Animals jumping, swimming and playing in the water-- there
is no better entertainment for a family with energetic and curious kids than an
aquarium. Here in the U.S. we are lucky to have some world-class aquariums, but
don’t let the big ones distract you. Although the larger and more well-known
aquariums are impressive, smaller aquariums can be just as fun, if not more so
since you can actually see everything in a day, and not rush around trying to
cram it all in.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Get a look of the giant pacific Octopus, a complex creature
with one of the most sophisticated camouflage systems in the animal kingdom,
and an animal that likes to call this California aquarium home. Take a look
beneath the surface of Monterey Bay where sharks and sturgeon glide past
200-pound sea bass. Printables are available on the aquarium’s website to
prepare your kids for their aquatic adventure or fill out during your visit.
Mom and dad keep an eye out for sea lemons, acorn barnacles and other
underwater oddities that will make your kids giggle and open up a new
conversation about what else can live beneath the sea.
John G. Shedd Aquarium
Chicago’s aquarium is no joke. It is big and is meant to
impress. After a major renovation in the last decade, this aquarium is set up
to wow families even more. Watch the dolphin show, peek at the stingrays and
say hello to a few beluga whales. Don’t miss the adorable penguins and the tiny
monkeys that call Chicago their home these days, or a look at what lurks
beneath Lake Michigan. There are 32,000 animals to gaze at, which may take more
than a day, but you can certainly hit the highlights.
Anyone who has been to Virginia Beach has been to the
Virginia Aquarium. This out of the way spot is home to many native creatures,
as well as a few special guests, including the snakehead fish from Malaysia and
even Komodo dragons. The best part is the submarine your kids can walk into
next to the shark tank. They can flip buttons and control underwater cameras to
track sharks and fish as they swim past. The aquarium is also active in
conservation efforts in the area and helps when animals are found stranded on
the beach. Bring your kids to learn about how they can protect these marvelous
sea creatures, avoid sea turtle nests and make sure our ocean’s animals will be
there for future generations.
Just across the river from Philadelphia you can watch hippos
walk through water and sharks swim overhead in Camden, NJ. This easy day trip
from Philly is perfect for families with young kids who may have naps to take
or pools to jump in during those hot summer days. Daily shows include penguin
and sting ray feedings. There are multiple touch pools that get your children
up close with the animals, but please remind them to always be gentle.
What are your favorite aquariums?