The Aquarium will be open Saturday, October 21, 2017, during the Baltimore Running Festival. Learn more about detours and road closures here.

Fish Eye

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you allow strollers?

Because of the escalators and moving walkways inside the National Aquarium, Baltimore, strollers cannot be used. Consider leaving your stroller at home or in the trunk of your car. If you do bring a stroller, Aquarium staff will store it for you and provide a backpack or frontpack child-carrier. The higher vantage point will also provide your children with a better view of many exhibits.

We take pride in knowing that the National Aquarium is a family venue, and we really do understand that strollers are an important part of family travel. So why would we ban strollers from our buildings? Simply, the design of our buildings does not allow for strollers, and allowing them would cause major safety concerns.

If you’ve been to the Aquarium, you know that our buildings are filled with moving walkways (movers) and escalators. The layout of the main Aquarium building is a walking tour with movers at the end of each level to take people to the next floor. Most strollers are too large to even fit on the movers and escalators. And even if they did fit, having strollers and people in the galleries would cause major traffic flow and safety concerns.

Our top priority is visitor safety, and we also want to make sure visitors enjoy their experience at the Aquarium. Our solution? If you do bring a stroller, Aquarium staff will store it for you and provide a backpack or frontpack child-carrier. The higher vantage point will also provide your children with a better view of many exhibits.
This may not be an ideal solution for all of the parents out there, but it is the only way for us to create a safe and enjoyable experience for all who visit the National Aquarium.

How much time should I allow for my visit?

We recommend you allow at least 3.5 hours for your visit.

Where can I find the photos taken of me during my visit?

Visit sharpshooterimaging.com and enter the number on the back of your PhotoCard to see your photos, order prints, and share online!

Related Questions:

What if I lost my PhotoCard number?

Fill out this form and SharpShooter will do everything possible to locate your photos.

How do I share my photo online?

Visit sharpshooterimaging.com and enter the number on the back of your PhotoCard. Supply your email address and a password to register or log in.

To email your photo, look for the orange box that reads "Share Your Experience," and click on "Send Selected Photo." Fill out the form to email your photo.

To share on Facebook, click on the Facebook logo under the preview of your photo. Log in to your Facebook account, and click "Post your photo!"

What kind of photo products can I order?

In addition to prints of various sizes and greeting cards, SharpShooter offers many great keepsake and gift items, like mugs, keychains, mousepads, coasters, T-shirts, playing cards, photo puzzles, and much more!

Does the Aquarium have parking?

Although the Aquarium does not operate its own parking facility, we have two official parking partners nearby. Tickets pulled from both Lockwood Place & the Inner Harbor Garage, can be validated for a discount to Aquarium guests. Aquarium members receive an even bigger discount.

Please note that there is an early-bird parking discount for those who park in either of these garages before 9 am, Monday through Friday. If you arrive before this time, we recommend you do not validate your parking ticket at the Aquarium, as that will override the early-bird parking cost.

Does the Aquarium offer a military discount?

The National Aquarium provides tickets to military bases nationwide through its consignment ticket program. To get the best rates available, we encourage active duty, reserves and retired members of the United States military to check with their local MWR or ITT offices for details.

In addition, the National Aquarium is proud to offer a special price of $34.95 to active military members and their adult family members who wish to purchase tickets onsite. This offer is available at the Aquarium box office upon presentation of appropriate military ID.

Sign up to receive Aquamail , the Aquariums e-newsletter, to be the first to know about other military promotions and additional discounts. And thank you for all you do!

Do you offer a discount for AAA members?

Most of the Mid-Atlantic AAA offices sell the National Aquarium’s consignment tickets at a discount.

Do you have wheelchairs to rent?

Guests may obtain wheelchairs, free of charge, with the deposit of a driver's license at the stroller check located on the ground level and across the hall after entering through the Members'/Accessible Entrance. These manual wheelchairs are available in limited numbers, on a first-come, first-served basis for use inside the Aquarium only. Learn More 

Can I bring food into the Aquarium?

For the health and safety of our animals, food, beverages, and gum are not allowed outside of the Aquarium's designated dining areas. Food and beverages obtained outside the Aquarium are not allowed inside Aquarium buildings; however, there are picnic tables and benches outside the Aquarium if you choose to bring your own food.

