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Old 05-02-2008, 10:54 AM   #1
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The 'National' Aquarium is in Baltimore?

The travelers -- Myself, my Dearest Wife, DS-Tim and DS- David.
Daytrip to The National Aquarium in Baltimore.

It was a crisp 36 degrees with a slight breeze when we left home and had an uneventful trip to Baltimore. We were expecting at least a little excitement when reached Baltimore due to it being St. Patrick’s Day, but there did not seem to be anything unusual going on for that celebration like there is in other cities. We had arranged online to get admission and dolphin show tickets online, so our entry time was for 1030 am, with the dolphin show for 1130.
The traffic seemed to be no big problem at that hour, and now that the traffic has been eased somewhat by modifications and additions to the interstate highways, there was no backups getting to or from the parking garage we chose.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is downtown, at the Inner Harbor, so if you have time to see the other attractions, it is convenient to do that, too. A place called the Power Plant is right next door to the aquarium, and we parked in a garage across the street from that. There was not a line when we got to the Aquarium and we were directed to the kiosk where the on-line (the website is www.aqua.org ) will-call tickets are picked up, and was both fast and automated (admission is $22 adults and $13 children and an extra charge for the Dolphin Show, so we got in for <$100 for the four of us). We got inside quickly – good thing too, as it was chilly!
They really have added on some space since we were last here and it was nice to get inside and get our coats off without getting in someone else’s way. It was nice that we did not need a stroller for our sons anymore, as they do not allow them, but will loan you a backpack carrier, if you need one. There is a reception area that is staffed with nice cast members – whoops, I mean greeters that get you oriented so you can enjoy your visit. The place is built on two piers of the inner harbor, and is a good idea for Baltimore because shipping is not the industry it once was here and the space would probably be a real eyesore. It is in sections and each section has theme (and café and gift shop – of course).

The boys battle the sun in their eyes.............................................. ........ The boys at 'the bubble tubes'.

The sections are Glass Pavilion, the Pier 3 (main) Pavilion, and the Pier 4 (dolphin show) Pavilion. You take an escalator up to the main level and pause at the bubble tubes – it is a nice transition to the world of sea life. You next approach the main stingray tank, where you may get to see the keepers feed the animals!

A keeper getting ready to feed the rays.

They have the rest of the main building set up for one-way traffic, which is a good idea, considering the number of student groups that go through here (this works to our disadvantage later in the day). You take an escalator to the second level and see the displays of Maryland, “Mountains to the Sea”, which takes you through the waterways of Maryland, with special emphasis on the Chesapeake as pretty much every drop winds up there!

This is a 'small' sturgeon...At one point in time, you could walk across the Patuxent River on their backs. (R) the business end of a sturgeon!

You then loop around and over the main tank and get to the next level via a slide walk. On this third level, there is the exhibit “Surviving Through Adaptation”.


(L) an Electric Eel . .................................................. .............................................(R) some fish trying to blend in!


DW and the boys look at some amazing animals.............................(R) Seahorses doing what seahorses do.


Nice Grouper (at least, I think that's what it is) photo! It's not mine, its a display...

Next up -- to Level 4 and beyond!
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Old 05-02-2008, 12:34 PM   #2
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Great start It's been a few years since we've been there!! Brings back nice memories
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Old 05-02-2008, 01:18 PM   #3
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What beautiful photos - I've heard some good things about the place and it's fascinating to see it first hand.
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Old 05-02-2008, 02:59 PM   #4
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Great start It's been a few years since we've been there!! Brings back nice memories
Thank you! It is really nice around there!

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What beautiful photos - I've heard some good things about the place and it's fascinating to see it first hand.
They have some really nice exhibits and many are very low light and most of my photos don't do it justice, but thank you! I think they have gotten some good funding from private donors and Animal Planet, among others, so it is getting to be pretty good there.
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Old 05-03-2008, 07:15 AM   #5
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To Level Four -- And Beyond!

From where we were, you go up again to level four to see “Sea cliffs, kelp forest, pacific coral reef, and Amazon river forest”. On this level are the Puffins.



I think these look like the fish from 'Finding Nemo'


I believe this one is from the kelp forest area.... I didn't keep track..


The very top level (Level 5) is the very warm and moist glassed in “Upland Tropical Rainforest” exhibit. Here, the neatest thing is the poison dart frogs!





Then, you come back down and over to the Atlantic coral reef tank and you can see all the different kinds of sea life from the top down to the bottom, which is the Open Ocean section, where it is very dark and mysterious at the bottom.

This is where the sharks are! Big teeth! But they can be mesmerizing in their own way.


From the lowest level you can then watch the rays swimming while you sit and catch your breath – very relaxing – it’s like they are flying!

Up next -- To the dolphin pavilion!
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Old 05-03-2008, 07:40 AM   #6
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Dolphin Pavilion

From here you go up another escalator, and then to the bridge (over the water) to get to the dolphin pavilion. We timed it just right and walked into the amphitheater, found seats and sat down without much wait for the show to begin.

They performed some nice tricks together and splashed the audience pretty well, but they warned us first! They do some nice educational / informational bits with the large displays that are set on both sides of the pool.



When I find myself in a room like that with water, usually the chlorine is overpowering, but not here. Because of the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins I am sure they have something much better than good old chlorine and paper filters so it just smells a little damp, but not musty. I know it’s not Seaworld, or anything, but it was fun, and the admission charge helps to support the programs of the aquarium.

When you leave the amphitheater, you can go down to a little area and watch the dolphins underwater or you can go around and to the food court. Can you guess which one we chose? Well, we got cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches and they filled up the boys (for a while, anyway).


