One of the most fun activities for a parent and their toddler to do is to spend a day at the aquarium seeing all of the fish and sea life. Every major city has an aquarium, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one near you! I’ve put together a list of tips for taking a toddler to the aquarium based on my experiences at the aquarium in Atlanta with Annabelle.
One of my favorite places to go growing up was Mystic Aquarium – I just absolutely love penguins, seals, and sea otters. Since we share a love of the tiny tuxedo wearing birds, Brandon and I took a trip to the Boston Aquarium the first year we were dating just to the see the penguins. We’ve talked about bringing Annabelle to see the fish and dolphins for quite some time, but have wanted to wait until she was old enough to truly understand what she was going to see. Imagine our surprise (and joy!) when Brandon’s parents bought us annual passes to the Georgia Aquarium for Christmas!
Annabelle is a curious little girl, but truly cautious about everything. We talked about going to the Georgia Aquarium for about a week with Annabelle so she would not be scared of the fish, large whales, or the crowd. She sometimes becomes withdrawn and shy in new environments, so we made sure she saw videos and photos of the aquarium.
We arrived downtown 15 minutes before the aquarium opened. We knew we wanted to be able to see as much as possible before the place turned into a zoo. We were there about 30 minutes and the number of people in the aquarium probably tripled! At that point, Annabelle said she was ready to go home, but we convinced her to go to one more exhibit.
Unfortunately, we were not able to see everything that we wanted to see- but since we have annual passes we can go back anytime! Annabelle is very inquisitive and asked A LOT of questions. We loved being able to answer her knowing she was listening attentively. Her favorite animal in the whole aquarium – the TURTLES!
We let her pick out anything she wanted in the gift shop – and she ended up with two small turtles (under $6 for both!). I had worried allowing her to choose a gift that she would end up with a life size $100 dolphin, but we lucked out. She loves her turtles and insisted they come to brunch with us after the aquarium.
Tips for Taking a Toddler to the Aquarium
- Give your toddler the scoop on the scene. If you have a timid toddler, make sure you show your little one where you are going before you get there. The aquarium can be a frightening place because it is dark, a little chilly, and crowded. Not to mention filled with BIG fish!
- Check out stroller rules. Annabelle prefers to walk or be held, but there were so many children in strollers at the Georgia Aquarium. There were also designated places to park your stroller while you walked around exhibits.
- Bring snacks! Our aquarium has a cafeteria, but it is hard to find little items for her to eat that she can eat with her dairy intolerance.
- Plan out a schedule. It is important to look into the exhibits at the aquarium, and a map if possible, before you go! There is nothing worse than getting to a ginormous new place and having no idea where to go.
- Prepare for the gift shop. At our aquarium, you have to walk through the gift shop to exit the building. Thankfully Annabelle does well when we tell her she doesn’t need a $50 backpack and lunchbox, but some other children might not handle “No” as well.
Do you have any tips for taking a toddler to the aquarium?
Caitlin Houston is a Connecticut based life and style blogger.