I can’t believe we’ve lived in Westchester for almost six years and this weekend was our first visit to the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, CT. Norwalk has so much to do with the Stepping Stones Museum, shops and restaurants in Historic South Norwalk, and the aquarium has always been on my list. And I don’t know who had more fun, my husband and I or the kids.
You can see everything at the aquarium in one day and it’s geared for young kids. My daughters weren’t scared of any of the animals (unlike the zoo) and it felt less exhausting than the zoo. Also, the aquarium’s location in South Norwalk and right on the Long Island Sound makes it ideal to incorporate into a whole day – stroll the streets of the historic downtown, have lunch and then visit the aquarium.
We loved watching the seals get fed. Feeding times are several times per day and are posted at the seal tank. Insider tip: the woman who feeds the seals told us that the best place to watch the show is from the second floor balcony. My little ones could see the whole show and were enthralled. Especially when we found out one seal is named “Ariel”.
Another huge hit was petting baby sharks and stingrays. The large, shallow pool was full of sharks and stingrays just waiting for our hands to pet them. My six-year-old was particularly thrilled by “their sliminess”.
Also, don’t miss the large boat kids can pretend to drive (complete with life jackets), toy boat making workshop (cost: $5 per boat), numerous photo opportunities where kids can pose as a fisherman or other sea creatures, play space for little ones, tanks of octopus, purple frogs, luminous jelly fish, large sharks, colorful fish, crabs of every kind and lots more. Bring your camera because you can take some really cool shots!
Now you can also see a special exhibit of meerkats from Africa complete with viewing bubble. Kids can stand up and poke their heads up into the meerkat habitat. There are also several IMAX movies playing. Check the schedule and find out costs here.
Definitely skip the aquarium’s cafe. There are far too many restaurants in the area that will be better. We tried to eat lunch at The Brewhouse, but we were told we needed a reservation. We opted for Papaya Thai, right across the street from the aquarium. We weren’t sure what we were getting ourselves into since we were the only ones there at noon, but we loved our meal. The restaurant itself was pretty cheesy and everything looked like it had seen better days, but the meal was very good. I had a tasty bowl of Drunken Noodles and the girls loved their noodles and chicken skewers from the kids’ menu.
Purchase your tickets for the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk on their website or in person. Cost: aquarium only adults $19.95, kids (3-12) $12.95, kids under 3 are free. Memberships are also available. 10 North Water Street, Norwalk, CT