Go on an adventure through award-winning exhibits of unique aquatic habitats at the National Aquarium.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is one of the city’s most popular attractions, and for good reason. Located at the Inner Harbor, the aquarium is home to over 17,000 animals spanning 750 species.
They opened in 1981 and have won several awards since then including “Best Exhibit” for Australia: Wild Extremes from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Table of Contents
Exhibits at the National Aquarium
Amazon River Forest
Discover the aquatic animals of the Amazon River Rainforest in this amazing exhibit full of emerald tree boas, giant waxy tree frogs, and giant South American river turtles.
Atlantic Coral Reef
As you walk down this winding dimly lit exhibit which replicates the Atlantic coral reef, you’ll come across hundreds of exotic species of animals. Keep your eyes peeled for spot-fin porcupinefish, black grouper, green moray eel, and more.
Australia: Wild Extremes
There are over a thousand animals in this exhibit which represents an Australian river gorge. You can discover Australia’s many marine animals like the Barramundi and Death Adder.
One of the first exhibits you’ll see when you explore the National Aquarium, the Blacktip Reef exhibit is a family favorite. Replicating an Indo-Pacific reef landscape, there are nearly 70 species of fish there such as zebra sharks, blacktip reef sharks, and spotted unicornfish. There are also several stingrays and sea turtles.
Home to six Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, the Dolphin Discovery exhibit has an amphitheater where you can get up close with these intelligent marine mammals. Guests are invited to watch feedings, training, play times, and more. For an additional fee, you can take a dolphin tour that takes your behind the scenes to a closer, staff-only area.
The Jellies Invasion exhibit is a crowd favorite and houses nine distinct species of jellyfish such as the Atlantic Bay Nettle, Purple-Striped Jellyfish, and the Blue Blubber Jellyfish. You can learn so much about these translucent animals.
Aquarium guests love the Living Seashore exhibit because it includes two touch pools where you can interact with crabs, stingrays, whelk, and moon jelly. There are little exhibits and demonstrations scheduled throughout the day where your little one can ask questions.
Maryland: Mountains to the Sea
In this exhibit, you can explore the diversity of Maryland’s aquatic ecosystems in four stages: the source of a stream in the Allegheny Mountains, which winds to a tidal marsh and a coastal beach before reaching the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll see a lot of the animals that live along the way such as a diamondback terrapin, American bullfrog, striped burrfish, and more.
North Atlantic to the Pacific
You’ll find several aquatic animals here varying from unique starfish to seabirds like Atlantic puffins. Don’t forget to check out the sea anemones while you’re there.
Shark Alley: Atlantic Predators
An exhibit of the deep and darker aspect of the Atlantic coral reef, Shark Alley is home to some of the aquariums larger reef animals such as sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, and roughtail stingrays.
For an additional $45 per person, the aquarium offers a behind-the-scenes shark tour where you check out the food prep for the sharks and participate in feeding them.
Surviving Through Adaptation
In this exhibit you can learn about the many marine animals that adapt to survive in their changing environment like the peacock mantis shrimp and the shocking electric eel.
Upland Tropical Rainforest
Simulating the Amazon Rainforest, this exhibit spans two stories with glass-enclosed displays of amphibians and reptiles as well as open displays of the yellow-headed Amazon parrot, blue poison dart frog, Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth, and more.
The very first exhibit you’ll encounter when you walk into the aquarium, this magnificent urban waterfront park spans 90,000 square feet and is filled with local flora and fauna.
Hours and Admission
The aquarium’s opening hours vary depending on holidays, but their general hours of operation are:
- Monday to Thursday: 10 AM to 4 PM
- Friday: 10 AM to 8 PM
- Saturday and Sunday: 10 AM to 5 PM
Ticket costs vary based on age.
- Children two and under: Free
- Aged 3 – 11: $29.95
- Aged 12 – 64: $39.95
- Aged 65+: $34.95
You can experience the aquarium for less by taking advantage of their half-price admission every Friday after 5 PM all year long.
If you plan to visit the aquarium often, you may want to consider joining as a member. There are different membership levels from $75 upward and comes with benefits such as unlimited admission for a year, members-only events, and discounts on guest tickets, parking, and at the gift shop.
Directions, Parking, & Getting There
The National Aquarium is located at 501 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. You may find metered street parking in the surrounding area; if not, there are several parking garages surrounding the aquarium.
The following official parking partners offer discounted parking rates for guests and members:
- Harbor Park Garage (55 Market Place, Baltimore, MD 21202)
- LAZ Inner Harbor Garage (100 S. Gay St., Baltimore, MD 21202)
- Parkway Lockwood Place Garage (124 Market Place, Baltimore, MD 21202)
Take the Train to the National Aquarium
- Amtrak: Penn Station (taxi, ride sharing, and the free Charm City Circulator available from here)
- Light Rail: Convention Center and Camden Yards Light Rail Stops
- MARC Train: Camden Yards and Penn Station MARC Train Stops
- Metro Subway: Shot Tower/Market Place Metro Subway Station
How to take the bus to the National Aquarium
- Charm City Circulator: Orange Line (Free)
- LocalLink: Bus Number 65
- LocalLink: Bus Number 54
- CityLink: Yellow Bus
- CityLink: Brown Bus
- CityLink: Navy Bus
Additional amenities offered by the aquarium include changing tables, family restrooms, a guest relations room, special accessibility guide for guests with limited mobility, Magic Memories photo session, stroller parking, and a locker/ coat check.
The details provided regarding the National Aquarium were current at the time of writing this article; please contact the aquarium at (410) 576-3800 to confirm details prior to visiting.
Baltimore National Aquarium FAQ
What are the hours of operation for the National Aquarium Baltimore?
The National Aquarium Baltimore is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. However, hours may vary on holidays, so it’s always a good idea to check the aquarium’s website for updated information before your visit.
How much are tickets to the National Aquarium Baltimore?
Ticket prices vary depending on the day and time of your visit, as well as your age and whether you’re a member of the aquarium.
General admission tickets:
- Adults (ages 12-64) range from $34.95 to $39.95
- Children’s (ages 3-11) tickets range from $24.95 to $29.95
- Seniors (ages 65+) can purchase tickets for $33.95 to $38.95
Do I need to purchase tickets in advance?
It’s highly recommended that you purchase tickets in advance, as the National Aquarium Baltimore can sell out on busy days. You can purchase tickets online through the aquarium’s website.
Is there parking available at the National Aquarium Baltimore?
Yes, there are several parking options near the aquarium, including a garage located directly above the aquarium. Rates vary depending on the day and time of your visit.
What exhibits can I see at the National Aquarium Baltimore?
The National Aquarium Baltimore has a variety of exhibits featuring aquatic animals from around the world, including sharks, dolphins, turtles, jellyfish, and more. Some of the most popular exhibits include the Shark Alley, Jellies Invasion, and Blacktip Reef exhibits.
Are there any special experiences or tours available at the National Aquarium Baltimore?
Yes, the aquarium offers a variety of special experiences and tours, including behind-the-scenes tours, animal encounters, and sleepovers. These experiences must be booked in advance, and prices vary depending on the specific experience.
Is food available at the National Aquarium Baltimore?
Yes, there are several dining options available at the aquarium, including a café, snack stands, and a sit-down restaurant. Outside food and drink are not allowed inside the aquarium, but there are picnic areas available outside.