A vibrant and buzzing cosmopolitan metropolis, New York City affords many attractions for sightseers searching for historic or cultural exhibits and venues.
However, you may not be aware that the Big Apple also has many educational and entertainment attractions that cater specifically to families with children.
These places include children’s museums, a world-class aquarium, zoos, parks, beautiful gardens, and other kid-friendly attractions.
Today I will be reviewing the premier New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, NY.
New York Aquarium History
The New York Aquarium first opened in 1896 in Battery Park, a small location in Downtown Manhattan.
However, it was closed in 1941 at the suggestion of Robert Moses that building the tunnel from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn would adversely affect Castle Clinton’s foundation.
Following the shutdown, the aquarium animals were transferred to the Bronx Zoo, where they remained until after World War II.
In June 1957, the new aquarium opened at Coney Island, its current location.
Today, the aquarium is a famous exhibit center for marine wildlife, covering 14 acres. Over 8000 aquamarine animals are kept here.
The New York Aquarium aims to educate tourists and New Yorkers about the different types of aquamarines. Through this aquarium, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) also aims to spread the message of marine fauna conservation.
Its design is most attractive, allowing visitors to watch the animals swimming in the large aquarium.
The aquarium is also home to the famed Osborn Laboratories of Marine Sciences (OLMS).
Things To Do At The New York City Aquarium
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It’s always amazing to be surrounded by playful dolphins, sharks and many other beautiful sea creatures.
The New York Aquarium is where you can make that fantasy come true.
It features a variety of fascinating exhibits, from sea lion demonstrations that offer an intimate look at sea lions’ interactions with their trainers to the award-winning Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit and 4D theater feedings.
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The New York Aquarium is truly an enthralling experience for marine biology lovers (of all ages).
Other exhibits at the aquarium include Sea Cliffs, where you can spot walruses, sea otters, and fur seals in their natural habitat, and the Spineless Show, featuring octopuses, spider crabs, zombie worms, cuttlefish, Moon Jellies, and other marine invertebrates.
Roy and Silo, the two penguins on-site, are a marvel, too, as are the (very friendly) dolphins.
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Visitors can even swim with the Dolphins at the New York Aquarium. This and the “Deep Sea 3D Simulator Ride” offer an unparalleled experience in NYC that is well worth the cost of tickets and other vacation/staycation expenses.
The best feature of the aquarium is that it has a variety of marine animals.
If you’d like to see fish of different shapes, sizes, and colors, go to Glover’s Reef. This section of the aquarium provides an exciting viewing experience for some of the most beautiful salt-water fish you’ll ever see.
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Exhibits and events are always updated on the official website of the New York Aquarium.
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In addition to the exhibitions, there is a recently opened Playquarium. The center has many activities and interactive areas. It’s a good place for children to play.
New York Aquarium Events
From children’s birthday parties to social gatherings, team buildings, and formal galas, the New York Aquarium offers a wide range of event spaces.
The expansive grounds of this Coney Island attraction can accommodate any event and over 2,000 guests.
Indoor and outdoor event spaces are available. Check with the aquarium management/staff for space availability, pricing, and settings.
Please note that all proceeds from the New York Aquarium event benefit the WCS mission to save wildlife and wild places worldwide.
New York Aquarium Tickets and Prices
Tickets are required for all visitors to the Aquarium in New York City.
Two different types of tickets are available for admission:
- Any Day Admission Ticket: As the name suggests, the Any Day Ticket can be used any day and any time you wish. As long as you stay within the opening hours of the aquarium.
- Value Admission ticket: the value admission ticket is admissible on specific days, mostly weekdays.
Please note that although the Any Day admission ticket can be used on weekdays, it is slightly more expensive than the Value Admission ticket. And, the NYC aquarium doesn’t give refunds for Any Day tickets used on Value Admission days.
So if you’re planning on visiting the aquarium any of the five days of the week, I suggest you get a value entry ticket.
Additionally, the aquarium does not issue refunds for ticket cancellations.
