National Aquarium Baltimore – Black Tip Reef Exhibit

“Finally, my bum can get out of this sweat den!” exclaimed Fluffy as we parked the car after the long drive up to Baltimore.  The National Aquarium has completely changed their enormous ray tank into Black Tip Reef, a reproduction of what one might see on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  A-mazing.

Try this outing tips at the end.


The new exhibit is a sharknado of awesomeness that the family couldn’t get enough of.  We are considering changing our family creed from “in pursuit of happiness” to “Live every week like it was shark week.”

shark week

The drive is a little long to get there, so it’s tempting to say “Since we made the trip, we must see every creature in this enormous complex while we’re here!”  But that never pays off for us.  The little guys just don’t have it in them to ride that far, then walk (no strollers allowed) that far, then ride that far again if we try to take the whole thing in.  So this time, we went for the sharks.  Which is creapier, that tank full of sharks, or the psycho smile Fluff is giving?


We managed to find a moment for the lion fish tank as well.  This family favorite was a strong Peppers favorite this visit.  He wanted to stay there the whole time and had to be dragged away kicking and screaming.  I wish I were exaggerating.   How long does 2 last?

peppers and the lion fishlion fish and peppers

If you can make it up all the escalators in the main building, there is a picnic and observation room where you can stop off to eat your snacks before heading down the Atlantic reef and shark spiral.  Fluffy later told us her favorite part of the museum was this room where the kids “hung out”.

hanging roomhanging room 2

We popped in for a quick peek at the jellies on the way out, and are so glad we did.  I don’t remember seeing these blue polka-dot numbers before.  Gorgeous.

blue jelly fish

And then we went outside and had our picture taken by a kind stranger.  You can see we are wearing our aqua’s to the aqua-rium.  Can’t say my life isn’t rich with meaning.



Try this outing:

Difficulty Level:  Very Difficult.  The museum has a strict no stroller policy; a tricky multi-building floorplan, and a lot of very dark exhibits for kids to run away and get lost in.  Do not try this museum three-on-one until the kids are old enough to walk the whole time and really stay with you.

  • No strollers means bring a baby carrier or two, and at least a backpack.  There is a stroller check and locker rental, so more money for them.
  • New black tip reef exhibit is awesome!  Worth another trip if it wasn’t open when you last went.
  • The dolphin show (now called “training”) is no longer at specific times.  I tried calling and looking online, but they all insist you must now go straight to the dolphin exhibit when you get there and ask them when the training will be on that particular day.  Good news is, the show is now included with admission.
  • You can still scuba dive in Atlantic reef tank!  Kent bought me this adventure for my birthday 4 years ago.  It was great although the zebra shark freaked me out!  It used to include diving in the ray tank with the zebra shark as well, but I think they ended that practice when they turned it into black tip reef.
  • The frogs are so fabulous if your kids have the patience and vision to search for them.  This book is a great preparation: Frogs.
  • If you take the paddle boats in the harbor next door and it’s just you paddling several kids around, stay local.  It’s a real work out.

Fluffy Fun Factor (Preschooler rating):   Super Fun!  “I loved every, every part of it!”  About the dragon paddle boats next door, “I thought there would be more fun things and games for us to play, so I didn’t really have that much fun.”


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