Exploring: National Aquarium
Since the weather is getting chilly and indoor activities are going to be a hot topic, I thought I’d flash back to some exploring we did in August with Stu’s mom. DC’s hidden gem, the National Aquarium—DC.
I used to think Baltimore had the only National aquarium, having been there on a work trip many moons ago. The Baltimore aquarium is AMAZING (we will be making the drive up there in the near future). Almost as great at the one in Monterey, CA. Yeah, I’m a bit of a fish junkie…really anything with animals is something I’ll be going out of my way to see.
Anyway, I’d known about the other little fishy haven in the basement of the Commerce building—yep the real Commerce building—for over a year and somehow hadn’t made it. So when we picked up Stu’s mom, Linda, at the airport early one August morning, I thought we’d just pop over and check it out!
Please excuse the photography…the whole place is really dark and low light is my nemesis.
Front and center were these little guys at which Ethan yelled “A-gah-ta!” Don’t be alarmed, there is glass all the way up to the ceiling, it just looks as if those hungry dudes could jump out at any moment.
As mentioned before, the whole place is like a cave—really dark, arranged in a big loop, with tanks on both sides. A place you could let your toddler roam without worrying they will get into trouble or slip too far away. We were there on a week day so it was nice and quiet.
I was really impressed with the tank designs. I know, not something on which I’m well educated, but even a lay person could see some of these tanks were almost like art.
There were sharks, a huge octopus, giant freshwater rays, super scary snapping turtles, eels, and everything you can imagine.
My favorite part? Because the place is so quaint, staff is available to answer questions and give you fun info about the aquarium. We learned from one staffer that this is the oldest aquarium in the country and that they have to be evacuated from time to time when the Commerce Department gets strange mail. I actually witnessed one of these evacuations during the summer—fire trucks, street shut down, and hazmat suits. Yikes!
The admission is $9.95 for adults, kids under 3 are free. Meter parking is usually very pretty easy but it’s very Metro accessible too. And if you are up for a short walk after your fishy visit, the White House, monuments, mall and Smithsonian museums are all within a few blocks. Lots of lunch places too!
Ethan is not quite old enough, but the aquarium offers a very fun sounding “Tots & Tales” on every first and third Friday of each month. If you go to this, please tell us about it!
We will be making frequent trips here this winter, I’m sure.
One thing I recommend checking before you visit is the feeding schedule. They feed alligators, piranhas, and sharks at certain times and they are bound to be interesting! And though the National Aquarium does have an octopus, I didn’t see octopus feeding on the calendar, which is bummer because check out what happens at the National Zoo octopus feeding…
Doesn’t it look like we are about to be eaten??! I’m not completely crazy about the DC Zoo (I’m spoiled by the St. Louis Zoo) but their octopus, Pandora, is incredible. She lives in the Invertebrate House and she’s fed at 11am every day and it is worth the effort to be there…she puts on quite a show.
What is your favorite winter indoor activity? What’s your favorite aquarium?