There are already 15,000 reasons to visit this awesome NJ aquarium–namely the 15,000 sea creatures that live inside the Camden water tanks. And now the Adventure Aquarium has been named the No. 1 aquarium in the Northeast, and No. 4 in the U.S., by USA Today.
Adventure Aquarium was one of 20 nominated for USA Today’s 10 Best Aquariums contest, which is part of the publication’s overall 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards.
Adventure Aquarium houses one of the largest shark collections in the Northeast (look for Anchor, a great hammerhead shark), has one of the only Little Blue penguin colonies in the country (see if you can find the newest baby chick), is home to a colony of endangered African penguins, and is the only aquarium in the world to feature a hippo exhibit (Button and Genny are fan faves!).
There’s also an awesome Shark Bridge and Shark Tunnel that allow the Shark Tank to be seen from above and below as you walk through a ropes course. The aquarium’s interactive KidZone is great for families with young children, and the Sea Turtle Cove, which highlights endangered species of sea turtles from around the globe, will turn all your little ones into animal advocates.
The aquarium also holds special events throughout the year. If your child needs certain accommodations, bring them by on a sensory night. During the holidays, Scuba Santa trades in his reindeer for sharks, hanging out at the largest underwater Christmas tree. And the Scuba Tooth Fairy uses her skills to find shark teeth in the tanks.
Next up on the calendar is the Super-Sized Sand Sculptures Festival, where a live sculptor will transform 65 tons of sand into five larger-than-life replicas of some of the beloved animals. You can watch Matt Long live and in person during the first week, but the displays will be visible from March 23 to April 16.
NJ has other cool aquariums, too. Jenkinson’s Aquarium is just steps from the beach and boardwalk in Pt. Pleasant. There are exhibits of Atlantic sharks, penguins, seals and coral reefs. Experience the Rainforest and Pacific Ocean inside exhibits, or bring the kids to Scoop on Sloths or Marine Mammal Mania.
American Dream is the site for SEALIFE Aquarium, where you come face-to-face with over 3,000 sea creatures. There’s lots of beauty at City Under the Sea (complete with “fishified” Manhattan landmarks) or the tropical oasis in the Urban Jungle. Bring the fam on a behind-the-scenes tour or get their hands wet in the Tiny Giants Touchpool. Also worth seeing are the New York Ballet-inspired seahorse mangroves.
If you’re up for a drive, the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn is known for its immersive, interactive experiences. The Ocean Wonders: Shark! exhibit holds over 500,000 gallons of water and allows you to get within nine inches of about a hundred marine species, including 18 species of sharks. Other attractions include the “spineless” vertebrae exhibit, the Conservation Hall, and the Aquatheater, where sea lions show off their learned behaviors with the help of trainers at interactive shows. Sit down for a movie in the 4-D Theater or feed the sea otters.
Connecticut is home to two popular aquariums. In Norwalk, The Maritime Aquarium features a variety of species from the Long Island Sound area, among them the harbor seal, green sea turtle and lion’s mane jelly; as well as those from beyond the region, such as Japanese sea nettles, poison dart frogs and meerkats. While there, check out a public or private cruise via the facility’s 64-foot catamaran.
At the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, family-friendly entertainment is combined with important conservation and rescue work–the Animal Rescue Clinic and its Animal Rescue Team rehabilitate injured animals and prepare them for release. Make sure you look at all the beluga whales, seals, sea lions and penguins–and you can actually touch a (non-threatening) shark in the touch tank.
At the National Aquarium in Baltimore, 800 animal species and 20,000 animals live inside, from zebra sharks to jellyfish to birds like the scarlet ibis. Sign up the kids for extra attractions such as the Shark Catwalk Experience, Dolphin Training Session, Dolphin Tour, Private Reptile Encounter, and 4-D Film.