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Geeky Parent Guide: Aquariums

When the summer temperature is too much for extended outside play, parents sometimes have to find fun indoor activities. Aquariums provide that opportunity for kids to beat the heat, while also watching and learning about an extensive variety of life. Let’s explore some of the ways you and your family can get cool by exploring the many elements that different aquariums have to offer.

National Aquarium
Baltimore, MD

Blacktip Reef is a breathtaking, award-winning exhibit full of color, light and movement located in the heart of National Aquarium.” As a Baltimorean, I can absolutely attest to this statement on their website, as my family has spent many a times sitting and staring into the beautiful exhibit. The glass flows from the ceiling down to the floor as you can feel yourself drifting away, submerging under the water with all of the many fish surrounding your every move.

You can view Blacktip Reef live or catch a recording of it, if “the exhibit has gone dark for the night.”

The National Aquarium also offers an annual event, “Grade A Student Night,” for “all Baltimore-area students who achieved three or more A’s (or equivalent) in any one marking period during the school year.” This year’s event in June sold out, including its first ever expansion from one to two evenings. The student and one adult attend for free, with other family members allowed to attend for only $5.00.

How about watching a short film in the 4-D Immersion Theater? You and your family can enjoy a 3-D movie combined “with special effects, such as mist, wind, snow, bubbles, leg ticklers, scents, enhanced lighting and seat vibrations!” The titles currently playing are Happy Feet, for penguin lovers, and Coastal Predators, for those interested in seeing “dolphins, sharks, whales and seals converge to feast along the breathtaking South African coast in one of nature’s most amazing events.”

Georgia Aquarium
Atlanta, GA

If you’re interested in a night on the town, without the kids, then perhaps you’ll stop by the Georgia Aquarium for Sips Under the Sea. There are different themes for these adult-orientated cocktail parties, and the next one on Friday, August 4 will shine a light on some fun. The “Glow in the Dark Party” is just what it sounds like. You’ll come dressed in clothing, neon or white, which will then glow in the dark. “You’ll have the entire Aquarium to yourself while enjoying cocktails, tapas, and entertainment.”

For those wanting to bring the family along as well, check out Toddler Time. Each themed event will be an hour and a half long, as “children will meet and learn about an approachable animal during a special introduction to marine life.” There will be snacks, storytelling, and crafts.

Oregon Coast Aquarium
Newport, OR

Do you love a good shipwreck story? SECRETS OF SHIPWRECKS: Part History, Part Mystery will take guests on a quest from “the Red Sea to the Caribbean.” It’s an opportunity to deeply dive into the environment surrounding underwater wrecks and learning about the expertise required to uncover such treasures.

Passages of the Deep not only presents a variety of sea life to explore, it provides a unique experience for those looking for an extended stay. “Sleep with the Sharks” presents an amazing opportunity for those to slumber in 360 degree tunnels, with a world of water just a reach away.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey, CA

Tentacles, tentacles, tentacles. The “special exhibition is the largest, most diverse living exhibit ever created to showcase these animals.” The many feelers are attached to a variety of cuttlefish, octopus, and squid. If you’re looking for a colorful display, the flamboyant cuttlefish might be hard to miss, “continually flashing vibrant yellow, maroon, brown, white and red along its body.”

They also provide a bevy of tour opportunities, including family tours, a look at the sea otter conservation program, and a romance tour – perhaps as a night out for only the parents. If you can get away, or even if you can’t, they provide printable activities for the kids to do at home.

If you’re looking for a podcast, Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a collection of episodes, including a six-part series from last October dedicated to plastic pollution and “how the issue has energized young people and policymakers.”

Aquarium of the Pacific
Long Beach, CA

For those in and around the Long Beach area, almost all of your Fridays are covered from now until the end of the year. Summer Happy Hour on the Veranda is FREE with your Aquarium admission, and starting tomorrow, Friday, July 7 from 4pm to 6pm, you can enjoy a harbor view with jazz music – “cocktails and snacks will be available for purchase.”

Once the happy hours wrap up near the end of summer, Shark Lagoon Nights will be your Friday fun for the rest of the year, starting on Friday, September 8 from 6pm to 9pm. You will get to check out sand tigers, rays, and even be allowed to touch bamboo sharks. “This is a FREE event and RSVP is not required.” They also have refreshments available to buy, including, but not limited to, coffee, beer, wine, and desserts. They also emphasize that some Fridays are excluded, and those dates are currently listed as October 20, October 27, and November 10th.

If your kids are looking for a learning adventure, they’ll find plenty of chances with designated programs for younger kids and teens. “The Junior Biologist series of programs at the Aquarium will encourage a love of science in your seven- to twelve-year-old child.” Teens from ages 13 through 17 can examine the intricacies of working with animal life in the Job Shadow Class, where they can explore what it’s like to be a Mammalogist, Veterinarian, Marine Biologist, or a Penguin and Lorikeet Biologist.

Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
Shanghai, China

If you visit their exhibits’ page, listen to details about each of the various zones available to visit. Along with an audio clip, click on images to find out specifics about that particular animal.

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Dubai, UAE

Take a trip with endangered species through VRZOO. “We sent teams to the four corners of the planet to bring you the world’s most endangered species,” including introductory videos to give you a glimpse into their worlds.

In addition to fun activities, you’ll also find that aquariums list different educational programs, various conservation projects, animal rescue, or information about what can be done to better keep oceans and surrounding environments clean.

What are your favorite exhibits or educational programs from your local aquarium? Please share your comments, and don’t forget to like and rate in the section below. You can also tweet at us, connect with other geeky parents on our Facebook page, and share this page with all of your friends.

If you’re looking for other summer activities, don’t forget to check out the GPG’s recommendations for summer viewing and vacation spots.

Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.

S.T. Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor



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