National Aquarium Baltimore: One of the Country’s Best

The National Aquarium Baltimore has been one of the most loved sites of interest for people since 1981. It has been numerously ranked as one of the best aquariums in the entire country.

It is the charm of the Inner Harbor region of Baltimore. With more than 20,000 marine animals, National Aquarium wins the title of one of the most popular attractions in the city and all of the United States.

If you have plans to explore Baltimore anytime soon, you must schedule a day out of your tour to cherish the beauty of this popular aquarium.

But before that, get a glimpse at this travel guide to staying informed about ticket prices, events, reviews, best visiting times and other such insightful information.

What is the important information about National Aquarium Baltimore?

Best Time to VisitMay and June
Suggested Visit Duration2-3 Hours
Visiting Hours9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Ticket PricesStarts from $39.95
SpecialtyThe National Aquarium Baltimore has around 2,200,000 gallons of water and is home to more than 20,000 aquatic animals.
Address501 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA (View on Maps)
Contact Number(s)+1 410-576-3800, +1 410-576-3880, +1 410-576-3833, +1 410-576-3847, +1 410-576-8745, +1 410-986-2386

What is the History of National Aquarium Baltimore?

The early plans for setting up the National Aquarium Baltimore began in the 1970s. The idea and inspiration credit goes to Boston’s New England Aquarium.

The mayor of that time, William Donald Schaefer and the Commissioner of Housing Department, Robert C. Embry, took this idea ahead and implemented it as a redevelopment project for Inner Harbor, Baltimore.

The plan was proposed to the critics, and there was a fear that the aquarium would fail to attract the crowd and the project might fail. But, in the year 1976, the residents of Baltimore voted in favor of the idea.

It was August 8, 1978, when the construction of the National Aquarium Baltimore commenced. The design was given by Peter Chermayeff.

With a slight delay in the completion of the construction, the aquarium was finally ready and opened on August 8, 1981. In the first year, it witnessed around 1.6 million visitors, whereas the officials expected the figure to be around 600,000.

Interesting Facts

  • It is one of the country’s top three aquariums and is considered the largest paid attraction among tourists.
  • Unlike most other aquariums, it allows you to view, touch and pet more than 150 marine creatures, such as pulsing moon jellyfish or Atlantic stingrays.
  • It holds around 2,200,000 US gallons of water on its premises and has more than 750 different species of marine animals.
  • The aquarium has facilities for allowing families to do a sleepover within the premises for nominal pay. Sleeping with the fishes and waking up to them is a very vibrant experience.
  • There is a huge exhibit of 225,000 gallons just for shark alley. It feels like you have dived underwater with these beautiful water beasts.

Does National Aquarium Baltimore offer Free Admission?

There is a scope of free admission to the National Aquarium Baltimore under certain circumstances, as specified below:

  • If you are a paid member of the aquarium, then you have unlimited access.
  • The membership is categorized as individual, dual, family and ocean ambassador categories. You can avail of the membership pass for 1 to 8 members respectively. The membership pass permits the beholders free admission for one year.
  • The entrance will be on a priority basis, and you will also be invited to the members-only events hosted throughout the year.

There will be a 25% parking discount, 20% off on guest tickets, 20% discount on all tours & experiences and a 10% discount on the café, photo purchases and gift shop. Following that, the members also get digital cards upon their membership for contactless entry to the premises.

What are the ticket prices for National Aquarium Baltimore?

The prices for the tickets are as follows:

  • General Admission Youth (Ages 5 to 20): $39.95
  • General Admission Adults (Ages 21 to 69): $49.95
  • General Admission Senior Citizens (Ages 70+): $39.95

There will be no ticket charges for kids under four years of age.

The tickets are available for all-day access to all exhibits and daily presentations.

Admission to the National Aquarium of Baltimore is timed, so you have to make bookings for it by choosing your preferable time and data. If there’s a slot available, then you can also get your tickets on-site as well.

Are there any Discounts available on National Aquarium Baltimore Tickets?

At the time of writing this guide, there are special offers or discounts listed on the official platforms of National Aquarium Baltimore. But you can always check with the support team to get an idea of any available offers when booking your visit tickets.

For any form of assistance, you can get in touch with the representatives at the aquarium.

You can also call them at 410-659-4269. Remember, the calling times are from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week.

Are Gift Cards Available for National Aquarium Baltimore?

There are platforms, such as Gifty or GiftRocket, that offer National Aquarium Baltimore gift cards.

You can encash it for admission into the premises, at the restaurants, or the gift shop. You can either buy it for yourself or gift it to someone special on a memorable occasion.

