New England Aquarium
1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
Summer: Everyday 9am-6pm; Fall/Winter Mon-Fri 9am-5pm Sat-Sun 9am-6pm
fun-paid-activities, indoor-activities, museums, local-highlights
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The New England Aquarium is a great activity situated right at Boston Harbor.
When you first arrive, you are greeted by some seals. You can also watch the whale watch boats and harbor island ferry boats arrive and depart.
The aquarium has a few different areas. When you first enter the aquarium, there is a room to the left with a touch tank. Here you’ll find stingrays and small sharks, and visitors can reach in and touch them. The first level has an enclosed, sunken area with a penguin exhibit. The aquarium’s main feature is a huge cylindrical tank in the center of the building. It spans three stories and is filled with a coral reef ecosystem. The main pathway through the museum encircles this tank. As you follow this pathway, there are smaller tanks featuring other sea creatures placed on the exterior wall of the building. Out in the back, there is an outdoor area with seals and sea lions.
There are large restrooms and paid lockers at the building entrance. There is a cafe on the second floor where you can purchase snacks or lunch, or sit at a table and eat a packed lunch. Outside of the cafe are two family restrooms with changing tables.
The New England Aquarium is designed for families. All of the enclosed lower exhibits have sections of wall that are replaced by the glass to allow for viewing by shorter people. For tanks placed higher up, there are bars and handles to step up on for a closer look. There is an elevator, but the center tank is also surrounded by a ramp, which makes strollers easy to use.
There are a few things to anticipate if you’re visiting with young children. The aquarium is relatively dark inside to recreate underwater conditions for the sea creatures there. And because the central tank is circular, you cannot see too far along the path in front of you. For these reasons, I brought a stroller for my older toddler to prevent her from going too far out of my sight.
There is an IMax theater attached to the aquarium, and you can also purchase whale watching tickets from the aquarium ticket booth.