A quick trip into Baltimore can yield a whole new appreciation for life underwater after a stop by the National Aquarium. Here’s how to prepare for the trip, whether taking the entire family or making it a date night.


A quick trip into Baltimore can yield a whole new appreciation for life underwater after a stop by the National Aquarium. Here’s how to prepare for the trip, whether taking the entire family or making it a date night.

1 Making the most of your visit

The least-crowded time to visit during the summer is before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. weekdays, according to Jen Bloomer, media relations manager. If visitors go early enough they can tour the aquarium and make an 11:30 a.m. dolphin show their last stop of the day, or get to the facility after 3 and make the 3:30 p.m. show first on the agenda. “If you’re planning a trip, I would give it a good three hours,” she said. It takes approximately two-and-a-half to three hours to tour the top floor’s rainforest exhibit to the bottom floor’s sharks.

2 Family time vs. date night

If taking kids, leave the strollers in the car. Strollers aren’t allowed inside because of escalators and moving walkways, so Aquarium staff will store strollers and give families a backpack or front child carrier. Being in a carrier allows young kids to get closer to the glass, which they also can do on foot.

“Our exhibits are designed for young kids, and in some of our newest exhibits the glass goes right down to the floor,” Bloomer said. “It’s mesmerizing to the little kids.”

Adults without kids might enjoy an evening at the aquarium instead. Fridays and Saturdays are open until 8 p.m., and the later nights have a more relaxed feeling for couples, Bloomer said.

There are plenty of pricey special activities at the aquarium, too, from diving into the tanks with a professional diver to sleepovers with the dolphins and sharks.

3 4-D fun

The aquarium’s 4-D Immersion Theater combines a 3-D film with sensory effects like wind and mist. Younger kids will get into “Dora & Diego’s 4-D Adventure: Catch that Robot Butterfly!” while older kids and adults might opt for “Planet Earth: From Pole to Pole.”

Shows are approximately 20 minutes. The “Planet Earth” movie is taken from the documentary of the same name.

Admission to movies is $2 more than the admission price to the aquarium and dolphin show.

4 See it all for less

Through Aug. 30, visitors can save a few clams by visiting the website for tickets. Parties of four or more going to the aquarium after 2 p.m. Sunday through Thursday can save $20 off their total order when buying tickets through the website. For more information or to order, visit www.aqua.org, go to visitor information and click on discounts.

5 Upcoming events

Animal Enrichment Day at the aquarium is coming up from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8. It celebrates the facility’s animals by showing guests how the animals play, learn and explore. Special activities and presentations will run throughout the day, and will include a make-and-take activity for kids.

Other notable days include the first Saturday and Sunday of the month, that are special for special needs guests. Special needs visitors can avoid crowds by getting into the facility at 8:30 a.m., giving them a 30-minute head start on the general public. For more information on the program, call Jennifer Hamilton at 410-659-4291 or email jhamilton@aqua.org.

Email Sarika Jagtiani at sarika.jagtiani@doverpost.com.