The New England Aquarium is a huge structure, recently remodeled, on one of Boston's wharves. While here, you can also visit the IMAX theater with a combination ticket.
The Aquarium's biggest attraction is the large central tank. You wind your way up around the tank or choose an inlet to view the fish. The tanks contains over 100 different species of marine wildlife, from sharks to giant sea turtles to 'rays. From one spot, you can watch the whole tank swim by. Sometimes it is exciting to watch one of the marine biologists dive into the tank to feed the fish.
The penguins are another major attraction. The penguin exhibit stretches around the central tank on the first floor. There are several types of penguins, from South American rockhoppers to African penguins to the Little Blues. The aquarium rescued many of these little guys from oil spills. We enjoyed watching a hyperactive penguin as he flipped, jumped and swam around the exhibit.
Along the outside walls of the Aquarium, you can see fish in a variety of reconstructed environments, from the Amazon river to the Boston harbor. One perennial favorite is the dark room with the flashlight fish. The shark exhibit is currently being remodeled.
The Sea Lion show goes on periodically throughout the day. When you are choosing seats in the dual-sided auditorium, remember that the front seats sometimes get splashed. This is less true now than it was in earlier times. Today's sea lion shows only showcase one sea lion, and focus on conservation and ecology. I think this is a valuable lesson for children to learn, and is far more important than having the sea lions jump through hoops. Of course, the massive lions still display their balancing skill with the classic ball-on-nose trick. Children are selected from the audience to participate in the demonstration and kissed by the Sea Lion. Our exhibition featured Guthrie, who obviously decided to go into premature retirement. He repeatedly left the arena to return to his den, but he did eventually perform all the tricks.
The Harbor Seals are a Boston classic. Two colonies live at the Aquarium. One is visible from the outside of the Aquarium, and the other from the back side. A harbor seal is the New England version of a California Sea Lion, smaller and grey in color.
The Aquarium makes a great half-day trip, and when combined with Fanueil Hall/Quincy Market and dinner in the North End, you will be exposed to some of Boston's best sights. Children could probably spend much longer here, fascinated with the fish.
There is a great deal of walking and children may grow tired. Because of the ramps, the Aquarium is accessible to the differently-abled.
The gift shop at the entrance is quite large, offering quite an array of fishy delights, stuffed and otherwise. Most of the items appeal to children, although there is some adult fish-wear.