Hope you guys had an amazing weekend, and haven’t missed hearing from me too much. (hah) Thought it would be fun to highlight a fun spot we hit up in Boston this weekend.
The New England Aquarium has been reborn! If you are looking for a fun, educational, family friendly place in town rethink the Aquarium. We brought the girls to the New England Aquarium Sunday to check out the new digs and we had a ton of fun. The NEAQ underwent a MAJOR renovation, not only with their giant ocean tank, but all over was new! I had heard a lot of good about it, namely from my dear husband, who luckily works in the non-profit/museum world and got to check it out a lot earlier than yours truly.
A Winter adventure..to the NEAQ we go!
Our last family visit to the NEAQ was back 4+ years ago. At that time we had a baby in a carriage and a very active little girl who loved to run and climb..and ask questions. The experience was at best described as meh. The stroller had no room to go anywhere. Our four year old wanted to know why she couldn’t see..anything. The giant ocean tank had a lot of cloudy glass; the viewing points were more crowded because of it. The tank also didn’t have a whole lot of space with giant walls in front of the glass. The smell when you walked in from the penguins was enough to make you pass out. There weren’t a whole lot of places to take a break to read an exhibit or walk to see something else. It was just small, smelly and crazy hectic, and nothing ever felt new. I mean, I have been going to the NEAQ my whole life before having children. My parents started taking us very young. Then I, also, worked in the nonprofit/museum world for a brief period, where I would go often for fun events. I loved going. But. With the kids that small, and the aquarium at its not so greatness, it wasn’t a whole lot of fun and I dreaded going back.
But this time around.. totally different experience!
The NEAQ’s ticket area is outdoors where the Harbor Seal exhibit is set up behind. Still one of my favorite free exhibits to see in Boston. These big guys have so much fun showing off, it’s hilarious.
As you walk up to the Aquarium, you will have plenty of room to let your little ones run or sit or whatever. Your stroller poses zero issue. They have photo opportunities EVERYWHERE. From the seals over to the harbor on your right. The views are just gorgeous and a must must must if you ever visit Boston.
As soon as you enter the Aquarium you are given the chance to take a group photo against a green screen. Something you can view at a kiosk set up as you are leaving. Right beyond that is the entrance to the main area, and to your left the new touch tank. We chose to go straight to the main area cause the touch tank area seemed real busy; benefiting on families with smaller children taking off later.
Big changes were seen right whenyou walked in. The penguin exhibit is set up in the lower portion of the main exhibit area, as it has always been. The exhbit is still a major draw, but the view points are everywhere of all of the different species.
I am here to attest the better smell of the aquarium .. it is way better than ever. EVER. I am not sure how it is possible, but the stagnant stench, of whatever it used to be, seemed gone. There was a smell like you would find in any aquatic space (or zoo), but not a terribly putting off thing like before. (This is a big deal people!)
There seemed to be an active group of caretakers cleaning and taking care of the penguin area like never seen before. Also, there were a few speakers around talking about the penguins and their daily lives. Very informative.
Around the penguin area there were other new exhibits set up. The first we breezed through was on conservancy. It was then followed by an interactive along three panels where you can touch an animal and a bubble appears with their information. Then after that was the lobster exhibit that showcased their age stages. Then around the corner was a shark tank exhibit. That is where I saw this.. a shark egg.
Then to the left going outside, was the new California Sea Lion exhibit. What a gorgeous set up now! They have a sweet tank set up outdoors (covered), along Boston Harbor, where they had about 4 sea lions living. The view points and seating was all new, and the seals seemed to be having fun. Unfortunately, my camera wasn’t focusing for me!, but we watched a young sea-lion playing slide from the steps and ramp the care takers use to get the animals indoors at night to an indoor tank. He was having such a blast. What a fun little guy.
From that outdoor area there is an entrance back in to the exhibit halls; the great ocean tank, etc. The NEAQ seems to have updated these side bar exhibits too as they were clearer and had many more specimens of sea life. The girls were thoroughly focused on every detail. One floor up there was the touch tank from before. There was a speaker talking about the species of crabs and starfish, and, a new touching experience for me, anemone!
The biggest main feature of the NEAQ is and will forever be the giant ocean tank though. The tank has very real-like faux coral reef with almost 2,000 species of sea life within. There is about 200,000 gallons of salt water sitting in the glass, too. Now that is a lot! The amount and size of fish swimming by at all time is amazing, and sometimes surreal. Tuna has the most reflective skin, and their size is huge! To see them swimming alongside other tiny coral reef type fish was breathtaking. I forget how amazing this tank can be.
Aside from watching the fish swimming, a fun thing is following the giant sea turtles they have living in the tank, too. There are two, but Myrtle is the largest and oldest, and most known to those of us that grew up in Boston. She has been living there forever and gorgeous. It never does gets old looking into her eyes as she motions pass.
Another beautiful feature of the giant tank is the top of the tank exhibit area. I rarely had made my way to the top in past trips, because it was never all that exciting with crowds and the cloudy set up. But now, it is nothing like before. The set up is clear, very modern, and has open areas for strollers and other exhibits. The staff can sit on top of the tank and with view points all around. What a major difference.
Then, at the end of our NEAQ adventure, after all the tugging and pulling was becoming unbearable from the children, we made it to the touch tank! I like saving the best things for last, guys!! The new shark and stingray touch tank is a great addition to this aquarium! The exhibit space fully engulfs you into the experience, which the experience is pretty cool. If you haven’t ever been to a touch tank before, this is a great place to try it out!
The tank has a perfect shallow tropical theme. It is big enough for the animals, which there were a ton, to not have to be with the patrons solely and swim freely. The glass was very big, perfect for the little ones with vantage points all over. The sizes, shapes and colors of the animals was outright impressive, too. There was an albino stingray and a dark stingray that had to be 4 feet wide! He is in one of the photos I shot below.
Below the touch tank, to the left before the elevator, is the jelly fish exhibit. For my Boston people, you might remember the jellyfish exhibit where the new tank is now located. They scaled it back, keeping it downstairs, and as usual, is never boring. There are so many varieties of jellyfish!
We had a fantastic family day together, and I highly recommend you guys take a visit to check out all that is new and great at the New England Aquarium. You will be supporting a great Boston institution, making fun memories, and teaching your kids (and yourself!) something amazing about the aquatic animals on this amazing Earth.
I look forward to going back again this Summer.
Much love to you guys!