Ticket prices are as follows:
Any Day Admission ticket
- Adults -$26.95
Value Admission ticket
Admission tickets are free for military personnel and children under 3yrs old.
Family membership tickets
Instead of purchasing the daily tickets, the NY aquarium has a membership program for families with children.
Membership costs $150 per year and allows unlimited access to the facility for two adults and four children for 12 months.
This is an excellent option if you plan to visit the aquarium twice or more a year.
All tickets to the aquarium can be purchased online or at the entrance.
New York Aquarium Tourist Discount
If you’re coming from outside New York and want to see more than one attraction in the city, consider the tourist pass.
This will give you discount admission (up to 50% off regular ticket prices) to the New York Aquarium and several of New York’s top tourist attractions. The pass also allows for discounts at many restaurants and shopping locations within the city.
As well, it helps reduce waiting times when visiting places.
The New York sightseeing pass can be used to enjoy as many NYC tourist activities as possible for a specified number of days.
It is available at a flat rate of $129 for an adult 1-day pass and $339 for a 10-day pass. It’s not cheap, but the larger the pass and the more attractions you visit, you get more savings.
You can purchase the New York pass online or at one of the many attractions for which the pass is valid.
New York Aquarium Free Days
The New York Aquarium offers free timed admission dubbed the name-your-own-price admission every Wednesday from 3:00 pm.
You are not obliged to pay for admission on this day as tickets are free. However, you can choose to donate a little bit of money to the aquarium as you seek entry into the venue.
Remember that even though it is free, you need an advance ticket for the time and day. Otherwise, you will be denied entry.
The free-day admission store opens every Monday at 5:00 pm. So be on the lookout to avoid missing out on the reservations.
Pro-tip: Avoid the free days if you are not a fan of crowds (it gets way too crowded to be enjoyable).
NY Aquarium Hours
The aquarium’s operating hours vary depending on the season of the year, as follows:
- November to March: 10:00 am-4:30 pm (cut off is at 3:30 pm).
- April to October: 10:00 am-5:00 pm (cut off is at 4:00 pm).
Note that these hours are usually subject to change. So check the website for the updated hour of operations before buying a ticket.
Practical Information About The New York Aquarium
602 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224
Phone: 718 265 3474
1. Is there parking at the New York Aquarium?
Yes, but it’s not free.
Parking fees vary based on the number of hours used.
The first 3 hours is $18, 3-4 hours is $25 while more than 4hrs of parking is $40.
WCS members can park for up to 3 hrs. free. You will be charged $10 for more than 3-4 hours and $20 for more than 4 hours.
Conservation fellow and above members get free all-day parking!
The parking lot opens at around 9:30 pm daily.
You’ll also find free on-street parking around Coney Island if you’re lucky. There is also metered parking ($2 for 2 hours).
2. Can you bring food to the aquarium?
Yes, but it is not necessary as there are restaurants on-site offering snacks, fast food, and seafood. Although, I find the food overpriced at all three establishments!
3. Is the New York Aquarium wheelchair accessible?
Yes. There are also free wheelchairs on-site, subject to availability. There is a $20 refundable fee upon the return of the wheelchair.
4. Are there kids” strollers at the aquarium?
Yes, strollers are available for rent at the aquarium. The rental fee is $10 for a single stroller and $15 for a double stroller.
5. Can you bring a tripod into the aquarium?
6. Are the lines long on Free Wednesday?
The lines vary on set days. But parking spaces can be quite difficult to find.
7. How do you get to the New York Aquarium via public transport?
You can access the aquarium via subway Q going downtown until the NY aquarium station. Or, you can hop on the N-line to the Coney Island station.
By bus, take the B36 to Surf Avenue. Or take the B68 to Neptune Avenue and then walk south to 8th West Street to Surf Avenue.
8. Is the New York Aquarium indoors?
Some sections are indoors, but most of the exhibits are outside.
9. Are Pets allowed in the New York Aquarium?
Only service animals are allowed.