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Family Activity: 5-Tips for Mystic Aquarium

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Mystic Aquarium is a great place to visit and take your kids. It makes a perfect family vacation. Below I will share my top 5 tips to make the trip successful!

My kids love anything when it comes to animals, zoos, farms, or aquariums. They especially are loving aquariums right now. Ever since I showed them a video of beluga whales, they have been asking to go see them. The only place in New England where you can see beluga whales is at the Mystic Aquarium in Stonington, Connecticut. Mystic Aquarium offers a unique and captivating experience that's perfect for families looking to explore the wonders of the underwater world. With a wide range of aquatic life, interactive exhibits, and educational presentations, a visit to Mystic Aquarium guarantees a day of excitement and learning. It's an easy driving distance from any location in the Northeast. Plan on spending 2-3 hrs to see the entire Aquarium.

This is the entrance to Mystic Aquarium

entrance to mystic aquarium

Mystic Aquarium is open year-round, making it a great option any time of the year. They have indoor and outdoor exhibits so be sure to dress for the weather. Some outdoor exhibits are limited in winter months so check ahead before going. Here are my top 5 tips for Mystic Aquarium to make this a fun family activity and a successful family visit to Mystic Aquarium.

5 Tips for Mystic Aquarium

Tip #1 - Arrive Early

The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the early bird beats the crowd. If you do arrive early you can beat the crowds and plan out the exhibits you see around the Sea Lion show (more about that later). You can also plan your itinerary around these activities and ensure you don't miss out on any of the highlights. We saw most people arrive after 11. When you purchase tickets you select a time frame that you want to enter the Aquarium. There are set times - you can pick from either.. 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, etc. We found out that if you select 11 am you can enter no earlier than 10:30 am. That is good to know when selecting a time slot.

Arriving early has its perks. You'll beat the crowds, allowing your family to enjoy the exhibits with ease and take your time exploring each one. This is especially important if you have younger children who might get overwhelmed in busy environments. Early arrival also provides you with more time to take part in interactive activities and presentations, ensuring a well-rounded experience.

Tip #2 - Don't miss the Sea Lion show!

We absolutely loved the Sea Lion show! I was not prepared for how amazing it was. Every year they change the show a little bit. When we went they were celebrating 50 years of Mystic Aquarium. The sea lions were putting on a big celebration for the 50-year birthday! The show had 4 sea lions and talked about the importance of not using single-use plastics. The kids had so much fun!

To find the Foxwoods Marine Theater you take the stairs next to the ray touch pool building right by the main entrance. The theater opens 20 mins before each show and they will stop entry if the theater gets full. The show's run time is 30 minutes. I suggest getting there early for seats. Sit anywhere, you don't have to worry about getting splashed the sea lions don't splash the audience.

sea lion show preforming

Tip #3 - Feed the cownose rays

The Aquarium has a ray pool near the main entrance that is included in the cost of your ticket. However, if you want to increase your experience with the rays I highly suggest purchasing food to feed them! You need to purchase food before entering the Ray building. You can purchase food right across from the entrance to the Ray experience. When we visited it was $3 for each serving of food. I suggest purchasing 1 for each person who wants to feed the rays. The food will entice the rays to come up to you. If you don't want to spend the extra money you will still have a great time!

Be prepared you might get splashed, the rays got us quite wet during our encounter. After you touch or feed the rays, you will want to wash your hands. It's great that inside the building they have hand sanitizer and paper towels. Feeding the rays definitely enhanced our experience with the rays.

kid with hand in water with rays

Tip #4 - The shark touch pool is very popular

When you first enter the Main Gallery there is an additional touch pool right in the middle of the gallery. At first, it looks like the line is very long, however, entry is timed. They let in about 20 people at a time and give each group about 2 minutes to touch the animals. The water is too deep to touch the rays they have on the bottom. The only way you can touch them is if they were to swim up the sides, which was a bummer for our younger children. The main draw is the baby shark we got to touch that was swimming on the top.

The tank is a figure 8 shape, and the best place to stand is where the sides come in ( the middle). We were standing at the bottom of the figure 8 and the shark only came around infrequently. You have a better chance to touch if you stand in the middle section of the figure 8. It is a wonderful opportunity to get to touch a baby shark. Something the family and I fully enjoyed.

baby shark tank with girls hand in it

Tip #5 - You can leave the Aquarium and re-enter

You can't bring lunch into the Aquarium, but they do allow you to bring water bottles. We ate lunch at the Saltwater Café inside the Aquarium. The Café had good burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, and great fries! They also had a great children's menu for $8 that got you get a choice of burger or chicken plus a fruit cup. The only real downside to eating at the Café was that it took a while to get our food.

If you do not want to eat inside the Aquarium you can exit through the gift shop and re-enter at a later time the same day. Just make sure you get your hand stamped before leaving. This is great if your little one needs to nap or you want to stop and grab lunch outside the Aquarium. There are quite a number of restaurants close by including Mango's Wood-Fired Pizza Co and Jealous Monk both of which have great kid's menus.

After our fun-filled day at the aquarium, it left us inspired to learn more about sea animals and their habitats. This was a terrifically fun family activity and it's something we would definitely recommend. A visit to Mystic Aquarium is a family adventure that combines entertainment, education, and awe-inspiring marine life. By planning ahead, arriving early, and engaging in interactive experiences, you can make the most of your day and create cherished memories with your loved ones. So, gather your family and embark on a journey into the underwater world at Mystic Aquarium – an experience that's sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors of all ages. I hope my 5 tips for Mystic Aquarium help you and your family have a great time!

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