What happens if I am running late for my entry time printed on my ticket?

If you’re running a few minutes late, you may still enter the building after the entry time printed on your ticket depending on capacity and queue for entry.

Can I visit if I don't have my membership card?

Yes! Membership cards are requested to speed entry, but a valid photo ID can also be presented at the member desk if you’ve forgotten your card.

If your card(s) have been lost, replacements to be printed at the member desk, or you can email us at members@aqua.org.

Can I apply my Aquarium ticket purchase toward a membership?

Yes! Within 30 days of your purchase you can apply a portion of the cost of general admission tickets to a new membership for the ticketholders.


Level Maximum applied from ticket purchase
Individual 1 adult general admission ticket
Dual 2 adult general admission tickets
Family 2 adult general admission tickets and up to four children’s tickets
Ocean Ambassador 4 adult general admission tickets and up to six children’s tickets


For tickets purchased online, contact us at 410-659-4230, Monday through Sunday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

For tickets purchased onsite at the box office, you must have the original paper receipt for the tickets. Please mail us the receipt, along with a completed membership application form and a check for the balance, to:

National Aquarium, c/o Membership
501 E. Pratt St.
Baltimore, MD 21202

Can I bring guests with me through the member entrance?

If you will not be accompanying your guests on their visit or would like to give the tickets as gifts, consider purchasing member advance tickets (see below). For more information and pricing, please visit our Member Tickets and Pricing page.

How do I purchase member advance tickets?

Member advance tickets can be purchased by phone at 410-659-4230, Monday through Sunday, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Please allow two weeks for delivery. Tickets may not be left at the National Aquarium for pickup. For more information and pricing, please visit our Member Tickets and Pricing page.

Can my babysitter bring my children to the Aquarium?

Yes! When none of the adults named on the membership can attend, one sitter may accompany children covered by the membership free of charge. The sitter must possess your membership card, their photo ID, and a signed note from an adult member identifying the sitter and children attending. 

*The sitter policy applies to Dual, Family, Ocean Ambassador and Patron-level memberships.

Can I change the second adult on my membership to another person?

Updates to names listed on the membership may only be made when the membership is renewed.

Can my child who is covered by the membership visit without one of the named adult members?

Yes! Children covered by the membership can visit without an adult if they are 16 years of age or older, and if they bring the membership card of an adult named on the membership and a valid photo ID. A named adult must accompany all children under the age of 16.

How do I add my membership card to my Apple or Android device?

Please email us at members@aqua.org with a request for your digital card, and we will respond with a link to your current membership card.

Who do I contact with questions about my membership?

Email us at members@aqua.org and we will be happy to respond by the next business day. You can also contact us by phone at 410-659-4230, Monday through Sunday from 9:00am to 4:30 pm.

How many animals live at the National Aquarium?

We have close to 20,000 animals representing more than 700 species.

Can I donate an animal or pet to the Aquarium?

In general, the National Aquarium does not accept animal donations. We appreciate your thinking of us in finding your pet a new home. However, we simply do not have enough suitable exhibit or quarantine space for the number of animals we are offered.

Please contact an animal rescue organization to help you find a new home for your animal. Never release a pet into the wild. Many exotic animals are not adapted to local climates and will not survive. Even native species should not be released after they have been captive for a period of time. The animal's survival is unlikely and any released animals could spread diseases to local populations.

What jobs are available at the Aquarium?

Aquarium operations require a wide range of jobs, from front-line staff to animal care, to building maintenance, to finance, to fundraising, and more.

To see current job openings and submit an application, visit the National Aquarium's career center.

Can I job shadow or interview Aquarium staff?

The Aquarium receives a tremendous number of requests for job shadowing and interviews. Unfortunately, we are unable to meet the demand.

We do offer programs, such as Immersion Tours, for people to interact with our husbandry staff. Immersion Tours present a unique opportunity for personal time with certain staff, animals, and behind-the-scenes access at the Aquarium. Learn More

We also have an internship program for college students who can work 120 hours in a semester and receive college credit. Learn more about internships.

How can I prepare for a marine science career?

For information on marine science education programs, check out BRIDGE at marine-ed.org/bridge.

More information on careers in marine science can be found at marinecareers.net.