What are the Animal Encounters at National Aquarium Baltimore?

Bearded dragon animal encounter
Bearded Dragon © National Aquarium Baltimore

The aquarium allows visitors to go for close encounters with the animal ambassadors. This aquarium has more than 20,000 aquatic animals and 750 different species.

1. Animal Encounter Event

This animal encounter event is an everyday activity that starts at 10:00 a.m. and lets you be close to the marine animals for about 20 minutes. The charges for this encounter are inclusive of the admission charges.

In this event, you will be going personally and up close to the Australian bearded dragon, Eastern box turtle, hyacinth macaw, or some other water animals. In the quest, you will get to learn a bit more about marine animals and the natural environment they prefer to live in.

2. Australia Fish Feeding

This encounter activity is hosted on select days of the week, which include Monday, Thursday and Sunday.

There are no additional charges for this encounter, as the price includes the admission charges. It is just a ten-minute event and mostly starts at 11:15 a.m. This event is hosted in Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit of the aquarium.

3. Puffin Talk

It is another daily animal encounter event hosted from 11:00 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. You don’t have to pay anything for it, as the price is included in the admission charges. It commences at the North Atlantic to the Pacific exhibit of the aquarium.

You will dive into puffins’ territory within the aquarium and watch them play around. They are called the parrots of the sea.

What are the Exhibits at National Aquarium Baltimore?

Amazon river forest caiman
Amazon River Caiman © National Aquarium Baltimore

National Aquarium Baltimore has a lot of award-winning exhibits within their premises. They have varieties of aquatic animals ranging from the Northern part of the Australian river to the Indo-Pacific reef and the tropical rainforest.

All of these species from various parts of the world are united within a massive aquarium property.

1. Atlantic Coral Reef

Atlantic Coral Reef has around 100 colorful and tropical fishes alongside other reef inhabitants. In this exhibit, you will see green moray eels and black nose sharks. It is a 13-foot exhibit with 335,000 gallons of water.

2. Australia: Wild Extremes

It is one of the most popular exhibits of the aquarium, where there are around 1000 animals of over 70 species. Visitors see crocodiles, snakes, lizards, turtles and much more. It properly replicates Australian rivers to make the aquatic animals feel at home.

3. Blacktip Reef

Blacktip Reef is one of the most liked and awarded exhibits of the National Aquarium Baltimore. The guests can experience a perfect replication of the Indo-Pacific reef.

There’s an underwater viewing section, which will give you some amazing sites of blacktip reef sharks. 630 animals of over 69 species swim peacefully within 270,000 gallons of water.

4. Dolphin Discovery

The largest exhibit of the National Aquarium Baltimore is Dolphin Discovery. It is home to six beautiful and adorable Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. There’s an amphitheater and an underwater viewing section where guests see these intelligent and amazingly playful creatures.

5. Shark Alley

Entering the Shark Alley, you will find yourself close to various shark species. When you finally learn about these creatures from the experts, you will realize how people have misunderstood these predators and defined them as a symbol of fear in the waters.

You will see the nurse shark, roughtail stingray, sand tiger shark and many more species.

What are the Live Cams at National Aquarium Baltimore?

National Aquarium Baltimore has several live cameras installed within its premises for you to explore what most marine animals are doing throughout the day when visitors are not around.

All cameras placed within various exhibits of the aquarium are active only during office hours, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

After this time, you can always enjoy the previously recorded livestream videos of various exhibits.

There are cameras at the Blacktip Reef, Jellies Invasion, and many other exhibits. Here’s the link for you to explore the livestream camera view of all the exhibits of the National Aquarium Baltimore.

What are the Learning Opportunities at National Aquarium Baltimore?

Chesapeake marsh gallery
Chesapeake Marsh Gallery © National Aquarium Baltimore

Along with some cherishing experiences of watching marine animals in their natural habitat, there’s a lot for visitors to learn before they head out home.

There are various education programs for students from the Baltimore area or other cities who want to learn and connect with the natural world.

From pre-K to high school, there are education programs for kids at all grade levels. The motto of these education programs is to inspire the kids to respect the natural world and the beings living in it.

1. Field Trip for Schools

Schools can get in touch with the National Aquarium administration to arrange a field trip to the entire premise. It will let the students explore the aquatic wonders of this world.

It will help them learn a bit more about conservation, as they will look up closely at various marine animals and their habitats and acquire other such information.

2. Animal Rescue Team: Seals

It is a single-day education program for students in grades 3 to 5. The charges are $150 per session, and it is broadcasted through private channels online.

