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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Review of The Newport Aquarium

The Newport Aquarium is located in Northern KY near Cincinnati.  It's open daily from 10am-6pm (changes during summer and winter months) and tickets are $23 for adults, $15 for kids (2-12) and children under 2 are free.  Also note, they have a restricted stroller policy during certain times, so check that out on the website if you are thinking of bringing one.  It is located at Newport on the Levee and you can make a day trip out of visit the aquarium, shopping and dining at Newport on the Levee and enjoying the scheduled programs and entertainment that they usually have there. It's a really nice area!

Recently, they had a promotion where annual pass holders could bring a friend for free so we were lucky to get an invite from a friend who has passes!  It was an easy 1.5 hour drive up I-71.  We got all of the kids in her mini-van and hit the road for a day trip. 


When the aquarium opens, they have a great celebration for the penguins.  Since it was a lovely day, they did this outside. A penguin mascot comes out with a staff member. They get the kids dancing!  They invite people for photos and then the kids can escort the penguins and be the official penguin parade marshals.  My son absolutely ate this up.

You enter the aquarium and go downstairs.  It's a one-way style venue in which everyone follows the same path at their own pace but you don't really go back and forth or choose where to go, you just follow the flow!  There are areas where you can hang out, snack and play but generally, you keep moving - stopping for each aquarium or exhibit.

The kids enjoyed seeing the variety of fish, turtles and other creatures. I liked the tunnels the most and there were many of them. I thought it was really cool to see the sting rays or sharks swimming above the tunnel.  Many of the tunnels, especially in the large tank near the end, had glass floors and yes, our kids laid on the floors to look through them!  They have a show with divers in the tanks, but we didn't catch that on this trip. 

The aquarium is broken up into themed areas and I liked the variety. It was constantly changing and engaging.  Then, just about when the kids needed it, there was the frog themed area with a big play climbing area that was perfect for preschool to elementary school aged children.  This area also had an interactive frog hopping dance game and some rubber frogs for the kids to climb on.  We sat on some benches in this area for a snack break.

As you go through the aquarium, there are places to bathroom breaks and some open areas to linger or sit down.  It flows nicely!  We lingered at the otter exhibit for a while because it had simple stadium style seating and the kids squealed at watching the otters play.  There was another interactive spot, a ping pong game projected on the wall that was a bit randomly placed but the kids sure liked it. 

As you navigate the aquarium, you will come to the cafe.  They offer standard fare from yogurt, snack foods, drinks and cold sandwiches to hot options like pizza and burgers.  There's plenty of seating and this is also where birthday parties would take place (in a separate dining area) and where you can see the photo that they snap of you when you enter the aquarium. We brought our lunch to save money.  When we first arrived, the cafe was empty.  But, soon after, a large group came and the line was very long for check-out.  So, with groups, you may have some long lines in the cafe and with younger kids who may lose patience, I am glad we brought our lunch.

The aquarium ends with passing through the tanks where you can touch some sharks, get another view of the large tank and head up the escalators to exit through the gift shop.  We enjoyed a refreshing coffee beverage at a coffee shop called Saxbys  inside the mall area of Newport on the Levee before hopping back in the car. Bonus!

All in all, we had a really nice trip to the Newport Aquarium.  If I hadn't gone with my friend who was able to get us in as guests on this special promotional day, it would have been $53. I think that is quite expensive since we didn't rush through and were still only there for under 3 hours. However, if you think you might go twice in a year, you might as well get the annual pass, go more often for day trips tying it in with shopping and dining at the Newport Levee or exploring something in Cincinnati.    It is indeed a nice day trip!

Stephanie

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