If you have a child whose greatest joy in life seems to be chasing their siblings around with whatever insects or frogs they manage to find in the yard, you’re in luck: there’s now an opportunity for them to explore those interests in an educational way. The National Aquarium in Baltimore recently debuted an “Icky, Creepy, Slimy, Cool” interactive exhibit that allows visitors (ages 8 and up) to get up-close and personal with some of the weirdest and most fascinating species at the aquarium.
Kids will love seeing and learning about bats, bugs, snakes, sharks, jellyfish, crocodiles, and a few things you’ve probably never heard of. They’ll be talking for days about the bright, alien-like mantis shrimp and the sharks that can walk on the ocean floor. During the tour, they can (safely) meet and touch some of the animals, and even participate in a feeding if the timing is right.
Currently, the tour is set to take place from 9 to 11 a.m. on February 13 and 27 and March 5, 19 and 26; additional dates will be announced on the aquarium’s website. Tickets include aquarium admission, so you can feel free to wander around afterwards to visit some of the aquarium’s less “creepy” creatures. Book ahead of time to reserve your spot in the tour.
Not going to be near Baltimore anytime soon? See if one of these (less extensive and less “icky”) interactive aquarium exhibits is a shorter commute:
Georgia Aquarium: Here, kids can meet sea creatures in supervised touch pools, including bonnethead sharks, rays, and sea urchins. There’s a playground here as well, with crawl tubes and a whale slide.
New England Aquarium: This aquarium in Boston is home to the largest shark and ray touch tank on the East Coast. You can also schedule a play session with the aquarium’s seals.
The Florida Aquarium: Kids can touch and take photos with juvenile alligators, swim with fish or sand tiger sharks, and pet rays or bamboo sharks in the touch tank.
Aquarium of the Pacific: In Long Beach, California, kids can touch several varieties of sharks, meet penguins or sea otters, or take part in the Seal and Sea Lion Encounter. They can also take several two-hour “Junior Biologist” classes or go on the Wonders of the Deep tour to learn about deep-sea creatures.
Oregon Coast Aquarium: Feel limpets, purple shore crabs, sea cucumbers, and more in the touch pool, watch the wave-crash exhibit outside, and examine small creatures under a microscope at the Ocean Exploration Station.
— Kaitlin Braun