The boys and I recently took advantage of a school holiday to visit with the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. It had been quite some time since we were last there so we were excited to be returning. Even better we were going with some of our best friends too. It was a field trip play date of sorts and what a fun day we had.
Since I do have a tendency to ramble ;). I’ll try to control myself and just share the highlights from each area of the aquarium. If you have any questions later, feel free to post them in the comments.
Adventure Zone A – is on the main level. It is the first area you encounter once you step off the escalator or leave the elevators.
- Caribbean Currents
- Ocean Realm Theater– 2 or 3 times a day you can participate in an interactive show with deep-sea divers as they feed the sharks, rays, and other aquatic life. The seating is elevated so there are no bad seats. While we unfortunately missed out on seeing a show, the theater is open all day for your viewing pleasure. The large glass window provides a great opportunity to view aquatic life coexisting together.
- Touch-A-Shark – This has to be our favorite area in Zone A. My boys loved hearing the interesting shark facts from the aquarium staff and getting a chance to touch the sharks.
Adventure Zone B – Venture forward from Zone Aand you’ll enter the Rotunda of Zone B. This in itself is an incredible area. The tile floor is embedded with fossils and a school of sculptured fish rotate above. My sons were so captivated by this they just had to lay down and stare up at it.
- Outdoor Exhibits– The penguins and the seals can both be seen outdoors. Above ground or swimming below the water, the Adventure Aquarium has a viewing area for both. Regardless of what these animals are up to you’ll be able to catch them at it. The Aquarium staff also offers times during the day to see the animals feeding or getting ready for bed.
- Stingray Beach Club– Personally, this was one of my favorite areas of the aquarium. Not only is there an enormous sting ray pool to pet the sting rays, but there is also a little water play area for younger children to enjoy. I appreciate that the sting ray pool was large enough to accommodate all the children there visiting that day. (Check it out, my boys upclose and personal with the stingrays.)
- 4D Theater – We did not have an opportunity to visit this area. For an additional charge you can see a show during your visit.
Adventure Zone C – is on the 2nd level. It is accessible by stairs at both ends of the floor and an elevator located in Zone A (on the main level, not the main elevator.)
- Creature Lab -This is a very child-friendly area with many many spots for some great photos. (Just check out our album.) There were areas for the kids to crawl and explore, signage designed to educate and appeal to kids, and more touch tanks.
Adventure Zone D – is located to the left side of the building. It’s a bi-level area. You can reach it from the escalators at the main entrance or by walking through the cafeteria. It’s an area you don’t want to miss.
- Hippos – This might just be my favorite area of the aquarium. It’s not that I’m a big hippo fan, because I’m not. But with all our visits to aquariums and zoos, I have yet to have an experience where I can see hippos swimming underwater. The Adventure Aquarium hippo area, named The West African River Experience is huge. Hippos may share the area with their winged friends, but it is the hippos swimming that you will find impressive. When I brought our friends back to this area, I was fortunate enough to catch the Venture with Africa show. Did you know that hippos can be very territorial and aggressive? Not me, but now you know why you won’t see staff swimming in their tank. How odd that it’s safer to swim with sharks than hippos.
- Jules Verne– This is a beautiful area sure to please the adults. The layout and design might have you believe you are in an art gallery. Only here the works of art are aquatic life.
- Shark Realm – One last impressive area that will blow you away. Walk through a tunnel of sharks or just stand in front of the immense tank, there will be a multitude of sharks of every variety and size swimming about.
Cafe– The Cafe is located on the main level between Zone A and D. On this trip we did not visit the cafe. Instead, because we were visiting as a group, we took advantage of the lunch rooms on the lower level.
Gift Shop– The gift shop is located at the far left end of Zone D. If you travel through Zone D you will encounter the gift shop as you exit. You can also reach it directly by walking through the Cafe and bypassing Zone D. I found the gift shop to be quite spacious and with an ample selection of gifts for every budget. Since my middle son did an excellent job following directions, he was rewarded with a great story about sharks that was only $5.
Other things families might want to know – I found, even with the busy crowd, I had enough space to maneuver my stroller around. There are lockers available at the main entrance for storing coats and lunches. There are bathrooms on every level. For nursing moms, there is a Nursing Station located near the 4D Theater in Zone B.
While the aquarium has ample parking (for a fee) available, it is a considerable walk from the lot to the main entrance. If you are visiting in colder weather, you’ll want to dress appropriately. Keep in mind that because the Adventure Aquarium is right on the water it will be windier and chillier than inland areas.
Other thoughts – We really enjoyed our trip to the Adventure Aquarium. Yet, it felt like something was missing. In years past, there were many many more opportunities for visitors to witness staff at their best. The shows happened more frequently throughout the day and I seem to remember educational skits that taught the children about the food chain and such.
That being said what we missed in shows, Adventure Aquarium made up for in opportunities to get up close and personal with marine life. With the wall-size glass tanks, we couldn’t have been any closer unless we were in the tanks. ;) In every zone, there was an opportunity to touch, climb, or examine something. Oh yeah, the kids had a blast. =D And so will your family when you visit.
Check out our other reviews of family attractions in our Field Trip Friday series.