I consider myself to be an aquarium connoisseur. Everywhere we go I try to find an aquarium. In fact, I actually plan vacations around aquarium locations. That’s how much I love them. The point is, when I give you my review of an aquarium, it’s totally legit. And thorough.
I’m getting close to the end of my Baltimore adventure blog posts (for now) and because we’ve been so many times before, we skipped it on our most recent trip so this is a throwback post. Check out how cute D was! When I look back on adventures with only one child (and two of us,) I laugh at my former self for thinking it was tough sometimes to wrangle him. If I’d only known…
Anywho, I thought it would be easiest to cover pros and cons before talking about our favorite exhibits.
It’s a beautiful aquarium. It’s big. It’s clean. The exhibits are super interesting are top notch quality.
They have a room for nursing moms.
There’s a TON to do in the area. Lots of great food, street entertainment in the warmer months, shopping. It’s in an exciting part of town.
Parking is terrible. You have to locate a garage, traverse traffic, and it is expensive added cost to visiting the aquarium.
No strollers. Seriously. You can’t take strollers through the aquarium because of all the escalators and moving walkways, so if you don’t already babywear, now is the time to start. They do rent carriers there but they are the metal framed ones and may not be the comfiest.
It’s $$$. For a family of 4, you’re looking at $130 for tickets. A family membership costs $190, so it’s almost a no brainer to just do that. If you plan on going twice in a year, you will save a good chunk of money.
There are no guardrails by the water outside. If you want to hang out by the inner harbor, make sure you’ve got a good grip on your kids’ hands, or a leash. There is nothing to stop your wild two year old from stepping right off the sidewalk in to the water.
It gets crowded. And by crowded, I mean you have to buy specific entry times IN ADVANCE during the busy season. Tickets do sell out some days and when you’re inside, expect to stand in line to look at anything during those times.
They don’t participate in reciprocal memberships. Many times when I buy memberships to places, the reciprocity program helps defray the overall costs. If I know I can get in to other places for free as well, it makes sense financially to buy the membership but the National Aquarium’s membership only gives you entry in to their facility (as well as a few discounts for parking and the gift shop.)
Traffic in and out of Baltimore. We’ve gotten stuck in some really bad traffic jams that doubled our already long trip home.
Okay so now that the practical part is out of the way, I can talk about my favorite things at the aquarium. I honestly can’t pick just one but my top 3 are the Amazon tank (bottom left of the above collage,) the jellyfish room and the living reef with the 3 flipper turtle. You probably won’t see every exhibit in one visit unless you spend the entire day there. Despite all the cons, there is something magical about this place that draws me in. Kind of like when you “forget” how painful childbirth is and decide to have another baby. If enough time elapses, I “forget” how awful all of the cons were on our last visit and we go again. I have been to aquariums all across the country and the National Aquarium still ranks in my top 5 favorites when I consider the aquarium itself and none of the headaches associated with visiting.