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Enjoy Underwater Life With Your Tadpole at the New England Aquarium

Sometimes we forget that the earth is over 70% water and that a full 15% of all living creatures call the ocean home. But the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts, has not forgotten, and once you visit, you’ll never look at marine life the same way again.

The New England Aquarium hosts thousands of animals, from the leafy seadragon to tuxedo-clad penguins from across the globe, all residing in painstakingly constructed environments closely resembling their natural habitats. You and your family will be astounded by the sheer variety of aquatic life that rely on the ocean for survival. The New England Aquarium does a terrific job of educating guests about the risks to our oceans’ denizens stemming from climate change. Prepare to be amazed and enlightened!


New England Aquarium Exhibits

The sprawling New England Aquarium covers over 75,000 square feet containing 15 exhibits and a massive IMAX theater. That’s a lot of ground to cover in one visit, so read on to learn more about the exhibits and you’ll be able to make a beeline for your favorites upon arriving.

  • Indo-Pacific Coral Reef: Admire dazzling shoals of fish as they shimmer and glide through a 9,000-gallon tank that represents the "rainforest" of the sea.
  • Science of Sharks: Smaller sharks need love too! Don’t miss the New England Aquarium’s ode to sharks measuring four feet and under, which comprise the majority of all sharks on earth.
  • Amazon Rainforest: No need to pack a swimsuit or bug spray when you explore this exhibit, which allows you to peek into the natural treasures of the Amazon’s forests and rivers.
  • Atlantic Harbor Seals Exhibit: "Talking" harbor seals are the stars here. Watch them as they swim, play, and relax in an environment that mimics the rocky New England coastal habitat.
  • Blue Planet Action Center: Learn all about the challenges facing the oceans—from climate change to overfishing—in this dynamic and interactive exhibit.
  • Edge of the Sea Touch Tank: Reach out and touch a starfish or a snail in a giant tidepool. It’s the perfect opportunity for smaller kids to get their hands a bit wet.
  • Giant Ocean Tank: Marvel at this four-story behemoth containing 200,000 gallons of water and countless tropical marine creatures, including Myrtle the green sea turtle — who has been at the New England Aquarium since 1970!
  • Gulf of Maine: Six exhibits feature the varied sea life that haunt the ice-cold waters off the coast of New England from Boston to Canada.
  • New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center: Northern fur seals and California sea lions joyously frolic in the water and play with trainers in this open-air spectacle.
  • Olympic Coast Exhibit: This exhibit pays homage to the thousands of species living on the Pacific Northwest Coast, including sea cucumbers, anemones, hermit crabs, sea stars, snails, and even the giant Pacific octopus.
  • Penguin Exhibit: Over 60 African penguins and rockhoppers trundle around their habitat replica, which also functions as a certified penguin breeding ground.
  • Seadragon Exhibit: If you’ve never seen a seadragon, you’re in for a treat: this exhibit proudly displays the only two species on earth, both of which are expert camouflage artists. Challenge yourself to count as many as you can find!
  • Sea Jellies: Gelatinous and transparent, sea jellies are masters of survival. Watch their hypnotic undulations as they slowly glide through the water.
  • Shark and Ray Touch Tank: Visitors can lean in to feel harmless epaulette sharks and cownose and Atlantic rays in a mangrove-dotted tank.
  • Yawkey Coral Reef Center: The closest you’ll get to snorkeling and scuba diving without getting wet, the Yawkey Coral Reef Center’s 24-foot-tall tank is jam-packed with biodiverse sea life.
  • Simon’s IMAX® Theatre: Feel like you’re inside the movie while watching it on New England’s largest screen.
  • Animal Encounters: Get up close and personal with harbor seals or the famous Myrtle the turtle with an add-on excursion that takes you behind the scenes of the aquarium.

New England Aquarium Tickets

You can buy tickets for the New England Aquarium online through the official site or in person when you arrive. (Note that tickets for Animal Encounters and IMAX movies are not included with New England Aquarium admission and are a separate purchase.) Ticket prices for the New England Aquarium are available on the website.

New England Aquarium Discounts

There are a few different ways to get New England Aquarium discounts:

  • College students are eligible for discounted admission and discounted tickets at the iMAX theater (don’t forget your student ID!)
  • Active duty and U.S. military veterans receive discounted admission.
  • Local teachers and school administrators can receive free admission.

You can also score discounts to the New England Aquarium with Boston CityPASS. Not only will you swing discounted admission to the New England Aquarium, but you’ll also save off regular prices for other top Boston attractions, including the Museum of Science, the Skywalk Observatory, and Boston Harbor Cruises.


Tips for Visiting the New England Aquarium

This tourist hotspot has been thrilling guests since 1969 and hosts over one million visitors per year. This can make for some serious crowds, especially during peak periods like weekends and the middle of the day on weekdays. However, note that once you have a ticket for admission, you are free to leave and return as many times as you want that day. For a crowd-free experience, arrive when the aquarium opens, leave for lunch, then return for an afternoon of fun!

New England Aquarium Parking

Parking for the New England Aquarium is available at local garages (the aquarium does not have its own lot), but visitors are urged to take public transportation as the lots fill up quickly.

How Long Does it Take to See the New England Aquarium

While the timing can vary based on how many exhibits you want to see, it takes about two hours to see everything the New England Aquarium has to offer. Remember to factor in additional time to see an iMAX movie!

A visit to the New England Aquarium is a memorable experience for all visitors, young and old. The stunning colors and diversity of marine life will keep you and your family enthralled for hours meandering from exhibit to exhibit. Whether you’re a Boston native or a tourist, make sure you take the time to appreciate the majesty of the creatures of the sea.


Visit the New England Aquarium for Less With CityPASS

With Boston CityPASS, you can save up to on admission to the New England Aquarium and Boston’s most famous attractions. Take your pick from must-see attractions including the Museum of Natural History and the Skywalk Observatory. With Boston CityPASS, you don’t need to worry about missing Boston’s beautiful views, amazing animals, or fascinating sea creatures. Grab yours today and get ready for a trip you will never forget!

Header image © W. Chappell 2013