If you want your kids or students to learn more about the animal rescue process of the National Aquarium, here is a program for them to learn how the aquarium’s staff helps injured and stranded marine animals, especially seals.

3. Aqua Partners

It is a long-term educational association of students from grades 3 to 5. The pricing varies for this educational program, and you need to contact the administration team for the same.

The classes will be offered at the main Aquarium Campus, your school, or a mutually decided location. It is mostly open for all public or private schools that are located within a one-hour travel time from the aquarium.

4. Aquarium Art: Making Exhibits Come to Life

It is a single-day educational program for kids in grades 9 through 12, with charges of $150 per session. It will be an online program that students can attend from their school auditorium or their respective houses. It is a 45-minute session, which 60 students can attend at once.

What are the Events at National Aquarium Baltimore?

Apart from giving you a closer glimpse into the world’s aquatic life, National Aquarium Baltimore also offers you some amazing backdrops to celebrate your special occasions with them.

Some of the common events for which the National Aquarium Baltimore openly receives bookings to their celebration houses include:

  • Corporate events
  • Weddings
  • Team-building sessions
  • Holiday parties
  • Get-togethers
  • Fundraising Goals
  • Meetings
  • Birthdays

Suppose you are interested in getting any of your special events hosted at the National Aquarium Baltimore. In that case, you have to fill out a request form to check the availability of the celebration or event houses.

Following that, you can make the reservation. Some of the venue options out here are:

Pier 3- Blue Wonders

It is an underwater event venue to give guests an unforgettable experience. It is home to more than thousands of aquatic beings who will also be taking part in your celebrations.

Pier 4- Marine Mammal Pavilion

What’s better than hosting your event amidst the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and the jellies? On booking this venue, your guests will be given the tour of Blue Wonders 45 minutes before the start of your event.

Harbor View Room

This venue gives you a glamorous view of the Inner Harbor of Baltimore and the Federal Hill. It is an intimate space ideal for small gatherings or meetings.

What are the Dining Options at the National Aquarium Baltimore?

Pier 3 Café

It is the largest café of National Aquarium Baltimore, which is on the ground floor of the Pier 3 building, right next to the main entrance.

It is open throughout the year and is especially known for its house-made chicken tenders, smash burgers, coffee, draft beer, sandwiches and many more delicious dishes.

Harbor Market Café

If you are at the Jellies Invasion or Dolphin Discovery exhibits, and it is already lunch hours, Harbor Market Café has some mouth-watering dishes to satisfy your taste buds. It is open daily for sandwiches, pizzas, cheese, salads, popcorn, mac, drinks, pretzels and much more.

Harbor View Room

Harbor View Room is available for dine-in, mostly from Friday to Sunday, and even on select weekdays when there are no private bookings for the venue. You will get bar-style snacks and food items, with a variety of beverage options. There is seating available for you to dine in.

Is there a Gift Shop at National Aquarium Baltimore?

You can never get enough of National Aquarium Baltimore. So, to cherish this memory forever or to pass on this nature vibe to someone you love, you can buy merchandise or a memento from the aquarium’s gift shop.

The National Aquarium Gift Shop is located at Level 1 of Blue Wonders. Here, you will get aquarium-merchandised clothing, souvenirs, toys, books, jewelry and much more. There are some astounding designs of jellies, sharks, sea turtles and others on various products.

They also have an online store for their gift shop that allows you to buy the National Aquarium souvenirs from the comfort of your home.

How Big is National Aquarium Baltimore?

The National Aquarium Baltimore is spread across a land of 250,000 square feet and has several levels and floors across its premises.

For a new visitor, it’s quite obvious that you will face difficulty in moving around the premises. Therefore, you can explore the map of the aquarium to find the restrooms, fountains, dining stations, exhibits and much more.

If not, you can also collect a printed version of the map from the Information Desk, which is located on Level 1, Blue Wonders.

How to Reach National Aquarium Baltimore?

What are the Directions for National Aquarium Baltimore?

This place is easily accessible by all public and private transportation facilities within the city.

How to reach National Aquarium Baltimore By Train?

Take Amtrak and get down at Penn Station: 1500 N. Charles Street. It is only 1.06 miles away from the National Aquarium.

Take Light Rail and get down at the Convention Centre or Camden Yards Light Rail stations.

How to reach National Aquarium Baltimore By Bus?

Take the bus lines CityLink Navy, CityLink Yellow, CiryLink Brown, LocalLink 65 and LocalLink 54 to reach the National Aquarium.

Where is the Parking for National Aquarium Baltimore?

