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New York Aquarium | Free Days and Reduced-Price Tickets

Updated: March 10, 2024

The New York Aquarium in Coney Island is a gem of New York City and worth a visit, especially when you can go for free or less than full price!

In this post, we go over what you can expect to see at the Aquarium, how to save on tickets, free days and more.

When we wrote this post, we talked to our local tour guides who have visited the NY Aquarium many times over the years.

Also, at the bottom of this post, you’ll find some opinions from members of our popular New York City Travel Tips Facebook group.

This group of over 225,000 members consists of locals, regular visitors, and newbies to NYC who are happy to share their insights with others.

You don't need to become a member to read the posts, comments, and recommendations.

So check out the group after you've read this post!


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 below about this and other opportunities to save some money.


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.

There are two different types of tickets available: 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 on 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. 

NOTE: As of March 2024, the value admission tickets are not currently available.

TIP: Before you pay full price for tickets, read below to see how you can get up to 50% off.

Any Day Ticket Prices

Tickets purchased for off-peak days (winter months) are slightly less than those on peak days.

When you go to purchase your tickets you will see which days are peak and off-peak.

Off-Peak Hours

Peak Hours

Family Aquarium Membership  

Family memberships provide unlimited access to the New York Aquarium for 2 adults and 4 kids for 12 months.

The price of an Aquarium Membership is $120.

Most families will save money with this option if they plan to visit more than once per year.

TIP: Read more below for more opportunities to save money on admission to the New York Aquarium.


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

This section details these ways, including tourist passes, military reduced-price, and more.

Tourist Attraction 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.

Admission to the New York Aquarium is currently only included with one service: the New York Sightseeing Pass, in both its Flex Pass as well as Unlimited 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, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more.

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

New York Aquarium Free Day

On Wednesdays after 3 pm, you don't need to pay anything to visit by getting New York Aquarium free tickets!

It is technically name-your-own-price admission so you might want to donate something but it isn't mandatory.

Advance timed tickets are required. Free tickets are released on Monday at 3 pm for that Wednesday’s reservations. Reserve tickets here.

Several other locations have free days. Read our post on Free Museums and Cultural Institutions in New York City.

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

Savings Websites

Sites like Groupon and Living Social sometimes offer reduced-price tickets.

Before buying tickets, check these websites.

Also, you can check websites such as RetailMeNot for other ways to save on tickets.

Free Military Tickets

New York Aquarium tickets are free for veterans, active duty, and reserve members of the U.S. Military when they present a valid Military ID at the gate.

Up to 3 accompanying family members receive 50% off tickets when purchased together (except on Coney Island Aquarium Free Days).

Find out about getting these tickets from the website's FAQ section.

Official Promotions 

Occasionally, the New York Aquarium offers reduced-price tickets on its website.

All you have to do is check the top of the page for a banner to see if these tickets are available.


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

Hours change seasonally.

  • Winter 10 am- 4:30 pm, last entry at 3:30 pm
  • Spring 10 am- 5 pm, last entry at 4 pm
  • Summer 10 am - 6 pm, last entry at 5 pm
  • Fall Spring 10 am- 5 pm, last entry at 4 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 Coney Island Aquarium 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.


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

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, check our post about other things to do in NYC.


Here is some information about the Aquarium's permanent exhibits and experiences, as well as how to purchase tickets to Wild Encounters small group sessions where you can get up close to the animals.

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.


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. 

Spineless Wonders

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

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


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

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


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.


From April to October, you can enjoy these special experiences that take you behind the scenes 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.


  • $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:

Tips From Locals and Travelers

Here are some thoughts on the New York Aquarium from members of our New York Travel Tips group on Facebook.

The feedback was almost entirely positive, except for the advice that going during the off-season might not be as satisfying.

Here Betty stated how much her entire group liked the experience, especially when taking advantage of other activities at Coney Island.

LaUralai also enjoyed it and encouraged visitors to spend extra time at Coney Island.

Rhandi loved her time with her daughter there, but like Lauren, warns that winter is not the best time to go.

For even more helpful advice, visit the group page and post a question yourself!

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About The Author

Courtney Shapiro

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”. READ MORE...
Updated: March 10th, 2024
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