Regardless of age or occasion, visiting an aquarium is an amazing experience where you can come face-to-face with some of the ocean’s wonders.
Whether you’re looking to bring your kids out for an adventure or spend the afternoon with friends, the Maritime Aquarium is a great place to spend the day—rain or shine.
Located in Norwalk, Connecticut, the aquarium has been open since 1988 and receives 500,000 annual visitors—a true testament to its incredible work.
Map design by Stanton House Inn
What’s the Maritime Aquarium About?
The Maritime Aquarium is the only aquarium devoted to Long Island Sound that’s also known as the “Estuary of National Significance.” Branching from the Atlantic Ocean, the Sound is an environment rich in aquatic life, even though it’s just an arm’s throw from New York City.
The Maritime Aquarium’s mission is to inspire all visitors to learn more about the Long Island Sound and to protect its ecosystem. This is made possible through living exhibits, marine science, and environmental education.
The place can really fill up on weekends, so it’s best to arrive early or opt for a weekday.
The staff is incredibly friendly, so should you have any questions or inquiries about a specific animal or aquatic life, they’ll be happy to offer answers or at least point you in the right direction. There are also signs throughout the aquarium to offer some knowledge about the aquatic mammals, allowing you to learn some fun facts and maybe even some new appreciate for the animals you share the earth with.
Marine Mammals & More
At the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, you can come nose-to-nose with so much sea life, you’ll be excited to come back for a visit.
Some of the marine mammals and other wildlife you’ll be able to see include:
- River otters
- Sea turtles
At the aquarium, you can feel like you step into a new world, getting up close to massive tanks where you almost get to feel part of the ocean, feeling the blue overtake you, swirling alongside the fishes.
There are even touch tanks that allow you to pet the soft backs of stingrays—without the stingers. You can also face your fears by petting sharks and jellyfish. If you’re lucky, you’ll even be able to pet a baby gator!
The jellyfish exhibit—Journey with Jellies—is quite amazing in and of itself. The aquarium presents various native and non-native species of jellies, letting you get up close to some of the most dangerous beings in the sea!
With the colors of the tanks bouncing off the jellies, they seemingly glow in neon colors. There are a bunch of species to be amazed by, but the Pacific sea nettles are especially crazy. These jellyfish are upside-down in a cool half-dome. And they’re in an 8-foot-tall display filled with moon jellies, and more!
There are tons of other exhibits too:
This exhibit allows you to get up close and learn more about meerkats. You get to see these creatures eat, sleep, and play all in one location.
Want to check out some seals? This is the location for you! And now, you can see their new and improved home.
Just Add Water
To see some animals from the desert to the rainforest, Just Add Water allows you to see these mammals from all environments.
Sea & Discovery Zone
Sea & Discovery Zone is a wonderful interactive exhibit allowing kids to interact with education.
Here you get to check out some of the cutest otters to come out of the Long Island Sound.
Shark and Ray Touch Pool
Get your hands dirty here by touching some real-life sharks and rays—oh my!
“Sketch and Release” Digital Wall
Become an artist on the largest digital wall in New England at this exhibit.
Ocean Beyond the Sound
Face your fears of getting up close to large sharks at this 110,000-gallon habitat.
With three big sea turtles, children and adults alike can witness the reptiles in action.
Ever wanted to touch a jellyfish without getting stung? Now’s your chance!
Small but mighty—meet the little ocean creatures that cause big pain.
Meet the marine creature with massive environmental importance!
Long Island Sound: From Risk to Resilience
Here, you can learn about the changing climate and the importance of the ecosystem.
After spending an afternoon at the aquarium, you can hop on a cruise through the water to see where some of the marine life comes from. The year-round cruises are made possible by its 64-foot research vessel, the R/V Spirit of the Sound.
The Maritime Aquarium also has a café if you’re looking for a bite to eat and a gift shop if you’re itching to bring one of their unique Connecticut souvenirs home or gift it to a loved one.
The new 4D cinematic experience is also something you need to do when you visit Maritime, with massive screens making it hard not to feel immersed in the movie you’re watching, especially when other elements are included, such as smells, bubbles, mists, wind, and more. You will be just as amazed as the kids around you!
The aquarium also offers special events and camps, so be sure to inquire about what new adventures you and your kids can get into.
How to Get to the Maritime Aquarium from Manhattan
It’s every New Yorker’s guilty pleasure to leave the city on weekends when all the tourists head into town—and it’s actually pretty easy to get to Norwalk from the Big Apple.
All you have to do is take the Metro North New Haven Line from Grand Central to South Norwalk Station in CT. From there, it’s just a 10-minute walk from the South Norwalk train station to the aquarium.
To purchase, you can go to any Metro-North ticket office or full-service ticket vending machine (excluding South Norwalk Station).
Here’s the price breakdown:
- Adults: $42.75
- Seniors: $37.25
- Children 5-11: $18.50
- Children 3-4: $16.50
- Children under 3: $3
And here’s what’s included:
- Metro-North tickets
- Admission to the Museum
All of this helps you save up to 25%, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to bring the whole family to a fun-filled weekend out of state.
Pricing: Adult (age 13-64): $29.95; Child (age 3-12): $20.95; Senior (age 65+): $25.95. Children under 3 are free.
Address: 10 North Water St., Norwalk, CT 06854
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving & Christmas.
Parking: Garage parking across the street.
Enjoy even more things to do in Norwalk after the Maritime Aquarium
While without question the most famous of the Norwalk attractions, there’s plenty more to keep you entertained.
- A broad selection of fantastic South Norwalk restaurants along Washington Street
- The Norwalk Historical Society, for history buffs
- The Gilded Age glory of the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
- Museums unique to Norwalk, like the SoNo Switch Tower Museum
- Or take the ferry to Sheffield Island to appreciate the local sea life in their natural environment
For this and many more picks for the top activities and things to do in Norwalk, be sure to read the full guide!