A visit to an aquarium is a perfect family day trip. Aquariums offer children a chance to experience and learn about sea creatures in a hands-on, fun way, and the colorful marine life and exhibits will delight and engage family members of all ages. Here are some tips for making the most of your day at the aquarium.
Do Your Research
As you begin planning your trip, check out the aquarium’s website. Browsing the website with your child is a great way to stimulate curiosity. Many aquarium sites have webcams that offer previews of exhibits and marine life. You can also check out maps, feeding hours, and other scheduled events. Some sites even post crafts and games, which will help children get excited about the trip. The website is also a good place to find other helpful information, such as where to park, food that’s available on-site, and opportunities to buy tickets in advance so you can avoid waiting in a long line.
Before You Go
Enter the aquarium prepared! Talk with your family about which exhibits are must-see. Make a plan according to your family’s interests. Go ahead and pack snacks for munching in designated eating areas. Having a scavenger hunt or a journal for older kids is a great way of keeping them engaged throughout the day. If your child is young enough to tire easily, by all means bring a stroller. You can also check the website or call ahead to see if the facility rents strollers or provides areas to park yours.
Enjoying the Day
Your bag is packed, you have your list of must-sees…now what? When you arrive, take advantage of learning behind-the-scenes information by talking with the staff. Staff members are often well-trained and incredibly knowledgeable. Labels or graphics generally describe exhibits, but talking to an expert will help children better understand the animals, their habitats, and the messages of conservation. As you explore throughout the day, try to switch things up by using snacks, lunch, and a romp on the playground (if available) to break up the learning and observing times. Don’t forget the “touch me” displays. Your child is sure to enjoy holding a sea star, feeling a sea cucumber, or touching the back of a crab.
Bring the Fun Home
It is best to decide your souvenir policy before your trip. Will this be a time when a collection of photos is the memento of the day, or are you okay with bringing home a gaggle of stuffed sea creatures? If you plan on purchases, will you be footing the bill, or will your child be bringing his piggy bank? In most aquariums, all roads lead to the gift shop. To avoid a meltdown, stick with the rule: If you’re not going to buy, don’t browse. One budget-friendly idea would be to create a small photo book of the pictures taken while on your trip. You could even upload photos to your local photo store as you leave the aquarium. While custom books take time to print, you could pick up your photos on your way home and simply slide them into an inexpensive photobook. Voila! A quick and easy keepsake of your adventure.
A trip to an aquarium is an engaging and educational way to spend a day. Time spent together–plus newfound knowledge about sea animals and their habitats–is sure to make this a fun day trip for your family.