Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Adventure Aquarium, Camden

Perhaps the single most iconic building in all of Camden, and perhaps all of the South Jersey region, save for Atlantic City's architecture, the Adventure Aquarium in Camden sits prominently on the Delaware River waterfront with its large white dome, brick facade, and deluge of windows.  Inside, visitors will be flooded with exhibits and get to enjoy a fun, educational experience.

Originally built as a cornerstone for Camden's Waterfront revival, the Aquarium seems like it hasn't disappointed, though perhaps hasn't drawn in other businesses as many would have hoped, since Camden still is very much blighted, unfortunately.  Be that as it may, the Aquarium is a popular place for school trips, out of town visitors, and locals alike, so it certainly serves as a great draw for the region. 

The venerable aquarium features a wide variety of exhibits, ranging from a sting ray petting pool to a hippo hangout, a shark tunnel, a 4-D theater, a penguin locale, and much, much more.  It provides a great venue for getting up close and personal with waterlife of all kinds and is a wonderful getaway for kids, where a family could easily spend a few hours if you take advantage of the whole layout.  The aquarium is also host to catered events, which undoubtedly must be a pretty fun place to have an event.

Some downsides to the Aquarium to take note of...
  • As is the case with many facilities where tickets are required, the ticket window is located on the outside of the building.  So if you're planning to buy tickets, it is highly suggested you purchase them online so you can proceed right into the main entrance.  Otherwise, be prepared to potentially wait outside in line, which can be a major inconvenience in bad weather and antsy kids in tow!
  • On a recent visit on a Saturday late morning, the place was MOBBED.  The line outside at the ticket gate was probably 100 people or more long, and the line inside where your ticket is checked was quite long as well. Do plan ahead to either arrive early or get there on a day when it is not too busy.  Note that many schools have class trips there during weekday mornings, so the best time might be to go on weekday afternoons, if you have your choice.  The Guest Info page provides more useful information on this.
  • Inside, when it is busy, there are several areas that can get bottlenecked so be prepared to jostle a little bit if there's a large crowd.  The layout spreads out so most areas aren't too bad, but just something to keep in mind, especially if you're like us and bring a gigundo stroller(!).
On the whole, the Adventure Aquarium is a great place for families to check out, and even if you don't have kids you will likely have a rewarding time if you appreciate the animal kingdom.  And, on a nice day, the Waterfront is a nice area to walk around and also check out the Battleship New Jersey or a Riversharks game.  Plus you get a perfect view of the Philadelphia skyline and Ben Franklin Bridge.  You likely won't want to stray too far from this area, but it's a pretty large swath of land to enjoy for a half day or so.

To get more info, visit the Adventure Aquarium website or call  856-365-3300.

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