Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Student Group Tour magazine will continue to provide ideas for planning educational travel. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information. 

National Aquarium, set in the heart of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland, draws more than 1.3 million visitors each year, many of which are student groups.

“The National Aquarium is consistently ranked one of the top three aquariums in the United States,” said Nora Campbell, the aquarium’s director of sales. “Student visitors will have the opportunity to journey from an Australian river gorge to the canopy of a rain forest to the depths of an Indo-Pacific reef and beyond at the National Aquarium. They’ll get up close and personal with 20,000 unique animals in a variety of stunning, award-winning habitats and discover the tie that binds these varied ecosystems and animals together — water.”

National Aquarium is made up of two main buildings and five levels of exhibits. In the “Tropical Rainforest” exhibit, two-toed sloths, golden lion tamarin monkeys and many species of frogs surround students as birds fly overhead. “Dolphin Discovery,” the aquarium’s largest exhibit, offers a glimpse into dolphins’ daily lives; marine mammal experts chat with guests about caring for and teaching them. The 225,000-gallon, ring-shaped exhibit “Shark Alley” brings students nose to nose with several shark species.

National Aquarium
‘Dolphin Discovery,’ National Aquarium, Baltimore, Md.
Credit: National Aquarium

In addition to self-guided exploration, student groups can watch 4D movies, take behind-the-scenes tours and participate in educational classroom programs.

“The National Aquarium offers a variety of age-appropriate classroom programs for middle and high school students, such as our hands-on squid dissection, Aquarium Careers program and Phylum lab,” Campbell said. “We offer private group dining with an animal encounter, known as our Dine and Discover program, which offers a variety of personalized menus and options.”

Other dining options include two on-site cafes and a la carte options. Groups also can select from pre-arranged options, such as box lunches, private dining in the Harbor View Room and lunch vouchers.

Student groups can expect to spend between two to three hours at the National Aquarium.

National Aquarium
National Aquarium, Baltimore, Md.
Credit: National Aquarium

“Through our unparalleled exhibits and conservation-based programming, we hope to create a community of hopeful conservationists in all our guests, driven by our focus on changing the way humanity cares for our ocean planet,” Campbell said. “The hope is that students leave the aquarium with a feeling they can make a positive change in their environment and share the lessons they learned with others.”

For more information on National Aquarium call 410-576-3833 or go to aqua.org.