There are three official aquarium parking partners around the site which are:

  • Harbor Park Garage
  • LAZ Inner Harbor Garage
  • Parkway Lockwood Place Garage

These garages have special occasion discount offers for regular guests and a mandatory discount for the members. The guests and the members are requested to get their parking tickets validated within the Aquarium to get the discount.

There is a specific early-bird discount on parking for people who come to park and visit the aquarium before 9:00 a.m. If you are an early bird, then you cannot avail of the discounts using the parking ticket, as it will revoke the parking discounts you already availed.

What are the Hotels Near National Aquarium Baltimore?

The Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore (Best Rated Hotel)

Distance: 0.3 miles

It is located in a very prime site in the area and is close to not just the National Aquarium but also the Baltimore Museum of Art. The guest rooms are very spacious, and the luxury suites are astoundingly comfortable.

Baltimore Marriott Waterfront (Best Luxurious Hotel)

Distance: 0.3 miles

Living at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel gives you unparalleled access to the National Aquarium, Felis Point and the plethora of shops and restaurants of Inner Harbor. The accommodations here have been redesigned to offer water views of the harbor and the skyline of Baltimore.

Staybridge Suites Baltimore (Best Budgeted Hotel)

Distance: 0.24 miles

If you are looking for an affordable place to stay, which is also close to the National Aquarium, then Staybridge Suites is one of the best picks for you. They have modern, clean and very spacious rooms and suites.

It is perfect for leisure or corporate travelers for a short or extended vacation. You get all the basic amenities within the premises, and the rooms are also pet friendly.

Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel (Hotel with the Best View)

Distance: 0.18 miles

Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel is part of Marriott Hotels which is an iconic place for you to spend your vacation days at Inner Harbor. They have lavish rooms with all the comfort amenities.

Lord Baltimore Hotel (Best Seller Hotel)

Distance: 0.5 miles

It is the best seller hotel in all of Baltimore, which is popularly known for its architectural and historical significance. The lobby of this hotel features a giant piano, oil paintings, a fresco ceiling, a Murano chandelier, polished brass and many more elegant inclusions.

What are the Restaurants Near National Aquarium Baltimore?

Fogo de Chao (Best for Brazilian Food)

Distance: 0.1 miles

The restaurant is keeping the centuries-old churrasco cooking technique alive. It is the art of roasting high-quality meat cuts over an open flame. They have a very great cultural dining setup and can accommodate around 400 guests at one time.

Blackwall Hitch Baltimore (Best for Seafood)

Distance: 0.2 miles

If you are fond of seafood, then Blackwall Hitch Baltimore is the go-to place for you around the National Aquarium. It boasts an upscale coastal dine-in setup and delivers a heightened East Coast experience.

The Capital Grille (Best Steakhouse)

Distance: 0.16 miles

The Capital Grille is an experience of comfort and elegance. You will get to cherish the African mahogany with the decorative chandeliers. They are known for their delicious steaks, fresh seafood and world-class wines.

Hard Rock Café (Best American Dishes)

Distance: 0.1 miles

If you are craving the delicious flavors of American dishes, then Hard Rock Café is your one-stop hub for the same. They have various house-made entrées spiced up with local flavors. They have the best burgers and desserts that will surely please your taste buds.

Azumi (Best Japanese Food)

Distance: 0.6 miles

Azumi, the restaurant in Baltimore, is named after a Japanese girl’s name, which means safe harbor. They believe this name is a perfect fit for the comfort, warmth and style they boast around the premises for their customers.

What are the Attractions Near National Aquarium Baltimore?

Once you have toured the National Aquarium in Baltimore, you don’t have to feel like you are done for the rest of your vacation days. There are a lot of attractions around the site for you to explore and enjoy. Here are five nearby attractions that would interest you:

National Historic Seaport of Baltimore

Distance: 0.4 miles

It is one of the oldest seaports in America, which is more than 300 years old. It is a byway that connects Baltimore to many historic communities on the waterfront. It is today managed by a non-profit educational organization, Living Classrooms Foundation.

USS Torsk

Distance: 0.02 miles

A fleet-style submarine built in the year 1944, it was designed specifically for World War II. After serving its time as a patrol around Japan’s coast during World War II, it came to the Inner Harbor of Baltimore on 4th March 1968.

In 1972, it was declared a memorial and museum. Throughout its career, USS Torsk has been part of over 10,600 dives, both during peace and war.

