Since its opening in 1981, the National Aquarium has been one of the major sights at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Its striking modern architecture of a pyramidal roof, colorful rectangles and cylindrical sections are not what you may think an aquarium would look like, but once inside there is no doubt that the aquarium is all that you hoped it would be and more.
Visited only once until this trip at the end of June (2009), the aquarium much larger now. It is divided into pier pavilions, each housing unique ecosystems such as "Animal Planet Australia," "Atlantic Coral Reef," "Upland Tropical Rain Forest," etc. We saw waterfalls, sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, dolphins, native Atlantic fish, birds, crocodiles, turtles--the list is endless.
Pier 4 Pavilion houses the large amphitheater where the Dolphin Show is performed and where you're likely to get splashed if you sit in the lower seating rows!! The 4-D Immersion Theater is located in the Glass Pavilion, also home to Animal Planet Australia. Both of these special attractions were included on our timed ticket, and we made sure we were at the designated spot for our pre-scheduled time to see both of these shows. The 4-D Immersion Show was a movie in 4-D as the name suggests---you experienced sights, sounds, smells and touch while watching a fascinating film about wildlife---was extremely well done and worth the time. Also while in Pavilion 4, take a minute to see "Jellies Invasion:Oceans Out of Balance." The upside-down jellyfish were little luminous beings I had not seen before.
It is worth spending at least 2 hours in the aquarium (maybe more). For the tired and hungry, each pavilion has a cafe of its own, and a souvenir shop relating to the ecosystem on display in that pavilion. Some of the souvenirs are actually for grown-ups and are artistic.
Because we had a group ticket which included admission to the Aquarium, Dolphin Show, 4-D Theater and our transportation to Baltimore for $25 (2009 price), it was an amazingly good bargain for us.
UPDATE: 2016 Tickets prices are now $39.95 for a basic adult ticket (ages 12 - 64) with no add-ons; seniors 65+ get a $5 discount; $24.95 children (ages 3 - 11); children under 3 years of age are FREE. Buying tickets online is highly recommended!!
As of August, 2009, prices are:
Adult - ages 12 - 59, Aquarium only: $24.95; ticket with extras: $29.95
Senior - ages 60+ Aquarium only: $23.95; ticket with extras: $28.95
Child - ages 3-11 Aquarium only $14.95; ticket with extras: $19.95
Hours can change by season or month. Check website for correct opening hours.
February 2016 Hours:
Mon–Thu 10 am–4 pm
Fri 10 am–8 pm
Sat–Sun 10 am–5 pm
My favorite aquarium! A must see! I've been here a few times and absolutely love it! It's a huge aquarium with so much to see and do! Don't miss the dolphin show! The care the animals get is above and beyond exceptional and it shows. It is pricey but it all goes back into the exhibits and animals. Plus it is so relaxing to just watch the sharks.
There's many great aquariums around the world, but this is the "National" aquarium and located at the very scenic and fun Inner Harbor in Baltimore. There are some really great and large exhibits inside and it is a leader in the study, and teaching of aquatic, marine and mammal life. Being that I live in Baltimore and have been there many times, I've grown slightly bored of it, but when I've taken out of town friends and family there, they always had a great time. Admission has gotten a bit pricey over the years, and food inside is on the expensive side as well, but with so many dining choices just outside its doors, you don't need to eat inside if you don't want to. If you're looking to save a few bucks, look for Friday evening deals and some deals later in the evening time, a few hours before it closes. They offer significant discounts then. It is well worth a visit!
We spent 5 hours in this place to see just about all that it had to offer.
There are many exhibits and rooms. They have a live dolphin show. Be careful of sitting in the first few rows because you might get splashed. and of course the optional 4D movie which you pay extra for. It is similar to disney land.
All areas are handicap accessible.
This is an awesome aquarium, and we've been to many. The 30 minute dolphin show is well worth the extra $3 admission. Divers were hand-feeding rays and a sea turtle. The jellyfish exhibit is amazing, and we really enjoyed the Australian exhibit, we've never viewed those types of animals in other aquariums. Strollers are not allowed inside for safety reasons, which is nice for people like me who get tired of dodging them but not so nice for people with small children. There are 2 places to grab a snack or a meal. We went on a Saturday and it was busy, but a very nice place to visit.
