One of the most beloved Virginia Beach attractions is the Virginia Aquarium which has over 800,000 gallons of tanks for guests to explore and over 300 different animal species call it home. It’s an amazing destination for families who are looking for more fun than relaxing on the beach, but these special intimate animal encounters are truly unique. Add one of these experiences to your Virginia Aquarium for unforgettable family fun.
Walking through the Virginia Aquarium is and adventure for your senses. The aquarium does an amazing job to ensure guests have an all-encompassing visit where you can touch animals, see them up close and hear what noises they make.
Kids can venture into each exhibit for an immersive experience that’s educational too. Animal experts are located all around the aquarium to assist guests by answering questions or allowing them get closer to the animals. That’s one of the many ways the Virginia Aquarium enriches the visit and makes it worth the ticket price.
Some of these more intimate animal encounters are an added cost, on top of your ticket price, and need to be reserved in advance. Others are included and can’t-miss opportunities that you should take advantage of when visiting the Virginia Aquarium
Must-Do Virginia Aquarium Animal Encounters & Tours
One of the awesome things that the Virginia Aquarium does is use its close proximity, to the Atlantic Ocean, to offer even more marine opportunities for guests. Animal experts from the aquarium will take guests out on boat for one-of-a-kind learning excursions. Different types of tours are available depending on the time of the year. Always check the aquarium site when planning your family vacation itinerary.
Virginia Beach Whale Watching Tours
Can you imagine seeing the beauty of a humpback whale, as close as you can get? There’s nothing like it. Many humpback whales call Virginia Beach their home during the winter months and the Virginia Aquarium offers Whale Watching Tours. They run from mid-December through March. You’ll also learn about other animals in the area you might see (like dolphins and seabirds). This VABeach attraction is very popular, so be sure to book your tour in advance.
Sea Turtles Behind-The-Scenes (At Virginia Aquarium)
If you love sea turtles and your fascinated by conservation efforts of the Virginia Aquarium, then you’ve got to take a Sea Turtles Behind-The-Scenes tour. You can see how they’re cared for, learn about how to protect sea turtles in the wild and witness a behavioral training session. The 45-minute tour is only for kids older than 8 and costs $20 per person in addition to your admission ticket.
Seals Behind-The-Scenes (At Virginia Aquarium)
Seals are one of the most adorable mammals on the planet and they’ve got tons of personality. Guests can chat with a professional mammal trainer, watch how they train the seals and capture some cute behind-the-scenes photos. The Seals Behind-The-Scenes tour costs $50 per person in addition to your admission ticket.
Virginia Beach Dolphin Watching Tours
Another fabulous way to see the Atlantic Ocean waters off of the Virginia Beach shoreline, the Dolphin Watching Tours offer guests the opportunity to see the most likable marine mammals. It’s a 90-minute excursion that takes guests out to see the bottlenose dolphins. Kids love dolphins and this is a must-do if they’d like to see them in the wild.
Ray Touch Pool (At Virginia Aquarium)
The newly renovated Ray Touch Pool is included in part of your admission ticket to the Virginia Aquarium. Don’t miss the opportunity to “touch” a ray with the two-finger rule. Kids can dip their hands below the water and gently touch them as they swim by. An animal expert is on hand to assist guests and answer any questions about the rays.
Which Virginia Aquarium Animal Encounter Is Right For My Kids?
If you’re having trouble narrowing down what animal encounter is worth the ticket price for your family, I’ve got some ways you can compare the different experiences. Look at the age of your kids, tour availability and the length of the experience. It’s a great way to decide what is best for your family and what to save for future visits when they’re older.
- Strollers are allowed inside the aquarium, but not on the boats for the whale & dolphin watching tours
- Infants are free for the whale & dolphin watching tours, but you still need to reserve a ticket per U.S. Coast Guard regulation.
- Kids must be 8 years of age for the Behind-The-Scenes tours
- The Whale Watching and Dolphin Watching tours are on a catamaran with limited indoor climate-controlled seating. Kids who are sensitive to cold weather might have an issue.
There are so many great way to experience the Virginia Aquarium with kids. These special animal encounters are great additions to regular visit and they’re perfect for little animal-lovers. I highly recommend booking these experiences ahead of your visit to ensure availability. They’re definitely amazing in-depth ways to explore the aquarium.