New England Aquarium. This aquarium challenges you to imagine life under and around the sea. Its glass-and-steel exterior is constructed to mimic fish scales and seals bark outside. Inside the main facility you'll see penguins, sea otters, sharks, and other exotic sea creatures—more than 30,000 animals, with 800 different species.
In the semi-enclosed outdoor space of the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center, visitors can enjoy
the antics of northern fur seals and sea lions while gazing out at Boston Harbor.
The real show-stopper, though, is the four-story, 200,000-gallon ocean-reef tank, one of the largest of its kind in the world, which was renovated in 2013. Ramps winding around the tank lead to the top level and allow you to view the inhabitants from many vantage points. Up top, the new Yawkey Coral Reef Center features a seven-tank exhibit gallery that gives a close-up look at animals that might not be easily seen on the reef. Don't miss the five-times-a-day feedings; each lasts nearly an hour and takes divers 24 feet into the tank.
The aquarium has one of the largest exhibits of jellies in the country, with thousands of jellyfish (some grown in the museum's labs.)
Get up close to sharks and rays at the Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank, the largest of its kind on the East Coast. The Blue Planet Action Center is a hands-on and interactive educational experience where visitors have the chance to see shark and lobster nurseries.
At the Edge of the Sea exhibit children can gingerly pick up starfish and other creatures. Whale-watch cruises leave from the aquarium's dock from April to October, and cost $45. The 6½-story-high IMAX theater takes you on virtual journeys from the bottom of the sea to the depths of outer space with its 3-D films.
If you are planning to see an IMAX show as well as check out the aquarium, buy a combo ticket; you'll save $5 for the adult ticket.
Also, buy the combo ticket if you'd like to do the whale watch and the Aquarium, you'll save $12 if you purchase them together.
Save yourself the torture of waiting in long weekend lines, and purchase your tickets ahead of time online. You can skip ahead of the crowd and pick up your tickets at the will-call window, or print them out at home. Central Wharf between Central and Milk Sts., 1 Central Wharf, Downtown, Boston, MA, 02110. 617/973–5200. www.neaq.org. $24.95, IMAX $9.95. July–early Sept., Sun.–Thurs. 9–6, Fri. and Sat. 9–7; early Sept.–June, weekdays 9–5, weekends 9–6. Aquarium, State.
Central Wharf between Central and Milk Sts., 1 Central Wharf, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110, United States