New England Aquarium

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The world-renown New England Aquarium has been one of Boston’s most popular attractions since opening in 1969. Along with the Simons IMAX Theatre and New England Aquarium Whale Watch, this internationally-acclaimed conservation headquarters hosts over 1.3 million visitors each year.

About the Aquarium

The planning stages for the New England Aquarium actually date back to 1962 when its principal designer, Peter Chermayeff, a partner in the venerated Cambridge Seven Associates, began the design concept for the building. It officially opened on 20 June 1969, with the debut of the Giant Ocean Tank the following year. At the time, this tank was the world’s largest circular ocean tank; it is still the largest on the east coast of the U.S.

Over the years, more attractions were added to the aquarium campus. Most notably, this includes the ship Discovery, which was moored next to the building and served as a floating expansion from 1974 until the ships retirement in the mid-2000s. At about the time of the ship’s retirement, a major expansion, called the West Wing, was added to the original building. Made of steel and glass, this element of the aquarium is home to a harbor seal exhibit as well as gift shop, café, and galleries for temporary exhibits. Today, the aquarium boasts more than 800 separate marine species that include fish, penguins, sharks, eels, as well as their famed waterfront seals and sea lions.

In addition to its role as a major zoological attraction, the New England Aquarium is deeply involved in research and conservation of endangered marine life and oceanic conservation. This includes several programs that range from marine rescue and conservation medicine to helping build sustainable fisheries and quell the impact of climate change on the ocean.

The educational endeavors of the New England Aquarium are just as diverse as their conservation efforts and exhibits. As a leader in the region for marine education, they offer an extensive list of student and teacher resources along with classroom and school bridge programs and professional development such as continuing education classes and in-service opportunities at the aquarium. There are also numerous field trip opportunities, summer programs, classes throughout the year for all ages, lecture series, and a full online community.

Main Attraction

With a central location in the city of Boston, getting to the New England Aquarium is easy. It is right next door to the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Long Wharf on Atlantic Avenue, and fully accessible by public transportation.

The aquarium, which has recently undergone a massive renovation and upgrade, is open year round, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. There are daily behind-the-scenes tours and other presentations including an opportunity witness dives into the larger tanks, feedings, and see the animals in a more up-close-and-personal manner. There are also several special days including frequent Family Days that include an even larger selection of presentations specifically geared at helping younger kids learn about the aquarium and its inhabitants. Admissions prices are for Adults, Children (3-11), and Seniors (65+). Members of the aquarium and children under age 3 are admitted for free.

Admission to the aquarium includes access to all exhibits and general areas, but does not include tickets to the IMAX Theatre or to the Aquarium’s Whale Watch, the latter of which is only available during the months of April through October, weather permitting.

Why It’s a Must-See

The New England Aquarium is well known throughout the world because of its role as a leader in conservation and education efforts surrounding marine life and our oceans and waterways. Featuring many amazing creatures, a fantastic IMAX experience, and one of the most famed whale watches on the east coast, this is a great way to spend the day in Boston.

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.

Save up to 20% and Purchase online at Smart Destinations. If you add more than one attraction to the cart, you will get an automatic savings of up to 20%. It’s called Make Your Own Pass.

Pay Full and purchase a ticket from New England Aquarium either online or in person.

Purchase a Tourist Pass and potentially save more. The New England Aquarium is available on the Go Boston Card and Boston CityPass.