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Looking for a family-friendly day out? The National Aquarium in the Inner Harbor of downtown Baltimore is ranked as one of the top three aquariums in the country. Serving as a non-profit aquarium that is open to the public, it opened back in 1981 and has been the largest paid tourist attraction in the state of Maryland. Here you can get up close to around 20,000 marine animals, including fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
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Boasting a striking and colorful appearance on the outside, the Aquarium sits right on the edge of the Inner Harbor. Enjoy the outdoors by walking around the picturesque harbor, then take a boat cruise or even hop into a paddleboat for a ride to see the harbor from a different perspective.
Once you step inside, there’s an entire new world to explore with thousands of animals living in unique habitats. There’s the Atlantic Reef with a massive exhibit that contains over 500 species of fish that swim all around you, a jellyfish exhibit with nine different species of jellies and Dolphin Discovery where you can learn all about dolphins and their relationships with their caretakers. Don’t miss Shark Alley, a thrilling 225,000-gallon exhibit that surrounds visitors with swimming sharks on all sides.
There’s also the Aquarium’s most interactive exhibit, the Living Seashore, which features a variety of hands-on experiences and touch pools where you can see horseshoe crabs and moon jellies up close. One of the best exhibits to check out at the Aquarium is the Tropical Rainforest, a world-renowned exhibit that features a wide variety of plants, animals, birds and reptiles in a rainforest environment that you can walk through.
For a closer look at the Aquarium, there are a variety of specialty tours you can take that highlight animal care, offer dolphin encounters and diving, and a young explorer tour. There are even several overnight programs like the Dolphin Sleepover and the Ocean Predator Overnight.
During your visit to the Aquarium, make sure to check out their 4-D Immersion Theater, where they show captivating movies with incredible 3-D and special effects, like Being Dolphin and Shark: a 4D Experience.
There are also several on-site dining options to choose from when hunger strikes, all of which use seasonal ingredients, sustainable seafood and humanely raised, antibiotic-free chicken and grass-fed beef. Before you leave, you’ll also want to stop in at one of the three on-site gift shops, which include the 5,000 square foot main Aquarium Shop and separate Dolphin Shop and Shark Shop.