I have to admit, I had a bit of a shock at the Virginia Aquarium.
I went to the aquarium (formerly called Virginia Marine Science Center) expecting to get in for free, using my ASTC Passport Program membership (which gives you free admission to participating science museums around the nation).
Oops. Despite the “science” in the name, Virginia Aquarium (I’ll call it “The VA”) is really considered an aquarium (gee, maybe that’s why they changed the name?). So my ASTC membership didn't work. (But it DOES work at 600 other museums around the country, so click here to learn more about how it can save you money.)
But I soon realized that, for what it offers, Virginia Aquarium is well worth the price if you like top-notch aquariums.
At $21 for adults, it's about 35% less than the price of the Baltimore Aquarium, and about 50% less than Georgia's.
(Plus, I’ve since learned how to save on tickets. See below…)
So does The VA hold its own with other fishy museums? Absolutely.
My favorite part? Their mesmerizing, two-story, floor to ceiling fish “wall.” The rest of the room and floor is dark.
|© 2012-2013 angelawrightphotography.com |
Sit there quietly, and you can imagine you're at the bottom of the sea. It's amazingly relaxing to watch the fish swim gently by, and feel your cares wash away.
Look at this photo by angelawrightphotography.com. (It's way better than any of my pictures of the tank!) Angela, the photographer, visited with her then 16-month-old son. She says he "was in awe of the sea turtle exhibit. He had no idea what he was looking at but he liked knocking on the glass (he can't read the no knocking signs and his mother was busy taking pics) and they seemed to give him more attention. He cried when I carried him off."
Most kids are mesmerized by the tank. (By the way, Angela calls this photo "Give me some skin duuude..." It looks like her son and the turtle are giving each other a "high five," and the turtle reminds her of the "surfer dude" turtle in "Finding Nemo.)
You'll find enough to keep you (and the kids) occupied for hours. And on a hot day, it's blissfully air-conditioned.
The Virginia Aquarium experience doesn’t stop at its walls. They also offer a variety of truly unique “extra” programs you’ll find it hard to match at even top hotel resorts and other vacation attractions:
Virginia Aquarium has “a la carte” pricing.
Just the exhibits: Adults: $21; Seniors: $20; Children (3-11): $15
Exhibits + IMAX: Adults: $27; Seniors: $26; Children (3-11): $21
IMAX Only*:Adults: $9; Seniors: $8.50; Children (3-11): $8.
*Note that feature length IMAX tickets may be extra.
Military Discount:Active military (but not their families or guests) get 10% off combination tickets (admission + IMAX® movie) with military ID.
Group discounts are available for groups of 15 or more by calling (757) 385-0300.
Hours:Daily – 9 am to 6 pm. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Want to get in for less?
Last time I checked, Vacation Market had a Virginia Aquarium “Happy Hour” coupon on the bottom of its brochures. The coupon allows you to buy one ticket and get the second one at 50% off if purchased between Noon and 2 pm (good daily).
Or, check out the Visitor guides— like the “Sunny Day Guide.” You'll find them at restaurants, hotels, and in stands along Atlantic Boulevard and Virginia Beach. They often have coupons good for $2 off a combo ticket, or $1 off exhibit admission.
One of the best things about Virginia Aquarium is that it is so convenient to the Virginia Beach oceanfront, thanks to the Virgnia Beach Trolley, also know as "The Wave."
You can catch The Wave from various stops along the oceanfront and stop right outside the museum.
The Virginia Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard in Virginia Beach. For information, call 757-385-FISH (3474) or go to www.virginiaaquarium.com.
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