Shelby Tourism Commission & VB Tier 3 Box

Stretching over 121,200 square feet and with 1 million gallons of saltwater and freshwater, thousands of animals from around the world, 70 exhibits, 14 galleries and a 32.5-foot-long Amazon Tunnel, Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, impresses not just with numbers, but with high quality visitor experiences.

Two visitor favorites include Sweet Pea and Scooter — the rock stars of the first shark ray breeding program in the world.

Three unique touch exhibits allow guests to interact with animals including sting rays, sharks, horseshoe crabs, sea anemones and sea stars. Visitors can touch 19 different species and experience the aquarium’s exhibits and animals at a 360-degree view thanks to five seamless acrylic tunnels.

“We even have one of the longest suspension bridges over an aquatic tank, captivating guests as they are challenged to walk across our Shark Bridge and the creatures swimming merely inches below their feet,” said Shelby Russo, group sales manager.

Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky
Newport Aquarium, Newport, Ky.
Credit: Courtesy of Newport Aquarium

Rare animals in the aquarium’s portfolio include shark rays, two albino American alligators and a 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle, among others.

Groups can enjoy year-round activities including public shark feeds, diver shows, penguin talks, a seahorse exhibit, several species of reptiles and amphibians, and a shape-shifting giant Pacific octopus. The octopus is the quick-change escape artist of the cold-water coastal kingdom, who holds court within the darkened hush of the Ring of Fire’s cave-like environment that also includes jellyfish.

“Additional group experiences include behind-the-scenes tours to see the logistics of operating our aquarium, animals behind the scenes and our tanks from the top down,” Russo said. “We also have Penguin Encounters, which include a meet and greet with an African blackfoot penguin; and Early Access Breakfasts with a biologist presentation on either sharks or penguins.”

To confirm a group reservation, Newport Aquarium requires a registration form to be completed at least 48 hours prior to arrival. The aquarium is located at Newport on the Levee, which has parking garages and lots available within walking distance.

For more information, call 859-815-1423 or visit newportaquarium.com/groups.

Article by Kathy Witt