Top of the World Observation Level

Distance: 0.5 miles

It is a sightseeing activity spot, which is located on the 27th floor of the World Trade Centre. It gives a crisp view of the skylines and a beautiful glimpse at the city’s architecture. Get a majestic glimpse at the invisible cities, the harbor line, National Aquarium and much more.

Inner Harbor Paddle Boats

Distance: 0.8 miles

This is an activity spot where you get to sail around the harbor lines of Baltimore in paddle boats. It is a romantic and fun activity if you are out with your partner.

Even if you are traveling alone, take a few minutes out on these boats to enjoy the scenic paradise of the city while wandering on the harbor waters.

The Walters Art Museum

Distance: 1.3 miles

It is a public art museum that has existed since 1934 and is one of the best attractions around Baltimore. It has some amazing collections that have been established since the mid-19th century.

The collection of this museum was amassed by William Walters and Henry Walters, father and son in relation.

What are the Working Options at the National Aquarium Baltimore?

National Aquarium Baltimore offers both full-time and part-time job opportunities. Starting from animal care to administration jobs, there are many opportunities available for candidates with qualifications and skills of all types.

Some of the current job openings at the National Aquarium Baltimore are as follows:

  • Summer Camp Instructor
  • Traveling Camp EMT/RN
  • Director of Animal Care
  • Aquarist
  • Guest Engagement Aide
  • Vice President, Financial Operations
  • Guest Services Specialist
  • Reservationist
  • Habitat Production Manager
  • Veterinary Technician
  • Executive Office Coordinator
  • Veterinary Fellow
  • Director of Guest Management
  • Director of Guest Services
  • Assistant Marine Mammal Trainer

There are many more opportunities out there, and it keeps updating on a timely basis. To get more details about the available job opportunities, check out this link.

Does National Aquarium Baltimore Accept Donations?

The Aquarium gets a lot of donation requests from various community non-profit organizations. They use these donations to help other non-profits and use it for maintaining the quality of life for aquatic beings.

Donations are not accepted in exchange for animal interactions, behind-the-scenes tours and memberships. You can raise a request to donate an amount to the aquarium in exchange for organizing some of your events. You can apply here.

What are the Reviews of National Aquarium Baltimore?

The National Aquarium is one of the greatest attractions in all of Baltimore. The visitors who have been to the aquarium have left awestruck reviews about its elegance and appeal. You can read what others are saying about this place at TripAdvisor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is National Aquarium Baltimore?

National Aquarium Baltimore is located at 501 E, Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21202, USA.

Is National Aquarium Baltimore free?

No, National Aquarium Baltimore is not free and needs ticket access. It is free only for kids below four years of age and guests with paid membership.

How much are the tickets for National Aquarium Baltimore?

The ticket costs range from $39.95 to $49.95 depending on age. It is free for kids under the age of 4.

How big is National Aquarium Baltimore?

National Aquarium Baltimore is spread across 250,000 square feet of land and has a water capacity of 2,200,000 US gallons. It has over 20,000 aquatic animals of over 750 species, which makes it one of the largest aquariums in the world.

How long to spend at the National Aquarium Baltimore?

You just need two to three hours to get an all-round experience of the National Aquarium Baltimore. If you are with your children, then they might get tired earlier, making you leave the aquarium tour mid-way.

Where to park at National Aquarium Baltimore?

There are three official garages that partnered with National Aquarium Baltimore; they are LAZ Inner Harbor Garage, Parkway Lockwood Place Garage and Harbor Park Garage.

How much is National Aquarium Baltimore parking?

If you take up two-hour parking on your visit to the National Aquarium, it will cost you only $19. There might be a price variation, depending on the different garages you head out for the parking.

Is the National Aquarium Baltimore worth it?

Yes, the National Aquarium Baltimore is worth your time and experience. If you are fond of aquatic life and the god’s beautiful creations in the face of these water creatures, then you will find it worth a while.

Other Nearby Aquariums

A word from FishInAquarium

So, this was a complete guide for you to visit the National Aquarium Baltimore, with all important insights at the tip of your fingers. You now know how to reach the place, where to book a hotel room, where to eat, and where to park your cars at ease.

Following that, you are now aware of the education programs, exhibits, and animal encounters, which will help enhance your overall aquarium experience. So, we hope this information comes in handy for you to get around the National Aquarium at ease.

Minnie B Miller - Professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium

About Minnie B Miller

Minnie B. Miller, a professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium, has over 8 years of expertise in fish breeding and care, gained through her roles at AquaticTX and Sea Lion Landing. Having honed her skills with various aquatic species, she is dedicated to empowering fellow enthusiasts by sharing her knowledge and experience.