Last Friday my husband and I both had the day off so we decided to take a day trip to Baltimore. If you live in central PA you know that this is a quick and convenient trip and well worth it for a change of scenery.
We took E to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. As you can tell, I am always looking for interesting and/or educational activities to entertain my little dude. After some minor drama around our clothing choices we headed out around 8:30 a.m.
I bought tickets online directly from the National Aquarium. The tickets are pricey, $40 for adults and $25 for children, but when you think about what it takes to keep this place up and running it makes sense. I highly recommend getting there early because it makes parking easier and because it is far less crowded.
Upon arrival we walked right in and immediately visited the restroom. (When traveling with a 4 year old this is always a good idea.) Restrooms are conveniently located throughout this place and there are lots of employees in blue shirts to ask if you need directions or help of any kind.
Our timing was lucky and we got the watch the employees feed the black-tipped sharks. We spent at least 15 minutes watching them eat and swim around and my son enjoyed the touch screen information panel. E enjoyed the escalators and touch screens throughout the Aquarium very much. A little too much.
For the most part we stopped and looked at every window. The lighting is pretty dim, so most of the pictures are fuzzy. It was relaxing and even E got into the underwater vibe. “Awesome” was the word of the day.
As we approached the “please touch” area I thought my son would be really into it, but he got a bit freaked out by the stingray and horseshoe crab. He got a little loud saying, “it’s gonna sting me.” The employees were super friendly and they really helped us calm him down. In the end he was persuaded to touch the sea snail. He watched me touch everything else.
We particularly enjoyed the octopus, so much in fact that my son basically had his face on the glass eye-to-eye with her. E learned that she had 9 brains and 3 hearts. (That is what he told me, and what I heard the girl say) We also learned that she has sensitive eyes and cannot tolerate camera flashes. E reluctantly gave up his front row seat for a little girl. I told him that I appreciated his flexibility with this, as the Octopus was a popular attraction.
We looked at tiny colorful frogs, which E told me were, “poison dart frogs.” He was right – I mean entirely correct. I have absolutely no idea how he knew they were poison dart frogs.
We even saw a few alligators. Or were they crocodiles? I’m not sure. But I did like their stealthy style hanging out with just their eyeballs above the water. There were lots of huge sea turtles to watch. Here is a dark picture of E and I looking at them.
He also really enjoyed the sharks. He had been talking about sharks for about a week. We tried to take a few pictures, but it was so dark, and the sharks were so fast we didn’t get much. E also had a good time running from window to window waving at the divers that were in the tank.
At one point we were a little frustrated with him because he was more interested in the escalators and the revolving doors than the sea life. I explained to him that we had to take care of our ocean life so that we can continue to enjoy it. I also told him I was getting frustrated because he was rushing. He calmed down at that point.
The only other ADD moment we had was the red boat right outside the Aquarium. It was an old red boat that you can pay to take tours of. I am not certain of the name. But E really wanted to go on this boat and was perseverating with this wish throughout our time in the Aquarium. My husband told him to forget it, we were not going on the boat – so we had a bit of whining and stomping. Then it was over.
Right before we left we looked in at the dolphins. We also took in the jellyfish exhibit on the way out, which was surprisingly interesting.
On the way home I was hoping E would nap. That didn’t happen, but we did stop at Wegmans for lunch. I did not take pictures of that. 🙂
Overall I think the Aquarium is definitely worth the trip if you have kids. Or even if you don’t. The atmosphere is relaxing, kid friendly, and the staff is knowledgeable about the various exhibits. Watching and learning about ocean life has given us a whole new topic of conversation and study here at home. I hope we can carry it forward – perhaps find some interesting books on the topic.
One note, this is not a cheap day trip. For the 3 of us it was about $105 to get in – so that is for roughly 2 hours of entertainment. Parking was another $17. We opted out of eating there, which would have been more. If you are planning to take a family of 4-5 I would budget yourself at least $200 without food. With food I would budget more.
For more info or to purchase tickets go to: