We’re aquarium junkies. For some reason, my son is fascinated with marine biology . . . or at least sea animals, so we’ve been wanting to visit Baltimore’s National Aquarium for some time. Recently we were invited to experience the Aquarium Package with the Four Seasons and happily accepted. We’ve been looking forward to this trip for months.
The National Aquarium is certainly a sight (and site, ha!) to behold. I liked the way it was organized; there was a definitely traffic flow that made it easy to navigate. You basically wind your way around the building, gradually moving upwards. There was often a staff person on the lower level, sharing interesting facts and information, although she was hard to hear.
We all enjoyed the variety of sea life that was visible throughout the exhibit.
Unfortunately we happened to visit on a day that was incredibly crowded. There were times when I felt claustrophobic and wanted to get the heck outta there. If I were to return, I would research good times to go that aren’t very crowded.
We loved watching the sharks. That was probably our favorite part. We could have watched them for hours.
The Dolphin Discovery was a bit of a disappointment. We were informed by aquarium personnel that there was no set schedule of events, but there was always something fun going on. So we filed into the large auditorium and found seats, while an employee was talking to the crowd. The only thing I picked up was that she asked us to stay seated throughout the exhibit. I thought we were in for a fun show.
The dolphins swam around and dove into the water while aquarium personnel off to one side did something with colorful balls. The dolphins barely seemed to notice, so neither did we. After about 15 minutes (I thought we were waiting for them to fill the auditorium and start “the show”) the girl with the mic thanked us for staying seated while the personnel did their test with the dolphins. We were perplexed. That was IT? Then she said they’d be doing something at 1:00 — which was 25 minutes away, and the exact time that we had purchased tickets for the 4D movie.
So we filed out, and that was that.
Because it was so large, there weren’t the hands-on exhibits that our kids have enjoyed at smaller aquariums, although there was one table where they could hold a shark’s tooth. My girls enjoyed that exhibit and hung out there for a while, talking to the staff person who was very animated and knowledgable.
But we’ve been to aquariums where they got to hold starfish and pet stingrays, so this was a bit of a let down.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to the jellyfish exhibit, which I hear is great.
We saw one of the 4-D films — The Great Salmon Run, and that was really cool. I enjoyed that a lot because I found the story fascinating. My older daughter loved that we got sprayed several times throughout, but my younger daughter hated that. So just to warn you — you will get wet!
Of course we couldn’t leave without a souvenir.
If you have small kids, please note, strollers are not allowed inside the aquarium, but you can check them at the door. I didn’t notice when we were walking through, but now that I have read this in several places, I am so thankful. It was crowded enough; I cannot imagine if I had to navigate strollers.
Afterwards, we enjoyed the waterfront and eventually made our way to Phillips to get our fill of local crabs.
Despite the crowds, we enjoyed our visit the National Aquarium. My son (who is the real reason we went) spent a lot of time gazing at the various exhibits when he could get up close. I would just stand back and wait for him to get his fill. I think perhaps I had some unrealistic expectations because I’ve heard so many great things. I wish I’d read up on the exhibits beforehand so I knew better what I was seeing. I think that would have helped the experience be more valuable.
It was very well organized, and I’d love to go back sometime when it’s not so crowded. If you have tips about when that would be, I’d love to know!