You don’t have to travel far to see some of the most amazing sea life on the planet—aquariums in NJ are often considered some of the best in the country. Thanks to dedicated preservation efforts and an emphasis on local and global marine animals, aquariums in NJ feature everything from hammerhead sharks to mellow sea turtles to bottle-nosed dolphins and the Blue Nile hippos. And now is the perfect time to get out and explore one—scroll down for an aquarium in New Jersey near you and find more to do near you with our all-season guide to indoor activities. (feature photo credit: istock)
Here are 10 aquariums in NJ where you can spend a day under the sea
Camden Adventure Aquarium
With over 15,000 aquatic animals, including the most extensive collection of sharks in the Northeast and Nile Blue Hippos, many consider Camden the best aquarium in New Jersey. Kids will want to check out the Little Blue Penguins (aka the “cutest penguins ever”) before making the thrilling crossing over the largest rope-suspension shark bridge on the planet. Be sure to check out their many special events, including mermaid swims, pumpkin carvings, Santa visits, and more over the year.
1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103
Steps away from the sand, this NJ aquarium is perfect for families to visit during a beach break. Their marine exhibits educate the importance of wildlife conservation and feature sandbar sharks, nursing sharks, coral reefs, penguins, and seals. Your kids can also check out the hands-on learning experiences with marine professionals—learn about Wally, the two-toed sloth, waddle alongside penguin friends, or take a behind-the-scenes tour and see the inner workings of the aquarium. The aquarium’s top floor is closed while they freshen up the animal habitats.
300 Ocean Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Turtle Back Zoo
Essex County’s Turtle Back Zoo is one of New Jersey’s most well-known and loved facilities to expose your children to wildlife from around the world. Get aquatic with Turtle Back’s sea lion pool and sea turtle recovery, or visit the penguin exhibit that resembles the South African coastline. There is even a 1,600-gallon marine life touch tank.
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
Liberty Science Center
We love Liberty Science Center for their IMAX films, Dino Digs, and Touch Tunnel, but did you know this world-class facility also features a year-round exhibit focused on our own Hudson River habitat? Littles can move water and sediments in an authentic replication of the Hudson River, come face to face with adorable turtles at the child-height tanks, and even don white laboratory coats while conducting their own ecology experiments.
222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07305
Marine Mammal Stranding Center
New Jersey’s only facility for marine mammal rescue has been saving aquatic lives for over 35 years. This haven for marine life has housed and treated a wide range of species, from bottle-nosed dolphins and sea turtles to sea lions and porpoises. The small, dedicated team implements various educational programs for younger children to learn animal facts and safety through the Stranding Center’s museum.
3625 Brigantine Boulevard, Brigantine, NJ 08203
NJ SEA LIFE Aquarium
Discover over 3,000 sea creatures at this newer aquarium at American Dream, including sharks, rays, jellies, and more. Kids will love to walk through an ocean tunnel, explore educational and interactive exhibits, and take a behind-the-scenes aquarium tour. And see how many NYC landmarks you can spot in the cityscape backdrop in their featured “City Under the Sea” exhibit.
1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 07073
Where else can you interact with animals from five continents in one place than at this aquarium in Woodbridge, NJ? Make your way through an Icelandic Fishing Village, the Great Wall of China, and the Amazon River. At the same time, you explore over 20,000 square feet of adventure with everything from Asian otters to stingrays and even flying squirrels. Book animal encounters and stay tuned for special events throughout the year.
250 Woodbridge Center Drive, Woodbridge, NJ 07095
The Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Center
Fun fact: The facility houses NJ’s only state-owned and operated trout hatchery. Up to 700,000 trout are produced annually for stocking public waters at this location. The building is currently only open to scheduled group tours, but you can take a self-guided hatchery tour, which will take you from the nursery building, where you can peek through the windows of the egg room and nursery area. There’s also an observation platform where you can overlook the raceways and pools filled with trout.
605 Pequest Road, Oxford, NJ 07863
Visit the aquarium, explore the elevated walkway, enjoy the dock, or hike the salt marsh trail at this Stone Harbor natural conservation area, rich with mollusks, turtles, horseshoe crabs, whelk, mud snails, and more. The Institute aims to inspire communities to become stewards of our coastal and wetland ecosystem. Each season, the Institute features a different science activity and creature feature, spotlighting native sealife and their habits.
1075 Stone Harbor Blvd., Stone Harbor, NJ 08247
Atlantic City Aquarium (CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS)
Reptiles, amphibians, marine mammals, fish, invertebrates, birds—the Atlantic City Aquarium located at Historic Gardner’s Basin on the bay has it all. Keep your littles engaged with the aquarium’s many attention-grabbing exhibits: Ocean Oddities, Moray Eels, Reef Predators, Tropical Rainforest, or the Piranha Tank. Take a productive break and stop to watch a Live Diver Feeding Show and see divers hand-feed residents of the “Fish of the Mid-Atlantic” tank. You can ask questions while the diver is underwater and learn more about the duties of aquatic professionals.
800 North New Hampshire Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Has your family been to one of these aquariums in NJ? Share your experience with us in the comments below.
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