Places to Go - The National Aquarium (Baltimore, MD)


As you can probably tell from Monday's post, I've been feeling a little disconnected lately. So I decided the kids and I needed some good bonding time, plus (honestly) between playdates and conflicting schedules it feels like we never get to go anywhere fun. Thus I took the girls out of school for a day and planned a trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. At first the girls were ecstatic ("dolphin show!! dolphin show!!") then they wavered - "what if we miss something in school? what if our teachers have something special planned? what if we become schoolsick?". I ignored such fears and loaded up the minivan. After a long, whiny car ride, finally we arrived. We've visited the aquarium several times in the past, but usually on weekends, when crowds fill every nook and cranny. So all of us couldn't believe our luck that there were no lines and few "tall" people - we could actually see and explore everything. finally.

For those of you who have never visited, the aquarium exemplifies good museum design. The first floor contains a huge tank of stingrays, eels, and fish, you can lean over several railings and watch them up close. It's all sort of mesmerizing. After the stingrays, moving walkways carry you to higher floors, and each level contains balconies where you can look down and view the stingrays on the first floor (I tried to photograph it above, though the result doesn't really show much).

Regarding the exhibits, the kids all ran from tank to tank. P just studied sea life in preschool, so she kept finding and pointing out different fish to us. And one big huge fish (pictured above) checked us out for quite awhile, so we started to talk with him and ask about life. The top floor of the aquarium hosts a huge mock-rainforest (almost identical to the national zoo's amazonia) where we visited a golden lion tamarin and various tortoises. From the top floor, a carpeted walkway leads you down through the shark tanks and everything becomes progressively darker and you descend. The kids expressed "fear" but it was closer to "fun, roller-coaster fear" than "real tears" fear.

Eventually we made it over to the dolphin section of the aquarium, bummed to learn that they have permanently discontinued the dolphin show, but still excited to watch the dolphins swim around for awhile. After checking out the jellyfish exhibit (probably my favorite part of the day) we lunched at Hard Rock (cheesy i know, but the kids love it) and wandered around Baltimore's inner harbor - watching P chase pigeons ("they're so hard to catch") and looking for fish in the grey/black water. We contemplated touring the inner harbor ships, but i sensed meltdowns on the horizon so we decided to hold off for another day.

Sometimes we all need a day off. especially when we can spend it by the water.

If you're interested in a day at the aquarium, the price is steep - $20.95 for children 3-11 and $29.95 for adults. wowsers. If you live in the area, I highly suggest a season pass for the bargain rate of $159 a family. The aquarium is open 9 am to 5 pm Monday - Thursday. Weekend hours vary by month, click here for the schedule. Strollers ARE NOT ALLOWED, so plan accordingly.


*Kidfriendly DC posted about a fabulous street art festival going on right now. Yesterday, we checked out Circo Para Todos (a Columbian circus act) for free at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage and the show was fantastic!! The festival goes through Saturday (with tons of weekend performances at Yards Park) - check it out if you have a chance (click here for the schedule). And thank you to Kidfriendly DC for the great suggestion!!!

*10 tv characters we can't decide whether to like or hate (i knew roger sterling would be up there, i sort of love him).

*I would love to go to one of these playgrounds. Even without the kids.

*15 clever ideas for instagram photos.


They pick all of their own outfits now, for better or worse.

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