In the heart of Baltimore, you can travel across the globe. Effortlessly journey from an Australian river gorge to the canopy of a rain forest to the depths of an Indo-Pacific reef and beyond at the National Aquarium as you get close and personal with 20,000 unique animals.

The journey to discover our ocean planet begins in Australia: Wild Extremes, where you’ll walk through a northern Australia river gorge as the call of a laughing kookaburra echoes overhead. Once you’ve taken in the sights and sounds of Australia, you’ll head into Blue Wonders, housed in the Aquarium’s Pier 3 building, where an aerial view of the Blacktip Reef exhibit awaits. The exhibit’s namesake, blacktip reef sharks, quickly circle the waters as a myriad of colorful fishes swim below and several species of rays gracefully glide through the water in this replication of an Indo-Pacific coral reef.

This Baltimore-based institution wouldn’t be complete without a nod to its home state. Maryland: Mountains to the Sea—the exhibit encompassing Level 2 of Blue Wonders—offers a slice of aquatic habitats found throughout the Old Line State. After exploring Maryland, your next stop is an interactive touchpool exhibit, Living Seashore, where you can dip your fingertips in the water and graze them across the silky bell of a moon jelly, the bumpy shell of an ancient horseshoe crab or the smooth wing of an Atlantic stingray.

From evolving to shocking to camouflaging, you’ll learn about the different adaptations that help a stunning variety of animals survive and thrive in Surviving Through Adaptation. After you make your way through this multi-gallery exhibit, it’s time to meet some of the Aquarium’s most popular residents: the colony of Atlantic puffins. Next, take a peek at a Pacific coral reef and come face to face with the incredible animals that call the semi-flooded forest of an Amazon tributary home—including dwarf caimans, white-blotched river stingrays and giant South American river turtles.

Next up is Upland Tropical Rain Forest. As you meander through the thousands of lush rain forest plants, don’t forget to look up: with a sharp eye and a little luck, you may be able to spot a Linne’s two-toed sloth hanging from the treetops, or the petite golden lion tamarins darting from limb to limb.

After exploring the rain forest, it’s time to descend through Atlantic Coral Reef, a 335-gallon, multi-level exhibit where you’ll be surrounded by nearly 100 species of tropical fishes. Continue down the ramp and you’ll find yourself in the dimly lit Shark Alley, where you’ll be nose to nose with predators of the deep as they slowly encircle you.

Now that you’ve traveled to aquatic habitats around the world, it’s time to make your way to Pier 4, where you’ll find the Aquarium’s largest exhibit, Dolphin Discovery, and the charismatic colony of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins that resides there. Educator talks led by marine mammal experts provide insight into how staff use enrichment and innovative learning methods to provide these highly intelligent marine mammals with optimal care. To wrap up your Aquarium experience, there’s one final stop to make before exiting the building: Jellies Invasion, where you can immerse yourself in the world of pulsating, brainless jellies.

The National Aquarium’s mission—to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures—is evident in every animal you meet, and each is a living, breathing reminder to the Aquarium’s 1.3 million annual visitors that we all share the same ocean planet—and the responsibility to take care of it.

Remember, Hilton guests who book the Weekend Like a Local package receive 20% off admission to the National Aquarium!

Previous Article

Must Have Cocktails in Waikiki

Next Article

Stars Coming to NYC Broadway this Fall

Related Guides