.
  2. (Attempt to) Count the species of fish in the 20,000 galloon coral reef tank. Make sure to read the placards that showcase the various species and background information on the fishes. Hint: the total is close to 800!
  3. Try to get a butterfly to land on you while searching for the Atlas moth, one of the largest in the world, in the Butterfly, Bugs, and Birds Exhibit. There are over 40 species, and over 800 butterflies, in the exhibit each week. Note: The exhibit space opens at 11am.
  4. Look down into the 120,000 gallon shark tank that is home to  several varieties of sharks. Guests 12+ years or older can also sign up for a Shark Dive and spend a weekend morning IN the shark tank!
  5. Walk through the Interactive Salt Marsh, located alongside the Peconic River, that represents marine habitats usually found in estuaries. Guided walks through the marsh allow guests to get up close to horseshoe crabs and whelks! Note: the Marsh is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and guests must be 42.5 inches or taller
  1. Watch the koi fish, Japan’s national fish that can live over 50 years, feed in the pond.
  2. Get up close to two North American River otters (Jelly and her son, Stark), who LOVE to swim along the glass walls of their pools and dive down the nine foot waterfall.
  3. Search for the Japanese Snow Monkeys (who love to hide up top) and various pythons, green Aracari, and tegus in the Reptile Ruins exhibit. 
  4. Attend a California sea lion show in the Sea Lion Coliseum. Learn how the sea lions are trained to learn many cues. Shows typically run 20 minutes.
  5. Learn about how the aquarium rescues sea life in the NY Marine Rescue Center.

Bonus: Climb to the top of the 40 foot, 5 level Eye Opener gym. Note: An additional fee applies.

Looking for fun at other aquariums? Check out our index here. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Disclosure: My family was given a media pass to explore the Long Island Aquarium; all opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. What a wonderful and thorough explanation of a fun place for families to explore the beauty and interesting world of sea creatures! Such a unique theme for children – recreating the lost city of Atlantis! The pictures are amazing! It is time to take another trip through Long Island!

  2. This is a great guide! My kids love the aquarium and I’m sure we will be visiting soon as we’re always up at Long Island visiting friends and family. I love that it’s free on birthdays. We will be sure to plan a visit on one of our birthdays. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. thanks! It is a great spot..make sure you check the daily schedule of animal encounters and shows- so fun!

  3. I never realized Long Island even had an Aquarium! This looks like such a fun day for all ages. I love that the Aquarium participates in rescue efforts too! It’s truly so important for area sea life.

  4. The Long Island Aquarium looks like a ton of fun for all ages! I would love to see the adorable river otters (one of my favorite animals) and also the koi fish!

  5. How fun! I love your list of ways to enjoy the aquarium too. Looks like a great day out for your family!

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