The National Aquarium in Baltimore is wonderful, but it’s out of the question for a day trip. The solution: The Adventure Aquarium in Camden. It’s an easy outing and if your kids are into sharks, it is one of the best places to see them in our area.
The aquarium’s Shark Realm is about as close as you can come to swimming with the creatures without getting wet. The tank has a tunnel running through it, allowing the sharks to swim up to, over and around you. There’s even a shark touch tank! While the Liberty Science Center emphasizes the water wildlife of the Hudson River and Jersey shore, the Adventure Aquarium will take you on a trip around the world, from the Caribbean to the South Pacific. Definitely plan to stop at Irazu Falls. I’m not saying any more than that.
If you’ve been to the Adventure Aquarium before, you’ll want to plan a trip back sometime after June 18, when it opens a tropical water exhibit, the Stingray Beach Club. There will be palm trees, more waterfalls and the opportunity to hand-feed and mingle with stingrays.
Camden remains the headquarters of Campbell Soup, but it is not much of a tourist destination. If your kids are fascinated by military things too, the Battleship New Jersey sits on the same stretch of harbor as the aquarium. Or you can combine the aquarium with a day trip to Philadelphia across the Delaware. The aquarium operates a river shuttle that takes you across for just $2 per person, so you don’t even need to move the car. Once you leave the Turnpike, the roadways are fairly well marked, but definitely not scenic. Use the map below for door-to-door directions.
The aquarium’s online ticket option, a big time saver, is offline right now, but keep checking back. Alas, the Adventure Aquarium is not a cheap thrill, but I don’t know of a single aquarium that is. If you are going to be spending the weekend in the area, definitely get a CityPass, which lets you in to things on both sides of the Delaware for a very reasonable price.
One other tip: Skip the aquarium’s cafeteria and bring your own cooler. You can’t bring it inside, but you can get it from the car at lunch time and picnic on the benches along the river. Just be sure to save your ticket stub so you can get back in.