There’s so much to sea and do at the New York Aquarium

Ocean Wonders: Sharks! & the NEW Spineless Exhibits are two of our favorites

By Melissa Wudzki, Publisher, Toms River Macaroni Kid & Macaroni Kid Point Pleasant August 30, 2021

Opportunities for quality time with my daughter come easy, but finding things to do with my thirteen-year-old son that we can enjoy together takes a little more work. As we started the drive to the New York Aquarium, I could hear him and his friend talking in the backseat about all the exhibits they couldn’t wait to check out. I knew I had chosen right when I planned this day together. 

The New York Aquarium is the only aquarium in NYC and the oldest continually operating one in the United States. It’s located in Brooklyn, right near Coney Island. With over 500 species of marine wildlife, there was so much to see, but here are our five favorite things from our visit! 

Ocean Wonder: Sharks! Exhibit

It was tough to pick what the boys’ favorite exhibit was, but if my son had to pick, this would be it. When you enter this award-winning exhibit, you walk through an amazing tunnel that makes you feel as if you are underwater. The exhibit has over 115 species, many of which can all be found in local New York waters and you are basically surrounded by them. It was very cool! I think the boys were amazed by the different sized sharks all in the same tank together. There were interactive touch screens for us to learn about specific species, plus a really cool display where you could feel different sharks’ teeth! 

Aquatheater - Sea Lion Show

When we arrived at the aquarium, the attendant let us know what time the next sea lion show would be, so we could plan our visit. The sea lion show takes place in the aquarium’s Aquatheater and was my favorite part of the day. Nikki and Kirk were the hosts for our session and gave a great demonstration about how we can all work together to keep the ocean healthy. We got to meet Townsend, Bruiser, and Pickles, two of the aquarium’s sea lions and a harbor seal. The interaction between the trainers and sea lions was amazing and so much fun to watch!

Conservation Hall

When you enter the aquarium, you walk through Conservation Hall. There are amazing displays of the most beautiful coral reef. Of course, my son is never too old to enjoy a good Nemo and Dory sighting - there were clownfish and blue tang on hand to check out! We learned how the New York Aquarium is protecting endangered fish by breeding fish like the Bedotia, with hopes to reintroduce the fish they breed to their natural habitat, like the lakes of Madagascar.


The New York Aquarium’s newest exhibit, Spineless, is home to wildly wonderful invertebrates such as the Pacific octopus, moon jellies, and zombie worms. The boys may have laughed a little too loudly when we got to a display called Silly Names, Important Roles. With names like Christmas Tree Work, Egg Yolk Jelly, Ping Pong Tree Sponge, and the Pigbutt Worm, who could blame them. The Japanese Spider Crab is one of the coolest parts of this exhibit and was very exciting to learn about.

Sea Cliffs

Outside of Conservation Hall, we found ourselves face to face with the most adorable, in my opinion, guests of the New York Aquarium - the penguins, sea otters, sea lions, and harbor seals. The sea otters are amazing to watch swim and wiggle their furry bodies. You can hear the bark of the sea lions and even catch a penguin feeding, if you are lucky! 

Quality time with my son was a success! He and I both loved the New York Aquarium. We also learned a lot about doing our part to help protect the water we live near! Bonus...instead of being glued to his phone for the car ride home, we talked about all of our favorite things from the day! 

If you are looking for a fun outing for the day with the family, plan a trip to the New York Aquarium. Here are some things to remember for your trip:

  • WHEN YOU ARRIVE - use to see that day’s available exhibits and amenities.
  • HAND SANITIZER: Hand sanitizer is available at all entrances and throughout the park near food/retail and exhibit areas.
  • PLEASE BE AWARE that there will be limited seating at the Aquatheater. Try to get into the first showing of the day! 
  • EXPECT SOME CHANGES. To ensure safe and healthy experiences for the community, changes to exhibits and park operations will happen as needed. The aquarium will provide advance notice when possible, but adjustments may also be due to unforeseen conditions. THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING IF SOME EXHIBITS/ANIMALS ARE NOT AVAILABLE ON THE DAY YOU CHOOSE TO VISIT.
  • MASKS ARE REQUIRED FOR YOUR VISIT. Consistent with NY City/State and CDC guidance, MASKS ARE REQUIRED INDOORS* FOR ALL GUESTS over the age of 2 years, regardless of vaccination status. All guests are also required to wear masks when in the Aquatheater. Unvaccinated guests over the age of 2 years are also required to wear a mask at all outdoor areas where social distancing cannot be maintained. Face coverings remain optional for vaccinated guests in outdoor areas. *Arrival to the Aquarium is an indoor building. Masks are required for admission to the park. Indoor locations also include exhibits, restrooms and gift shops.

We received complimentary admission to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.