Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baltimore National Aquarium Discounts - Our Family’s Savings Finds

We recently visited Baltimore, Maryland and decided to take our son to the famous National Aquarium, a top attraction in the city.  We scoured the web for discounts or coupons and found very little useful information. One website indicated that they offer discount coupons in brochures available at Maryland Welcome Centers.  After calling a couple welcome centers, they informed us that they never had coupons to the aquarium and have been having trouble ever since someone posted it online.  We found several “stay and save” packages at local hotels, which include aquarium tickets with a hotel stay, but the prices were not great deals.  We were able to get discount tickets through my husbands workplace, but after doing the math it would still cost a lot of money for our family of 3 to enjoy a day long visit.

Since our son recently turned 3, he’s no longer free.  Although he loves this type of activity in small doses, he does not have a “hang out at an aquarium, museum, or zoo for a full day” kind of attention span yet, so we weren’t sure it made sense to spend a small fortune taking him on this excursion now.

We had almost scrapped our plan when we learned about Fridays After Five.  From September 9th through March, all basic Aquarium admission tickets are only $8 for entry at 5 pm or later on Fridays.  Dolphin and 4D shows can be added on for an additional $4 each.  This is a huge savings, check out the current regular admission prices:

  Aquarium Only Senior Admission Price (60+): $23.95
  Aquarium Only Adult Admission Price (12-59): $24.95
  Aquarium Only Child Admission Price (3-11): $19.95
  Fridays After Five Aquarium Only Admission Price: $8.00

We were planning to go on a Friday anyway.  For only $24 (admission for 3), we all had a super fun evening exploring the Baltimore Aquarium.  Even though we didn’t pay extra for the dolphin show this time, we could see the dolphins in their underwater viewing area.  My hubby and I both agreed that paying full price for a full day at the aquarium wouldn’t have been worth it for our family right now due to our son’s young age, but this discount price was definitely a great deal.  There were lots of other families at the aquarium too and, not surprisingly, it was a popular date night destination.

Saving Tip:  Save on Parking - The aquarium website lists parking garages that they validate for $3 off the daily rate, but the garages were still pricey especially when you’re only parking for the evening.  We were able to park at a garage up the street that only charged $7 after 4pm, which worked perfectly for an evening outing to the aquarium.

Also Note:  The Baltimore Aquarium does not allow strollers inside.  

One of our favorite parts of this visit was the giant lively octopus that was putting on quite a show and attracting a huge traffic jam sized crowd of onlookers.

If you’ll be near Baltimore, definitely stop by the National Aquarium and check it out!  If you’re going for the Fridays After Five deal, please be aware ticket availability is limited and the aquarium recommends advance purchase.  They charge a small fee per ticket for advance purchase, but you’ll be guaranteed to get discounted tickets.  This may be a worthwhile option if you’re making a special trip or are traveling from a distance.  We did not purchase advanced tickets.  There was a short line to purchase tickets, but we were permitted to immediately enter the aquarium.  During busy times, tickets purchased may have a delayed entrance time (so you might drop someone to get tickets while you park the car, if arriving right at 5pm).

When we visited the aquarium closed at 8pm, but as long as you were inside they allowed you to stay until 9:30pm.  In case you’re wondering, although there is a lot to explore and take in, we did not make it that long...that’s life with an active 3 year old. :)  

National Aquarium. Baltimore Inner Harbor
501 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21202
Hours | Admission Prices | Fridays at Five, Promotions and Discounts
(410) 576-3800

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