on November 20, 2006
The New England Aquarium is one of our favourite downtown destinations. Ticket prices are high (almost $20 for adults, $10 for kids), but membership options are completely reasonable. A family membership ($90/year) pays for itself after only two visits.But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The first hassle of any trip out into Boston is PARKING. The Aquarium has a garage right next to it that is very expensive. As we usually only go for about an hour, we circle around until we find street parking, which is not impossible as you'd expect. Obviously, the Aquarium T stop on the Blue Line is right near the Aquarium, so that is a great option if you're on the T.Once you get there, hopefully the weather is decent, because the ticket line is outside. Another perk of membership is that you don't need to wait in that line. If you want to become a member, you also get to cut the line and go directly inside.Once in, you get your hand stamped, and they try to take your photo in front of an ocean scene to sell back to you as you leave. If you're into that kind of souvenir, go for it.The sea jellies (it's not politically correct to call them jelly fish I guess) exhibit is easy to miss, as it's off to the left as soon as you enter, while the rest of the Aquarium is off to the right. The jellies are beautiful, but a lot of this exhibit is down stairs, so it's not stroller or wheelchair friendly. In fact, when it's busy there, they post a sign that strollers aren't allowed in the exhibit at all.Conveniently, a free stroller check is right there at the entrance. The rest of the Aquarium is stroller-friendly (assuming the place isn't too packed to move, as it often gets) due to ramps leading to all the levels. Also up front are lockers and the rest rooms.Once inside the main hall of the Aquarium, the first exhibit houses the penguins. Working your way up the outside ramps brings you to lots of little tanks, with tropical fish, local fish, deep sea fish, sea dragons, etc. There's a hands-on section where you can touch sea stars and sea urchins. Once to the top, you can take the center spiral ramp down. This encircles the main big tank, which has sea turtles, sharks, eels, and lots more fish.Out back there's a seal tank, but every time I've been there it's difficult to see any seals. Much better is the seal tank out front that's behind the ticket booth. If you missed it on your way in, you'll see it on your way out. But before leaving, there's a cafe upstairs by the entrance. I've never actually eaten there, so can't recommend the food. But I love the gift shop.
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