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Visiting the National Aquarium

Updated: September 1, 2023

If you’re visiting the Washington D.C. area and want to visit an impressive aquarium, you’ll need to take an excursion to Baltimore.

The National Aquarium is nestled in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and is a popular destination for families and animal lovers.

Where is the National Aquarium?

The National Aquarium is located on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, at 501 E. Pratt St. Baltimore, MD 21202 and is easily accessible by multiple means.

There are three nearby parking garages, Harbor Park Garage, LAZ Inner Harbor Garage and Parkway Lockwood Place Garage, which offer discounts to members and guests of the National Aquarium.

If you arrive at the garage before 9AM, it is recommended that you do not validate your parking at the Aquarium, as there is an early bird special at the garage which will be overridden.

By rail, there are several options.

  • Amtrak’s Penn Station is a little over a mile away and there is both a bus and taxi option to get you to the National Aquarium.
  • The Camden Yards and Convention Center light rails stops are not far from the National Aquarium.
  • The MARC Train passes through both Penn Station and Camden Yards as well.
  • Baltimore’s Metro stops nearby at the Shot Tower/Metro Place Metro Subway Station.

By bus, you can take the lines CityLink Yellow, CityLink Navy, CityLink Brown, LocalLink 54 and LocalLink 65.

The free Charm City Circulator and various rideshare services are also options.


The National Aquarium’s hours vary, but generally will be open from 9AM to 5PM on Monday through Thursday, with longer hours on Friday and Saturday (usually until 8pm)

The hours may also change seasonally, so you’ll want to check their website for the day you are planning to visit.

National Aquarium Tickets & Discounts

  • $49.95 for adults
  • $39.95 for youths and seniors (70+).
  • Children under 4 have free admission.
  • Get your tickets here

Half Price Friday Night: Every Friday from 5pm-8pm, admission is half off!

AAA Members get a special discount if you purchase tickets through the AAA.

Tickets are purchased for a specific date and time. Late arrival is subject to building capacity.

You can also purchase tickets at the aquarium when you arrive.

What to Expect:

The National Aquarium is divided into two pavilions with a cool glass walkway over the harbor between them.

The Pier 3 Pavilion has five levels accessible by escalator or elevator.

Level 1 features Blacktip Reef, which contains sixty nine species of fish, including sharks and rays.

Level 2 is Maryland: Mountains to the Sea. It recreates environments from the Allegheny Mountains to the tidal marsh, so you can explore how aquatic life lives in complex environments.

Level 3 features Surviving Through Adaptation, an exhibit about the many ways animals find to survive in different environments. It also features a Living Seashore, where guests can interact with some creatures.

Level 4 has both North Atlantic to the Pacific and Amazon River Forest, with each recreate various environments.

The Pier 4 Pavilion is a smaller building, and contains exhibits on dolphins and jellyfish.

The Dolphin experience no longer has performances, but you can watch the dolphins from above and a large glass window below.

Other exhibits include Shark Alley, Atlantic Coral Reef, and Australia: Wild Extremes.

Plan Your Visit:

Are Tickets Required for the National Aquarium?

Tickets are required.

How Long Should I Spend at the National Aquarium?

It is suggested that you spend 90 minutes to 3 hours.

Is the National Aquarium good for kids?

Yes. Children under four can get in free. It is important to know that strollers are not allowed, so very young children will have to be carried on escalators and elevators. There is a stroller check at the main entrance, but space is limited.

The Touch Tank is the highlight for all young visitors!

Can you bring food to the Aquarium?

Outside food and drink are not allowed to be eaten inside the Aquarium, but there are three designated cafe areas with fresh foods - pizza, burgers, snacks and cafe type foods.

Things to Do Nearby:

  • Oriole Park at Camden Yards - This retro-styled ballpark is a great place to catch a game during baseball season.
  • American Visionary Art Museum - Check out some “outsider” art at this Instagram-worthy museum. This is a place to experience self-taught and intuitive art.
  • Maryland Science Center - A kid friendly stop for sharing the joy of science, this hands-on museum is near the Aquarium.

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Follow On Instagram | I'm a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. I have written for HuffPost Travel and have been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. I've also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. I am the producer of the podcast, Tour Guide Tell All. I am an authority on D.C. history, and have led tours in the city since 2011. I currently resides in DC, but have also lived in London and South Korea, and have traveled to over 28 countries and every US State but Hawaii. I homeschool my 2 children by exploring the plethora of museums in DC. Read More...
Updated: September 1st, 2023
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