Once we were done with the best the aquarium had to offer, we got a couple of souvenirs and some pressed pennies as there were a couple of machines in that area. My dear wife decided that she HAD to go back and enjoy the coral reef exhibit. So, in order to do that, we had to go back through the rest of the main room and back up and around to the top floor -- whew! At least they have escalators.


After we had our fill of the reef (we didn’t see a certain yellow sponge, however!), we went over to the Glass Pavilion and enjoyed the “Animal Planet – Australia” exhibit.

L - Australian bird .................................................. .. R - Australian bat

In total, it covers parts of four stories of the building, but you only walk around on one level. We were able to see some bats and birds and animals we had not seen before, as this part was pretty new.


Crocodile Dundee, anyone?

Next door to this is the 4D Theater which currently is showing “Planet Earth – Shallow Seas”, but we did not get tickets to it. From here my dearest wife decided that she just HAD to have some more souvenirs, and I had a little time to check my photos. If you need an elevator, they have them, but you may have to backtrack a little while going through the main area. If you are in a wheel chair you need to be able to navigate the looong, winding ramp in the coral reef area, or you will miss something that is neat. If you really planned your visit, you could exit the aquarium on the ground floor of the Pier 4 Pavilion and get to the shops / restaurants on that pier a little faster than going back over to the Pier 3 Pavilion.

Next up -- ESPN Zone and final thoughts
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-- This is well observed, here at PassPorter!
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Old 05-03-2008, 10:33 AM   #7
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More great pictures! Glad you had a great time!! Can't wait to hear about ESPN Zone (we ate at the Hard Rock when we went)
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Old 05-03-2008, 01:35 PM   #8
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It's been a while since I've been to the Aquarium in Baltimore.... and the boys have never been..... I think a weekend trek may be in order soon.....
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Old 05-05-2008, 05:43 PM   #9
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Just catching up!! Sounds like a nice time at the aquarium. DS(15) visited there the last weekend in April, while on a band trip, and he said he had a nice time. Can't wait to hear about the ESPN and read your final thoughts!
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Old 05-06-2008, 03:26 AM   #10
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Wow - the dolphin show looks awesome.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:15 AM   #11
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More great pictures! Glad you had a great time!! Can't wait to hear about ESPN Zone (we ate at the Hard Rock when we went)
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It's been a while since I've been to the Aquarium in Baltimore.... and the boys have never been..... I think a weekend trek may be in order soon.....
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Just catching up!! Sounds like a nice time at the aquarium. DS(15) visited there the last weekend in April, while on a band trip, and he said he had a nice time. Can't wait to hear about the ESPN and read your final thoughts!
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Wow - the dolphin show looks awesome.
Thank you all! There is so much great stuff at Aquarium and the Inner Harbor, that I can never see it all, or truly do it justice with what I can say about it. Everyone should come see it for themselves, sometime!
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:14 AM   #12
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ESPN Zone and final thoughts

We decided to head out and walk over to the next pier where the ESPN Zone is and enjoy a little dessert and show my younger son the thrills of a really big screen.



David and the 'ball kebab' outside

We were seated right away and we enjoyed milkshakes and a fudge brownie sundae while David explored the settings of the audio controller and wondered at all of the big screens (he is ten times the sports fan I am - but then, who isn't)!



These are the boys sitting in one of the recliners, up front. I didn't use a flash in here - I did not want to disturb the sports fans in their element.

After getting some photos and the requisite souvenirs of ESPN zone – David really liked a kid-sized (American) football – we left, passing up the allure of the sports zone arcade.


Tim with a putting animatronic figure.

In the same building there is a Hard Rock Café, a Barnes and Noble and a few other eateries. We headed home before traffic started picking up in volume and made it back in good time! Some nearby attractions are: The B&O Railroad Museum, the Baltimore Maritime Museum, Harborplace Mall, Fort McHenry (of Star Spangled Banner fame), the Maryland Science Center, the Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture, and the “Top of The World” observation deck on top of Baltimore’s World Trade Center. The restored USS Constellation is berthed here as is the Pride of Baltimore. There is a Port Discovery here as well, that many with kids might find fun. You might want to take advantage of the water taxi to go between some of the sites. There are many hotels (including at least one boutique type) nearby as is the convention center and Camden Yards (the home of the Orioles) and the M&T Bank Stadium (home of the Baltimore Ravens). Nearby also are the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum & Sports Legends Museum as well as Edgar Allen Poe's grave (for you ghost hunters). All that is but a small fraction of what is in this great town.

The National Aquarium is a good way to spend the day with the kids, especially if you can combine it with a nearby attraction or two. The animals and the settings are fantastic! You can really see the fish very well. You can really get the ‘flavor’ of Baltimore by including a local restaurant in your plans, too. Go and see Baltimore sometime, ‘hon’!

By the way, there is a National Aquarium in Washington DC, it is in the Department of Commerce Building near the Federal Triangle Metro stop. It may seem like a strange place to put it, but NOAA is part of the DoC and that is where the interest in sea life originates. The website for the NOAA Aquarium is: http://www.nationalaquarium.com/

Today we walked: about a mile.
The weather today was: CHILLY!
The best thing today was: Seeing the dolphins!
The worst thing today was: yucky food.
The funniest thing today was: seeing the dolphins play with their humans.
Today we tried: going to the Aquarium and ESPN zone.
And the result was: Fun!
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Old 05-06-2008, 12:25 PM   #13
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Wow, it looks like there is a lot to be seen at the aquarium! I agree, those fish do look like the ones from finding nemo. The ESPN zone looks like fun also. Sounds like yall had a great trip!
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Old 05-06-2008, 01:02 PM   #14
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Glad you had a great time at ESPN Zone Thanks for sharing your trip with us
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Old 05-06-2008, 01:05 PM   #15
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What a fun time you had - thanks for sharing it with us.
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