When visiting Virginia Beach take a break from the sights of the beach and go see the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. Located a short drive south of the Boardwalk and the hotels and shops, this attraction provides kids of all ages with a remarkable up close and personal experience with both sea life and inland ecosystems.
Before you even enter the Aquarium you are treated with a display of Harbor seals in a beautiful glass walled aquarium. Staff feed the seals a couple of times each day. The seals are constantly swimming by the windows, much to the delight of younger kids.
Once inside the facility you will have the opportunity to purchase (for a charge above the admission ticket) a pass to the onsite IMAX Theater. Rotating shows in the IMAX provide locals the opportunity to keep up with the new offerings in the theater.
The aquariums hold over 700,000 gallons of water and present for up close and personal viewing of both salt water and fresh water species of aquatic animals. Visitors walk through the tunnel that is the salt water aquarium. You will be delighted in this stroll which makes you feel like you are walking on the bottom of a coral reef.
Highlights for this author were the two displays that held Komodo dragons. According to biologists these prehistoric creatures have remained unchanged for millions of years. The two specimens at the Virginia Aquarium are large, one reaching at least 9 feet in length. One of the displays features a clear Plexiglas bubble accessible by a short tunnel. There were several kids in the bubble when one of the dragons walked by. What a treat for those kids.
Other displays show the geologic history of the Hampton Roads area, including the evidence of a large impact by an asteroid in the past. The natural history of tides and the ecosystems of the intertidal zones are explained in easy to understand visual and audio displays.
The entire facility covers many acres and includes an easy to navigate wooden walkway to a second building that highlights the marsh ecosystems of the area. The Marsh building includes animals of the area and an enclosed aviary as well. The walkway parallels Owl Creek which was filled with wild bird life.
When in Virginia Beach, be sure to visit the Virginia Aquarium. The website link below includes all details about admission fees, hour’s open and current displays.
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center