The National Aquarium offers a number of ways for people to gain experience and lay the foundation for a fascinating and rewarding career in marine science.

Student Summer Program

Maryland high school students who have completed ninth grade and at least one biology course are invited to spend a summer learning, teaching, and having fun with other students. Community service hours are awarded. Applications are accepted in the fall, and this program fills up quickly!  Learn More

Internships

Internships are a great way to get on-the-job training. The Aquarium offers unpaid internships to college students. Interns must receive college credit for their internship and complete a minimum of 120 hours of work. Learn More

Volunteering

Volunteering at the Aquarium requires a one-year commitment and the equivalent of four hours of work per week. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and high school graduates. Volunteers not only learn a lot, they have a lot of fun. Learn More

Veterinary Preceptorship/Externship

This opportunity is specifically designed for students with an interest in aquatic and zoo animal medicine, laboratory medicine, and environmental medicine. Students spend six to eight weeks working in the Animal Health Department and are exposed to the multifaceted nature of veterinary practice in a major aquarium. Students applying for the Veterinary Preceptorship Program must be a student in good standing enrolled in an AVMA-accredited school of veterinary medicine and must have completed the first two years of basic courses. Positions are unpaid. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are considered as received. Inquiries may be directed to Dr. Ben Rossi

How can I become a marine mammal specialist?

To become a marine mammal specialist, we recommend you get a degree in biology, psychology, or zoology. Additionally, most of our specialists got involved first through internships or volunteer programs, either at the National Aquarium or at other facilities. You will also need SCUBA certification! Learn more about marine mammal specialists

How and when did the National Aquarium get its start?

Originally established in 1873 in Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts, National Aquarium, Washington, DC, was considered the nation’s first public aquarium. In 1878, the National Aquarium moved to the site of the Washington Monument, and in 1932, the Aquarium was incorporated into the lower level of the Commerce Building. On September 30, 2013, National Aquarium, Washington, DC, closed its doors to the public, due to necessary renovations in the Department of Commerce.

In Baltimore during the 1970s, then-Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer conceived and championed the idea of an aquarium as a vital component of Baltimore's overall Inner Harbor redevelopment scheme. In 1976, Baltimore City residents supported the National Aquarium, Baltimore, by voting for it on a bond referendum. Groundbreaking for the facility took place on August 8, 1978. In 1979, the new aquarium was recognized by the United States Congress, which granted the facility "national" status. The National Aquarium, Baltimore, opened to the public on August 8, 1981.

For more information about the history of the National Aquarium, please visit here.  

Who was the architect for the National Aquarium, Baltimore?

The Aquarium’s original building, Blue Wonders: Reefs to Rainforests, was designed by Peter Chermayeff of Cambridge Seven Associates in Boston, MA. It measures 115,000 square feet and holds more than 1 million gallons of water.

The Pier 4 Pavilion is a 94,000-square-foot building designed by Grieves Associates of Baltimore, which opened to the public in December 1990. This building houses a 1.3-million-gallon pool for the Aquarium’s Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, a traveling exhibit area, and a cafe, and is linked to the main building on Blue Wonders by an enclosed footbridge.

The 65,400-square-foot Glass Pavilion, which opened in December 2005, was also designed by Peter Chermayeff. It features the award-winning Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit, a 6,650-square-foot cafe, a 5,000-square-foot gift shop, and a remarkable 35-foot waterfall. 

What is the Aquarium's economic impact on the region?

The National Aquarium, Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest paid tourist attraction, and the economic impact of Aquarium visitors on the State of Maryland has been tremendous. A study by the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development determined that the Aquarium annually generates nearly $220 million in revenues, 2,000 jobs, and $6.8 million in State and local taxes. The Aquarium's success has contributed to the development of more than 3,000 new hotel rooms in Baltimore. 

What is the annual attendance?

More than 1.3 million visitors pass through the National Aquarium, Baltimore's doors every year.

Is the National Aquarium a government entity?

No. National Aquarium is neither managed or funded by the federal government. The National Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We rely on the generosity of our donors, members, and volunteers to operate this world-class aquarium enterprise with conservation-based programs, education, and research. 

What types of private events can I have at the Aquarium?

Holiday parties, corporate events, wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions, private dinners, proms, reunions, lectures, presentations, social gatherings, bar/bat mitzvahs, picnics and more.

