- Mon: 9am-5pm
- Tue: 9am-5pm
- Wed: 9am-5pm
- Thu: 9am-5pm
- Fri: 9am-5pm
- Sat: 9am-6pm
- Sun: 9am-6pm
Boston's New England Aquarium is one of the premier aquariums in the nation, and it is one of the first to focus on housing marine life in environments which mimic their natural habitats as closely as possible. Spend a few hours wandering, watch the penguins play, see the sea lions swim, meet Myrtle the turtle, and check out an IMAX movie or go on a whale watch. Check the aquarium's website or grab a schedule when you get there to see when your favorite animals are being trained or fed. For those with more money to spend, you can even get behind-the-scenes tours, feed Myrtle, paint with the Harbor Seals, or meet and feed the sea lions or seals.
Best and worst time to go to the New England Aquarium
As with most family-friendly destinations, days that children are not in school tend to be more crowded. Weekends and rainy days get packed. Absolutely get there early to try to beat the crowds, and go to busy spots first, like the touch tanks or the top of the giant ocean tank.
Must see/do at the New England Aquarium
Walk the ramp that spirals around the four story ocean tank and follow the hammerhead sharks, barracudas, sea turtles, goatfish, trumpetfish, and hundreds of other animals as they swim round and round, up and down. Try to spot the bright green moray eels hiding in coral and rocks, and be sure to look for the tank's rock star, Myrtle the turtle, a huge green sea turtle who many Bostonians will remember from their own school field trips to the aquarium as far back as 1970.
Another gem of the aquarium is its penguin exhibit on the first level, which features three different species of amiable penguins, including the tiny blue penguins.
Kids will love both hands-on areas of the aquarium. The Edge of the Sea touch tank offers sea urchins, starfish, and horseshoe crabs for petting and holding, while the Shark and Ray Touch Tank allows the more daring to caress these swimmers as they pass. Prepare to wait some time for a good spot if it's crowded, and don't be too surprised if you're splashed by a saucy ray or two.
Look for the seadragons on the aquarium's second level. They're probably the coolest things you'll see all day.
The aquarium provides a daily schedule (available online as well) that specifies times of different animal feedings and training sessions, tank divings and talks, and other presentations, so you can play your visit accordingly.
Admission to the New England Aquarium
Admission is nearly $30 per adult with slight discounts for seniors and more significant discounts for children aged three to eleven. Children under three are free. Teachers and college students also get discounts. Combo tickets that include IMAX movie admission or a whale watch are a fantastic value. By a Timed Ticket ahead of time in person or online to bypass the ticket line entirely.
Parking at the New England Aquarium
Parking can be a pain and/or pricey, so consider parking at a T station near you and taking public transportation in. If you do drive all the way in, the closest garage is the Boston Harbor Garage; there are discounted rates for aquarium members, IMAX watchers, and whale watchers. There are also garages at Rowes Wharf and 75 State Street (with an entrance at 5 Broad Street) and at Post Office Square and International Place. You can reserve a spot ahead of time at a discount at some of these garages using GottaPark.com, saving money and hassle. The aquarium's website provides a grid with parking options and prices.
Public Transportation to the New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium has its own T stop on the Blue Line, called Aquarium. If it's a nice day, go to a nearby stop and do some walking; the waterfront is a gorgeous area for a walk.
Food at the New England Aquarium
Inside, try the Harbor View Cafe, with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing a great view of Boston's skyline and harbor and reasonably priced options including burgers, pizzas, salads, and of course, seafood. Outside, have a cocktail and a sandwich or a snack at The Reef, a super spot to sit an enjoy the sea breeze. There are tons of dining options on the waterfront to try. Get world-famous clam chowder and a lobstah at the Legal Seafoods just steps away from the aquarium. Or walk a little further to Quincy Market or Faneuil Hall for even more dining options for all tastes and budgets. For an especially fun time, try Dick's Last Resort if you don't mind food served in buckets, sassy waitstaff, and a lot of laughs.
Insider tip for visitors to the New England Aquarium
Waiting in line just to buy tickets for the aquarium can take ages. What's more, you have to wait in line outside, and if you're going to the aquarium because it's a rainy or cold day, you might be dismayed to see this long line. Buy a Timed Ticket ahead of time in person or online to become a VIP and bypass the ticket line entirely. If you haven't done that, you can actually watch the Atlantic Harbor Seals swim and play from outside the aquarium, so have someone wait in line for tickets while someone else takes the kids and everyone will be happier (except the person waiting in line, so volunteer to take the kids to see the seals and be a hero for coming up with this brilliant idea).
Author's bio: Deborah Jarvis is a freelance writer who grew up and currently lives in the Greater Boston Area. She never pahks her cah in Hahvahd Yahd and tries not to drive like she's from Boston if she can help it. She remembers visiting the New England Aquarium as a kid and was always startled to see a huge fish in the giant ocean tank before realizing it was a SCUBA diver.