New York Aquarium | Free Days and Discount Tickets

This post offers tips on ticket discounts and free days at the New York Aquarium as well as information on exhibits on display, best times to visit and directions.

 

 


ABOUT THE AQUARIUM 

Though not very large, this aquarium does have some great exhibits, especially the Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit. 

See the section below on exhibits and experiences to find out more about what you will see during your visit.

You could certainly spend up to 2 hours if you do not rush through. Set aside time for other activities before or after your visit.  

Each Aquarium ticket comes with free admission to the 4D theater next door. As the Aquarium is in Coney Island, there are many fun nearby attractions.

NOTE: If you’re interested in seeing even more animals, you might want to consider visiting either the Central Park Zoo or the Bronx Zoo as well. 

Admission to both zoos and the New York Aquarium is included with the New York Sightseeing Pass.

Read our discount section for more details about this and other opportunities to save some money.

 


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AQUARIUM TICKETS

Admission to the Aquarium can be purchased either on location or ahead of time through their website. 

If you buy tickets before arrival, you can get instant access simply by showing the ticket on your phone or printing it out and bringing it along with you.

 

New York Aquarium Coney Island

 

There are two different types of tickets available: Any Day Admission and Value Admission.

As the name implies, you can use an Any Day ticket whenever you want. Value Admission tickets are only valid on specific days – mostly weekdays.

If you’re planning to visit during a weekday, you should check to see if you can get a Value Admission ticket instead.

No refunds will be given for Any Day tickets used on Value Admission days. 


TIP: Before you pay full price for tickets, see how you can save 50% in our discounts section.


Any Day Ticket Prices

  • $26.95/Adults | $22.45/Children | $24.25/Seniors
  • FREE for children 2 years old & under
  • FREE for members of the military
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

Value Admission Ticket Prices

  • $22.45/Adults | $17.95/Children | $19.75/Seniors
  • FREE for children 2 years old & under
  • FREE for members of the military
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

Family Aquarium Membership  

Membership provides unlimited access to the New York Aquarium for 2 adults + 4 kids for 12 months.

The price of an Aquarium Membership is $150. Most families will save money with this option if they plan to visit more than once per year.

 

TIP: Make sure to read our discounts section for more opportunities to save money on admission to the New York Aquarium.

 


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AQUARIUM DISCOUNTS

There are several different ways to save money on New York Aquarium tickets.

This section will provide details about a variety of discounts including tourist passes, military discounts and more.


Tourist Attraction Discount Passes

If you’re planning to visit more than one attraction while you’re in NYC, you may want to think about getting a tourist pass.

These services allow you to pay one flat price for either a set number of attractions or a specific number of days during which you can enjoy as many included activities as possible.

 

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Admission to the New York Aquarium is currently only included with one service: the New York Sightseeing Pass.

This can be purchased as either a day pass or an attraction pass, which means you get to decide how to save money!

In addition to the aquarium, this service also includes admission to Luna Park, which is one of the most popular nearby attractions. 

If you plan to visit this amusement park while you’re in the area, the New York Sightseeing Pass could easily save you a lot of cash. 

This tourist pass also offers skip-the-line admission at popular attractions like Madame Tussauds, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and more.

For additional details or to learn more about how to take advantage of this discount opportunity, please read our post about New York City tourist passes.


New York Aquarium Free Day 

This attraction offers name-your-own-price admission after 3 pm every Wednesday. 

Although we recommend donating at least a little bit, this is a great way to save money on tickets.

There are several other locations that offer this discount day, and you can learn more about them in our post about free museums in New York City.

You may also want to look at our post on free things to do in NYC for more affordable activities.


Discount Sites

In addition to coupon codes, you may also want to check sites like Groupon and Living Social for any discounts that may be available.

These services also like to offer codes that you can use to save even more money on their attractions and activities. 

Make sure to check the top of the page for any banner that provides an additional discount.


Military Discount 

The New York Aquarium offers one free general admission ticket for veterans, active duty and reserve members of the U.S. Military when they present a valid Military ID at the gate. 

Although this free ticket is only available for members of the military, up to three family members will also be eligible for a 50% discount when tickets are purchased together.

NOTE: This discount is not applicable on free days (Wednesdays after 3 pm). To be fair, you’ll probably spend less on those days regardless!


Coupon Codes 

Every now and then, the New York Aquarium will offer their own discount for tickets purchased on their website.

All you have to do is check the top of the page for a banner that provides the coupon code necessary to save some money.

Also, you can also check websites such as RetailMeNot for coupon codes that aren’t listed on the site. These codes don’t always work, but when they do, it’s easy and quick to use them!

 


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PLAN YOUR VISIT

The following section gives you information on how to get to the Aquarium, the best times to visit, and how long to expect to spend there.

We also list several fun attractions located within walking distance.


How to Get Here

The best way to get to the Aquarium (located on the east end of Coney Island) is by subway. It is affordable and easy. 

You can use this Google Maps link to get exact directions to the Aquarium from anywhere in NYC by subway, car or bus.

Depending on where you are in Manhattan, it can take approximately 1 – 1 ½ hours to get to the Aquarium. If you are in downtown Brooklyn, it will take around 45 – 60 minutes.

