Newport Aquarium – Newport, Kentucky
Get up close to creatures from the sea at the Newport Aquarium.
There's no other aquarium that comes even close to the experience you'll get at the Newport Aquarium.
You can easily spend three or more hours here with your kids, because there is just so much to do. This aquarium has fish and sharks like you would expect at most aquariums, but they also have seahorses, an octopus, a huge jellyfish exhibit and a massive penguin exhibit.
For an extra $20, you can have a penguin encounter, which is basically 20 minutes alone with a biologist and a penguin. It can be pricey, especially if you have more than one child, but if you can afford it, go for it. It really is an amazing experience, especially if you have a little one that's head over heels for these little guys! The encounters do need to be scheduled ahead of time, and they can't be rescheduled. Get there early, because if you're late, you lose your turn. If you don't want to spend that kind of money to please your penguin lover, get there by 10:15 in the morning. That's when they have a free penguin parade every day.
Some of the other awesome exhibits are the otters, which are usually very active and a favorite of toddlers, and the bird exhibit. Guests get to feed nectar to the birds — but don't make any promises to your kids, because most of the time the birds aren't hungry.
They also have several underwater tunnels that you can walk through, making it feel like you're in the water with the fish. If you have kids, there are two touch tanks where they can learn a little more about some of the creatures from the aquarium.
A special exhibit that's a favorite when it's in town is the alligator exhibit. This exhibit lets you get up close and eye to eye with several alligators, some as big as 14 feet long.
Unless you want to spend a bundle on lunch, eat before you go. They have an expensive cafeteria set up right in the middle of the place, and it's hard to resist when you've got hungry kids. You can't bring food and drinks in, so plan accordingly.
If you have small children, check the stroller calendar on the website before you go. There are some times (usually the busiest times) when strollers are not allowed into the aquarium. During these times, they do offer free wearable carriers if your child is under 30 pounds.
If you aren't a fan of crowds, stay away on Saturdays. The place gets so packed on that day that you can hardly walk through the exhibits.
Tickets are pretty expensive, but you can save a few bucks by buying your tickets at a Cincinnati-area Kroger before you go.
Address: 1 Aquarium Way, Newport, KY 41071