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National Aquarium – Baltimore, MD

The largest tourism attraction in the State of Maryland

Located in the vibrant Inner Harbor of Baltimore, the National Aquarium is a regional center of marine conservation and education. With its iconic architecture and diverse exhibits, it offers visitors a captivating journey into the world of aquatic life. Whether you’re a marine enthusiast, a family seeking adventure, or a curious traveler, the National Aquarium promises an enriching experience.

National Aquarium History and Mission

Founded in 1981, the National Aquarium has evolved from a local attraction to a renowned institution dedicated to marine conservation and education. Its mission focuses on inspiring conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures through engaging exhibits, conservation initiatives, and educational programs.

Architectural Marvels

The Aquarium’s striking design blends seamlessly with the harbor landscape, featuring modern glass structures that provide stunning views of the waterfront. Its innovative architecture enhances the visitor experience by integrating natural light and spacious galleries.

National Aquarium | Baltimore, Maryland | I-95 Exit Guide
National Aquarium | Baltimore, Maryland | Courtesy of the National Aquarium

National Aquarium Exhibits and Attractions

Atlantic Coral Reef

  • Experience the underwater world without getting wet! Imagine being surrounded by hundreds of tropical fish as you explore every level of this recreated Atlantic reef. Picture yourself descending while schools of surgeonfish glide by, and spot graysby groupers and a mysterious green moray eel peeking out from hidden caves. Dive below the surface where sand tilefish are busy building gravel burrows, and watch jackknife fish meticulously sifting through tiny pebbles for any tasty morsels left behind.

Amazon River Forest

  • Explore the Amazon River Forest as it transforms during seasonal flooding! Picture an Amazon tributary overflowing its banks, with water rising 10 to 40 vertical feet, creating a special habitat for a diverse array of animals. Encounter turtles, dwarf caimans, catfish, stingrays, and more thriving in this unique environment.
National Aquarium | Baltimore, Maryland | I-95 Exit GUide
Amazon River Rainforest | Courtesy of the National Aquarium

Animal Care and Rescue Center

  • Visitors to the ACRC can now see our animal care in action like never before. With large windows and an overlook gallery, everyone from tour groups to students can witness our dedicated work up close. The ACRC also features top-notch equipment that produces 15,000 gallons of saltwater monthly. Seal rehab happens right here, while rescued sea turtles receive care behind the scenes at our main Aquarium.

Australia: Wild Extremes

  • Step into this incredible exhibit where you’ll encounter nearly 1,000 animals from over 70 unique species native to Australia. Get up close with turtles, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, free-flying birds, and more as you explore this stunning recreation of an Australian river gorge.

Blacktip Reef

  • Dive into the captivating Blacktip Reef, a celebrated exhibit nestled in the heart of the National Aquarium. You can explore this vibrant Indo-Pacific reef from various angles, including an awe-inspiring underwater viewing area. Watch sleek blacktip reef sharks slice through the water, rays glide gracefully, and colorful fish dart playfully among the coral branches. It’s a bustling aquatic world waiting to be discovered!
National Aquarium | Baltimore, Maryland | I-95 Exit Guide
Zebra Shark at Blacktip Reef | Courtesy of the National Aquarium

Harbor Wetland

  • Opening in 2024, the National Aquarium Harbor Wetland presented by CFG Bank offers a new outdoor experience right between Piers 3 and 4 at our Baltimore Inner Harbor campus.

Jellies Invasion

  • Jellies Invasion showcases a mesmerizing array of jellyfish, from the graceful Pacific sea nettle to the stout blue blubber. These fascinating creatures come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, inhabiting oceans worldwide—from coastal waters to the deep sea, and even freshwater environments. Despite their transparent nature, jellies play a significant role in aquatic ecosystems, though recent shifts in their populations, including large swarms and altered habitats, are reshaping marine balance.

Living Seashore

  • Dive into this award-winning exhibit that transports you straight to the mid-Atlantic shore, where crashing waves meet sandy beaches and shifting dunes. Feel the smooth fin of a clearnose skate, the gentle pulse of a moon jelly’s bell, and the sturdy shell of a horseshoe crab as you interact with two touchpools. With the guidance of National Aquarium educators, digital touch tables, and a tactile discovery wall, you’ll gain a whole new appreciation for this special coastal habitat.
National Aquarium | Baltimore, Maryland | I-95 Exit Guide
Living Seashore | Courtesy of the National Aquarium

Maryland: Mountains to the Sea

  • Maryland: Mountains to the Sea invites you to wander through exhibits that highlight water in all its forms across the state. Start at Allegheny Stream, where you can spot camouflaged wood turtles and listen for the croak of bullfrogs. Move on to Chesapeake Marsh, where terrapins and mummichogs play in the brackish waters. Then, journey to Assateague Beach’s barrier islands, where you’ll discover fish nurseries teeming with life before diving out to the Atlantic Shelf to meet massive groupers and black drums.

