It’s no deep sea mystery that Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is one of the most popular destinations on the East Coast, with the National Aquarium topping the must-see lists of nearly every visitor. And for good reason—with over 20,000 underwater critters, puffin feedings, a 4D Immersion Theater, and more, the aquarium has something that floats everyone’s boat.
Ready, Set, Go!: The aquarium is smack dab in the middle of the Inner Harbor, so there’s no getting around the fact that nearly every day is buzzing with a crowd. But, don’t let that deter you—if you can, just pack up the kids and visit during the week (Monday-Thursday). Go before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. for the best experience. If your mission is to make it through the whole museum you’ll want to reserve a few hours.
Getting there: You can take the MARC train to the aquarium. For DMV-ers start at Union Station and take either the Camden or Penn line to the Camden Yards or Penn Station MARC train stops respectively. Expect this to be a brisk one hour ride. It’s a one mile walk from the train station to the aquarium; if that’s more than you bargained for, grab a cab for a quick fare. Driving? Expect a 50 minute to one hour trip from D.C. and Northern Virginia.
Parking: While there is lots of street parking around we recommend the convenient parking one block opposite the aquarium at the Lockwood Place Garage. While it is a hefty $20.00 for the 4 hours with the aquarium validation, its worth not worrying about parking tickets or being towed.
What to see: Arrive before 11 a.m. to start the day off right at Blacktip Reef. The animals are just waking up and starting their day too! More of a night owl? A visit after 3 p.m. lets you experience the animals during a less busy time. A bright area can be found at the Dolphin Discovery area where staff works with the dolphins. Leave time to wander around the Jellies Invasion exhibit, a sweet, quiet spot to really enjoy their beauty.
What to skip: If you have smaller kids, they may not be too interested in the guided tours. If you are interested note that they cost extra, and they do sell out quickly.
Possible lunch spots: No outside food, beverages, or gum are permitted. A grab and go cafe and a traditional sandwich and pizza style cafe are located in the building, but there are no sit down and order options available. Our recommendation? Bring a picnic. There are tables and benches (with a view of the harbor!) just outside the Aquarium.
Cost: The cost is definitely an investment for a family. Adults 12-64 are $39.95, children 3-12 are $24.95 and infants under 3 are free. Military discounts are available through base ticket offices.
The fine print on wheels: Are you ready to have your salt water bubble bursted? Strollers are NOT permitted in the aquarium. They do however offer the free use of front or back carriers for families with babies and tots.
501 E. Pratt St. (Baltimore, Md)
Have you been to the National Aquarium? If so, give us your insider secrets on a perfect visit in the comments section below.