Winter break is almost here and that means kids at home, not at school… four days in a row. And it’s going to be cold and probably raining. Now when the walls around you start to close in and it’s too early for a glass of wine… relax.  Portland’s newest and most lurid attraction opens just in time! This is the perfect place to get the kids out and calm your holiday nerves.

The Portland Aquarium opens December 15th with exhibits that will take-you-away faster than any brand of bubble bath. Maybe it’s the way fish move so effortlessly through water, the way the light is filtered by all the glass, or the way usually rambunctious children are strangely mesmerized. Whatever it is, it works!

What You’ll Love:
Stingrays and sharks are awesome. But feeding them from your hand is even more exciting than seeing them. More awesome? Shark eggs that look like seaweed, dancing jellyfish and Lorakeets landing on your kid’s head! Little ones can even find Nemo.

Over the next few years, Portland kids can watch sharks and a Pacific Octopus growing up, as well as Puffin families making their homes on ledges in the Puffin exhibit. Something about these exhibits reminds us of a Battlestar Galactica set from the 70s, in a very good way!

It’s not all marine-science and biology. Kids can exorcise pent up gray-season energy in the multi-level play structure next to the Lorakeets. (See the first INSIDER TIP below!)

In the Works:
The aquarium has plans to expand exhibits and acquire license for food and beverage service in the café.  We hope this means local microbrew on draft and refreshing champagne cocktails. Special events will be held and behind the scenes tours.

Good To Know Before Visiting:
Kids are going to be VERY excited by every fin flip. To fully realize the calming effect of languid sea creatures swimming around you parents, wear headphones or earplugs.

Leave the stroller outside. It’s just going to get in the way and this place is small enough to get through without it. (At least, if you must stroller, go low profile.)

Expect kids to get a little wet. Wear short-sleeved clothing and carry your own hand towel.

Once you go, your kids are going to beg to go again, so buy your membership now at 25% off before prices go up. This will also get you in five days before the grand opening for a members sneak peak.

Plan at least a 3-hour window. It would be easy to spend a day here and the nine-mile drive from Portland proper down Highway 99 takes almost 30 minutes depending on traffic.

Check It Out and Then Check Back:
Not all exhibits were complete at the time of our visit. Check it out and let us know what you think. We’ll check back in a few months to see how things are shaping up and let you know what’s new.

Get Directions from wherever you are right here.

Portland Aquarium
16323 S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard
Milwaukie, Or 97267
Online: portlandaquarium.net

Are you planning to check out the new Portland aquarium? If you’ve already been, share some of your tips and tricks for a fun trip with your kids to this awesome destination. 

Written and photos taken by: Amber Dennis