Everything you need to know about visiting the New York Aquarium (602 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, New York, 11224).
Though it’s likely the only aquatic wildlife you’ll see at Coney Island is seagulls eager to scoop up whatever boardwalk snack scraps you leave behind, those intrigued by the ocean can immerse themselves in aquaculture at the New York Aquarium. A sea lion pool, penguin habitat, recreated reef, shark exploration and more are the current exhibits starring live sea creatures (and occasionally their handlers) that offer an up-close-and-personal look at both Atlantic and Pacific Ocean life at the oldest continually operating aquarium in the country. Mermaids, often associated with Coney Island, are not on display, but those tempted by the lure of fictional marine life may enjoy the 4-D (that’s 3-D plus water) SpongeBob experience. With a dedicated mission of conserving the oceans and oceanic life, the venue will leave you with an enhanced and renewed passion for natural preservation.
Work up an appetite at a feeding
Before you head to the nearby snack carts for your requisite Coney Island dose of ice cream and cheese fries, watch penguins or sea otters chow down on tiny fish at daily live feedings. The highlight of many aquarium visits, watching otters swirl in the water while audibly chewing whole fish is seriously impressive. Did you miss mealtime? A daily schedule of sea lion performances at the aquatheater shows off what this intriguing marine mammal can do, entertaining and educating crowds of all ages.
Stay dry underwater
You don’t need a snorkel or wet suit to observe a myriad of colorful, unique sea creatures while underwater. Two permanent exhibits, Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef, keep eels, rays and countless fish behind glass walls so you can observe them swimming almost as if you were down in the ocean too. Touching pools let you feel the slick surfaces of some animals, and the entrancing tanks are relaxing enough to stare at for hours on end.
Dive into the tanks
Wish you were swimming with the fish? You can—literally. New Yorkers with diving experience can sign up for the aquarium’s Volunteer Dive Team, which lets you swim in the tanks alongside oceanic creatures. If you don’t want to dip all the way in, various other volunteer opportunities will put you up close to the animals. (Not to mention the super-unique resume boost—okay, and Instagram likes—these experiences will give you.)
Our New York editorial team is constantly updating and reviewing the best attractions, activities and venues across the city, so that you're always in the know, with the best of NYC. at your fingertips. New York Aquarium was most recently updated with new tips on July 27, 2017.