North Atlantic to the Pacific

  • Take a journey from the rugged cliffs of the Atlantic coast to the vibrant depths of a Pacific coral reef. Begin your adventure among playful puffins and black guillemots on the rocky shores, then dive into the lush world of the kelp forest and mingle with the colorful fish of the Pacific coral reef.
National Aquarium | Baltimore, Maryland | I-95 Exit Guide
Pacific Coral Reef | Courtesy of the National Aquarium

Shark Alley

  • Sharks and their relatives, like skates and rays, have always been wrapped in mystery. For centuries, they’ve been portrayed as ruthless predators, but the truth is far more captivating. Strolling through Shark Alley, you’ll catch glimpses of these ancient creatures gliding effortlessly through the water. Sharks have roamed the oceans for about 450 million years—long before trees appeared in fossil records. With advancing technology, scientists are unraveling more about these fascinating fish, their unique adaptations, and their vital place in the ocean’s delicate balance.

Surviving Through Adaptation

  • In Surviving Through Adaptation, you’ll discover a fascinating array of ways aquatic animals have evolved to thrive. From the lightning-fast strikes of the peacock mantis shrimp to the reef stonefish’s masterful camouflage, each adaptation serves a crucial purpose. Take the blackbar soldierfish, for instance, with its oversized eyes perfect for navigating the dark depths. These adaptations vary widely but are united in their mission: helping these creatures flourish in their natural habitats.

Upland Tropical Rain Forest

  • Step into the Upland Tropical Rain Forest and immerse yourself in a vibrant world where tropical birds soar, poison dart frogs leap, and sloths leisurely hang among lush rainforest foliage. This exhibit brings to life one of Earth’s most biodiverse habitats, offering guests a chance to wander alongside a variety of fascinating animal species.

Waterfront Park

  • Explore the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park, a sprawling 90,000-square-foot urban oasis right at the heart of the National Aquarium and Inner Harbor. This park isn’t just about green spaces—it’s a journey through Maryland’s diverse landscapes, from the ocean and coastal plains to the Chesapeake Bay, Piedmont region, and even the rugged Allegheny Mountains.

Certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation since 2012, the park is more than just beautiful scenery. It’s a sanctuary for local wildlife, providing essential resources like food, water, shelter, and safe havens for raising their young.

Interactive Experiences

Dolphin Discovery

  • Come peek into the daily adventures of our lively colony of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins! Dolphin Discovery, the largest exhibit at the Aquarium, is where these six playful dolphins call home. Whether you’re in the amphitheater or the underwater viewing area, you’ll get front-row seats to witness these smart, fun-loving marine mammals as they learn, play, and engage with each other in their own unique ways.

4D Immersion Theater

  • Enhance your visit with a multisensory experience at the 4D Immersion Theater. Dive into underwater worlds through state-of-the-art technology that combines 3D visuals with sensory effects.

Conservation Initiatives

  • The National Aquarium is committed to marine conservation through initiatives focused on habitat restoration, sustainable seafood practices, and public advocacy. Visitors can participate in conservation programs and learn how individual actions contribute to ocean health.
National Aquarium | Baltimore, Maryland | I-95 Exit Guide
Conservation Work at Masonville Cove | Courtesy of the National Aquarium

Education and Outreach

Educational Programs

School Programs

  • The Aquarium offers engaging programs for students of all ages, connecting classroom learning with hands-on experiences in marine science and conservation.

Public Workshops

  • Attend public workshops and lectures led by marine experts, covering topics such as climate change impacts on marine life and biodiversity conservation.

Community Engagement

Citizen Science Projects

  • Engage in citizen science initiatives that empower the community to collect data and contribute to scientific research on local marine habitats.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Join dedicated volunteers in supporting Aquarium operations, educational activities, and conservation efforts through hands-on participation.

Visitor Information

Address

National Aquarium
2400 East Fort Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
Telephone: (410) 576-3800
Website: https://aqua.org

Hours of Operation

The National Aquarium is open year-round, with varying hours based on seasonal schedules.

Admission

Adults (21-69): $49.95
Youth (5-20): $39.95
Child (4 and under): FREE
Senior (70+): $39.95

Tickets can be purchased online or at the entrance, with discounts available for students, seniors, and military personnel.

Dining and Amenities

Enjoy dining options within the Aquarium, ranging from casual cafes to waterfront restaurants offering panoramic views of the Inner Harbor. Gift shops provide souvenirs and educational materials to commemorate your visit.

Directions

Via I-95 South: Take I-95 South through the Ft. McHenry Tunnel (toll) to exit 53 (I-395 North, Downtown). After exiting follow signs to the Inner Harbor. Take a left on Light Street – the Inner Harbor will be on your right.

Via I-95 north: Take I-95 North to Exit 53 (I-395 North, Downtown). After exiting follow signs to the Inner Harbor. Take a left on Light Street – the Inner Harbor will be on your right.

Planning Your Visit

Accessibility

The Aquarium is accessible to visitors with disabilities, offering wheelchair-accessible facilities, sensory-friendly resources, and accommodations for service animals.

Nearby Attractions

Explore the vibrant Inner Harbor, home to cultural attractions, waterfront promenades, and historic ships such as the USS Constellation and the Historic Ships Museum.

Nearby Lodging

You’ll need a full day to experience all that the National Aquarium has to offer. Why not make it a overnight stay. Excellent accommodation choices are always close by. Click here for a detailed list.

As you begin your journey through the National Aquarium in Baltimore, prepare to be inspired by the wonders of the ocean. From dazzling coral reefs to majestic sharks and interactive exhibits, the Aquarium offers a profound exploration of marine life and conservation efforts. Plan your visit today and discover the magic beneath the waves at this iconic destination.


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