The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is an exciting, educational center featuring more than 300 hands-on exhibits. Encompassing over 800,000 gallons (3,000,000 liters) of aquariums and live animal habitats, the center offers visitors a chance to examine sea turtles, sharks and jellyfish, as well as dozens of other aquatic animals and birds. Handle horseshoe crabs in touch pools, use computers to predict the weather and see a compelling movie in the center’s IMAX theater.
View Malayan leaf frogs, tomistoma crocodiles, snakehead fish and other rare Southeast Asian animals at the Malaysian Peat Swamp. Look for scorpions, seahorses and cobras at the Mediterranean Sea exhibit, which recreates conditions similar to Virginia during the Silurian period. Head to the Chesapeake Bay Touch Pool to interact with horseshoe crabs, sea stars and whelks, while listening to docents explain their anatomy and behavior.
Watch a movie at the six-story National Geographic 3-D Movie Theater, which features a massive screen large enough to accurately depict a life-size whale. Shows range from educational movies to major Hollywood blockbusters.
As you exit the museum, stop at the salt marsh room, which provides an excellent introduction to the nature trail outside. Continue to this 0.3-mile (0.5-kilometer) hike, which runs along Owl Creek salt marsh. Head to the top of the 30-foot (9-meter) observation tower for wonderful views over the surrounding wetlands and creeks. Don’t miss the Adventure Park, which includes an aerial trail of bridges and zip lines.
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) south of Virginia Beach’s resort area. The aquarium is open daily, with regular closures for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is an admission fee. In the summer months, get here by taking advantage of the seasonal trolley service. Interact with Virginia’s diverse marine life at this engaging science center.