The New England Aquarium can be an overwhelming experience, and a bit difficult to navigate, especially with the spiral walkway that dominates the center of the building. A little advanced planning can ensure that you’ll get the most out of your experience.
Upon entering the aquarium, you can purchase tickets outside (members can skip the line and go inside). Start out at the Shark and Ray touch tank – the newest exhibit. To get the best experience, prepare your kids in advance for the tank – they’ll need to hold their hands steady and be super-quiet to touch the rays.
Then, enter the main section of the aquarium, where you can see the popular penguin exhibit (my kids’ favorite). Stick around for a while, and you may even see the penguin feeding time. Once you finish with the penguins, you’ll enter the spiral area of the aquarium, where you’ll see the giant ocean tank. My kids love standing in one of the sections, just watching what goes by (highlights include a giant turtle and a shark). Go to the top of the tank to see the divers entering the tank – something my kids enjoy watching.
The exhibits along the outside of the spiral are of minimal interest to my kids – but they do love the Edge of the Sea exhibit, where they can touch starfish and other little creatures. Another favorite is the Marine Mammal Center, where you can see seals and sea lions, and maybe even catch some training.
If time permits, check out a movie at the Simons IMAX Theater, which generally features ocean-themed movies on the huge screen.