How do I check availability and/or reserve rental space to host an event at the National Aquarium?

Your direct contact for all event inquiries is Stephanie Chall, manager of meetings and events. Please fill out a request for information form. Due to the large amount of incoming requests, please allow 3-5 business days for response.

How much does it cost to "hold" a date for my event at the National Aquarium?

Once you select a date and confirm availability with our manager of meetings and events, we will guarantee a hold on your date and rates for a two-week period at no cost. A scheduled site visit is highly recommended, and a quote for space rental fees will be provided to you in writing.

Once confirmed, a space rental contract will be issued and 50% of the base rental fee due. The remaining 50% is due five days prior to the event date.

We ask that you wait to send out any invitations for the event until all parties have signed the contract.

What does my National Aquarium space rental include?

Space rental fees include a four-hour private rental, access to the aquarium exhibits, aquarium staff (on-site day-of manager, security and hosts, as needed), plus use of our existing tables and chairs, podium with mic, and small screen.

For weddings, your one-hour rehearsal is also included during normal business hours (9 am to 4:30 pm) the week prior to your event. If your rehearsal needs to take place after 4:30 pm or on a Saturday, there may be an additional fee.

Who are the approved caterers at the National Aquarium?

The Aquarium provides a choice of two exclusive caterers: Harbor Market Catering and The Classic Catering People. Our caterers handle food and beverage, linen rentals and any other special table or chairs. The National Aquarium holds a liquor license—all alcohol for private events must be supplied and served by one of our exclusive caterers. Exceptions can be made for kosher or Halal food items (additional fee applies).

Can I bring my own cake to an event at the National Aquarium?

Our caterers are happy to get a cake for you; however, you are able to bring your own as long as it’s from a licensed commercial baker (proof required). Our team will arrange the drop-off times directly with the bakery prior to the event. Unfortunately, due to limited storage, cakes cannot be dropped off early the day of your event.

When can I tell my vendors to arrive for setup and breakdown for an event at the National Aquarium?

Because the Aquarium and catering staff have a very short two-hour time period to turn the building from day to evening, our staff will arrange all vendor deliveries, setup and pickup directly.

We will need the names/contact information to coordinate load-in, as we have no on-premise parking available.

Breakdown at the end of the evening is allotted one hour after the conclusion of the event.

Additional set up time is not guaranteed, and additional fees may apply.

Can the National Aquarium accommodate early drop-offs or deliveries the day of my event?

Because the Aquarium is a working museum, open to the public, we are not able to accept early vendor deliveries and have limited storage space for event décor.

Is there parking available for my guests at a National Aquarium private rental?

The National Aquarium works exclusively with the Lockwood Garage (link to map) and will validate your guests’ parking for a discounted rate.

Are there any restrictions for decorations for a scheduled private event at the National Aquarium?

The Aquarium’s mission is to inspire the conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. Because of this, we cannot allow any live animals or balloons as decorations for private events.

Does the National Aquarium host daytime birthday parties?

Unfortunately, there are no official birthday party packages available at this time. We welcome space rentals for all occasions . The National Aquarium also hosts Immersion Tours that can be booked through our central reservations department. You are also welcome to contact our group sales manager for groups of 15 or more for a discounted ticket rate and box lunch/cake.

Can I have music during my private event at the National Aquarium?

There are no limitations on types of music in the Blue Wonders building. In Pier 4 Pavilion, the limitations concern the sensitivity of the dolphins to certain types and decibel levels of music. No steel drums are allowed in the dolphin building, and no amplified music is permitted in the underwater viewing area of Pier 4.

Can I have candles at the National Aquarium private rental?

Yes. Candles are permitted as long as they are surrounded by glass (e.g., votive, hurricanes, etc.).

Do you have any special add-ons or extras available for my private event at the National Aquarium?

Added value programming is available and contingent upon your space rental agreement. Additional fees will apply:

  • Dolphin Discovery
  • Puffin
  • ACR
  • Sharp Shooters Green Screen Photography
  • Aqua Store/Event Network

Do you provide any special rates for active members of the Aquarium?

Some membership levels receive special private rental rates. Please consult our membership department to see if you qualify.

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Accessibility Questions?

Contact Guest Services:
access@aqua.org
410-576-8745