 

 

By subway:

  • Take the Brooklyn-bound F train or Q train to “West 8th Street Station.” This station is a block away from the Aquarium.
  • You can also take the Brooklyn-bound N train or D train to the “Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue Station. This stop is a few blocks west of the Aquarium.

TIP: Check out our post on how to navigate the NYC subway system and “Which Subway MetroCard Should I Buy?

By car: If you have a car, you can drive here, but parking garages typically cost a steep $18.  

By bus: You cannot travel by bus unless you are already in Brooklyn and it will take almost 90 minutes.


Best Times to Visit 

As with most popular attractions, there are times when the New York Aquarium can get pretty crowded. 

That being said, there are only a few details to keep in mind before visiting. 

Their limited operational hours will probably be one of the most important things to factor into your trip.

New York Aquarium Hours

Winter Hours

  • 10 am – 4:30 pm
  • Last entry at 3:30 pm

Summer Hours

  • 10 am – 6 pm
  • Last entry at 5 pm

With only 6 ½ hours per day to visit during the winter, you’ll have to fit this outing into your itinerary sometime during the middle of the day. 

Thankfully, it shouldn’t be too difficult to do that, because the Aquarium is pretty quiet throughout the week. 

For the most peaceful experience, consider arriving between 10 am – 12 pm or from 2 pm – 4:30 pm.

Given that the Aquarium is located at Coney Island, you can expect larger than usual crowds during the summer. 

 

Acquarium Times Mondays

 

Weekends are the only time you will want to avoid the New York Aquarium. This is when the attraction is at its busiest, with Saturdays being especially popular. 

 

Aquarium Saturdays

 

In addition to being quite busy, these are also the days when tickets will be their most expensive.

If you must visit on the weekend, make sure to go either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.


NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

There is a lot to see and do near the New York Aquarium and below are the most popular places to visit.

Definitely check out our post on things to do in Coney Island which has information on other activities and also places to eat.

 

 

Luna Park 

You will find this historic amusement park right down the street from the Aquarium. There is an admission fee, though admission is free for holders of some New York tourist passes.

Coney Island Boardwalk 

New Yorkers have enjoyed this activity for over a century. You’ll see everything from the beautiful ocean to some wacky characters!

Nathan’s Famous 

Be sure to get one of the most popular hot dogs in the world! This is an affordable and classic snack to eat while wandering around Coney Island.

See a Brooklyn Cyclones Game

During the summer you can see the minor league baseball team, the Brooklyn Cyclones. The tickets are pretty cheap.

If you’re looking for even more fun activities in and around the city, make sure to check our post about other things to do in NYC.

 


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AQUARIUM EXHIBITS AND EXPERIENCES

This section provides details on the Aquarium’s permanent exhibits and experiences at the aquarium with some details about each attraction.

We also provide information on how to purchase tickets to one of the Wild Encounters, small group sessions where you can get up close to the animals. 


Aquatheater 

This is where the action happens! Enjoy a live and interactive show as trainers bring out the sea lions to perform some fun and entertaining tricks for the crowd. 

 

 


Ocean Wonders: Sharks! 

This impressive three-story exhibit building has nine different galleries showcasing 18 species of sharks and rays.  

 

 

The shark exhibit building also has more than 115 other species of marine life, including the Loggerhead Sea Turtle.


Sea Cliffs

When they aren’t performing for the crowds, the California Sea Lions make their home at this exhibit. 

 

 

This is also where you will find the Sea Otters, Black-Footed Penguins, and Harbor Seals.


Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef

Visitors love taking in all of the aquatic life on display at Glover’s Reef.

 

 

This exhibit includes a variety of fish and other wildlife such as the Moray Eel and the Cownose Ray.


Spineless Wonders

This exhibit highlights the importance of invertebrates — the spineless creatures that are way down on the bottom of the food chain!

​See Lagoon Jellies​, Pacific Sea Nettles​, a Japanese Spider Crab​, and a ​Giant Pacific Octopus.


PlayQuarium

Coming soon!

Perfect for young children, this exhibit teaches how animals communicate underwater and also covers a bit about the ocean’s ecosystem. 

Kids will play the role of a scientist, searching for bioluminescent fish in a submarine.


EXPERIENCES

4D Theater 

You will find this attraction right next door to the Aquarium. Admission is included with every Aquarium ticket. 

The theater specializes in showing 3D films with extrasensory effects (touch, smell, etc.) that make the experience even more immersive. 


Sea Otter Feedings

Check the board next to the wall map in the lobby for the daily feeding schedule.

 

 


WILD ENCOUNTERS

These sessions take you behind the scenes and allow you to get up close to the animals.

Tickets must be purchased separately as these sessions are not included in general admission tickets.


Ocean Wonders: Sharks!

During the 45-minute small-group session, you will get one-of-a-kind views of their marine animals. You will also get to visit the Aquarium’s private touch pool for a VIP experience.

 

 

Tickets:

  • $39.95 per person
  • All participants must be age 6 and over
  • Each child 6-7 years old must be accompanied by a paid adult
  • Children 8-14 years old must be accompanied by a paid adult
  • More information and to purchase tickets.

Other Wild Encounters:

 


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About the author

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others.

She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.