The National Aquarium is arguably the city's top tourism draw - for kids and the young at heart - at least. Housed in a futuristic buildings across two piers at the Inner Harbor, it is regarded as one of the finest aquariums in the United States, with over 16,500 species on display.
Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to visit the aquarium, perhaps conscious of the expectation that I'll be coming back to Baltimore soon. But if you are not a frequent visitor to the city, you should grab any chance to see the aquarium.
Don't be mis-led by the name "National" aquarium. It's not like the other free national museums in the DC area. This was costs a lot of money and time. Advertised internet price was different from actual price. Their website suggested we could actually pet the sting rays. They did not allow this. My daughter was very disappointed. We stood in a long long line for over an hour on a hot sweltering day prior to entering. Once inside, I got very claustrophobic in the narrowly laid out slow moving line that only went one way. Not a pleasant experience. One half of the short (less than 30 min.) dolphin show was watching them on a large tv. Overall, a very disappointing and over priced experience.
My girlfriend and her 2 girls and I went to this in the spring and had a blast---especially photographically wise.....Some of what I loved---the seals (check out the blind one in the photo!) the jellyfish (ooohh) and the penguins. It may seem crazy, but I just don't like dolphin shows---probably wouldn't like monkey shows or whale shows either.....just doesn't seem right, but who's to say that jellyfish shouldn't be treated the same way? I do not have the answer, but in any event, this is a cool place to visit for anyone, especially kids.
Dollar Days is a special rate weekend at the National Aquarium. They do this every year during the first weekend in December and its open to everyone. It is on a first come first served basis so come early, be prepared to be in line and yes its cold at that Baltimore harbor this time of year. Entrance is $1usd per person for general admission ( much lower then the normal $29.95 per adult and $19.95 per child) and $5usd for admission plus the 4D theater showing. The Dolphin show is closed but you can still see them in the normal viewing area. I suggest the $5 package because you get the same access as the $1 plus the movie and its included in the price. Also they have Dollar day discounts at the cafes inside so if the weather is bad you dont have to leave to eat for a lunch or dinner break. But being in the Inner Harbor you can plan to eat before or after. Just remember on Dollar Days they do not allow reentry, but once you are in you can stay as long as you like. Its truely Wonderful and no matter your age you will not regret your Dollar Day visit to the National Aquarium in Baltimore!
This is a really cool aquarium. I must say they did such a wonderful job in how they display so many species of fish. The have a great Dolphin Show and a tropical rainforest that you can walk through. It does take some time to go through it, but everyone will enjoy it.
The National Aquarium do not allow strollers making it impossible to bring small children.
My three year old daughter could not wait to see the aquarium, however it was much to large for her to walk for 4 to 5 hours to see it all. The bathrooms are poorly marked, so she wet herself before we found one.
I had to carry my 25 pound 9 month old (she’s very tall) around for those 5 hours.
They rent germ ridden backpacks which are coming apart and look unsafe - and filthy looking front carriers which my child is to large to carry.
They use escalators and moving sidewalks which are unsafe for toddlers, the elderly and mothers carrying heavy loads. I almost fell down the escalator trying to assist my toddler, carry my baby and a diaper bag.
The aquarium does offer lockers, but a baby needs to be feed on demand. The lockers are on the first floor and until you reach the TOP of the aquarium there is no way to get back to the first floor. And God forbid you try and use an elevator those are only for people in wheelchairs, not for people like my mother in law how is scared to death of escalators or children in wet pants. The other children with us ranger from 5 – 10 years old also had medication that needed to be taken, items that they had purchased on the lower level, that they had to carry, which could have easily fit in the bottom of the stroller but served to make the day more difficult and less enjoyable for everyone.
If you ever visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, do it when your children are teenagers – it is NOT kid friendly.
On Friday evening I went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I went there a few years ago also, but remember it being bigger and better for some reason. Maybe it's just awesome the first time you go. I was a little disappointed with it this time around. We made it through the whole of it in an hour and a half. To annoy me more, if I would've gone just an hour later at 1700, I could've saved about $10 in parking, and $13 off the entrance (normal tickets are like $22). I think the aquarium is open late only on Fridays tho, so if you are planning a trip. Go after 5 on Fridays. Oh, and don't forget to print out your parking coupon online.