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A visit to an aquarium is a perfect family day trip. Aquariums offer children a chance to experience and learn about sea creatures in a hands-on, fun way, and the colorful marine life and exhibits will delight and engage family members of all ages. Here are some tips for making the most of your day at the aquarium.

Do Your Research

As you begin planning your trip, check out the aquarium’s website. Browsing the website with your child is a great way to stimulate curiosity. Many aquarium sites have webcams that offer previews of exhibits and marine life. You can also check out maps, feeding hours, and other scheduled events. Some sites even post crafts and games, which will help children get excited about the trip. The website is also a good place to find other helpful information, such as where to park, food that’s available on-site, and opportunities to buy tickets in advance so you can avoid waiting in a long line. 

Before You Go

Enter the aquarium prepared! Talk with your family about which exhibits are must-see. Make a plan according to your family’s interests. Go ahead and pack snacks for munching in designated eating areas. Having a scavenger hunt or a journal for older kids is a great way of keeping them engaged throughout the day. If your child is young enough to tire easily, by all means bring a stroller. You can also check the website or call ahead to see if the facility rents strollers or provides areas to park yours.

Enjoying the Day

Your bag is packed, you have your list of must-sees…now what? When you arrive, take advantage of learning behind-the-scenes information by talking with the staff. Staff members are often well-trained and incredibly knowledgeable. Labels or graphics generally describe exhibits, but talking to an expert will help children better understand the animals, their habitats, and the messages of conservation. As you explore throughout the day, try to switch things up by using snacks, lunch, and a romp on the playground (if available) to break up the learning and observing times. Don’t forget the “touch me” displays. Your child is sure to enjoy holding a sea star, feeling a sea cucumber, or touching the back of a crab. 

Bring the Fun Home

It is best to decide your souvenir policy before your trip. Will this be a time when a collection of photos is the memento of the day, or are you okay with bringing home a gaggle of stuffed sea creatures? If you plan on purchases, will you be footing the bill, or will your child be bringing his piggy bank? In most aquariums, all roads lead to the gift shop. To avoid a meltdown, stick with the rule: If you’re not going to buy, don’t browse. One budget-friendly idea would be to create a small photo book of the pictures taken while on your trip. You could even upload photos to your local photo store as you leave the aquarium. While custom books take time to print, you could pick up your photos on your way home and simply slide them into an inexpensive photobook. Voila! A quick and easy keepsake of your adventure.

A trip to an aquarium is an engaging and educational way to spend a day. Time spent together–plus newfound knowledge about sea animals and their habitats–is sure to make this a fun day trip for your family.

From Acadia National Park in Maine to the Channel Islands in California and everywhere in between, the national parks are treasures of North America. These 59 historic places offer families the opportunity to see the beauty and majesty of the United States first hand. The national parks in the United States spread across 27 states and a few U.S. territories. These landmarks serve as amazing destinations for family vacations. Whether you plan a day trip to a park near you, or you set out on a cross-country trip with one of these destinations in mind, the national parks offer a beautiful backdrop for making memories with your family.

Planning Your Trip

The National Park Service is the best place to start when planning your trip. The National Park Service was created in 1916 to preserve and manage the scenery, the natural and historic objects, and the wildlife of North America, while leaving these places of natural beauty unharmed for the enjoyment of future generations. No matter which national park you visit, you are sure to discover amazing scenery and outdoor adventure for your family. The National Park Service website offers trip ideas, as well as information about what you can do at each park.


The National Park Service works hard to ensure that the parks are kid-friendly by offering young visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service as Junior Rangers, an activity-based program conducted in almost all parks. Junior Rangers are typically between the ages of 5 to 13, although people of all ages can participate. To become a Junior Ranger, park visitors participate in a series of activities during a park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate.

Bring the Basics

When visiting a national park bring a lunch snacks, plenty of water, bug repellent, sunscreen, and a couple changes of clothes (if the park is near water, swimming gear may be a good call too).  There are always plenty of opportunities for children to get dirty when exploring a national park, that’s half the fun, but being prepared with extra clothes is a good idea. If you are bringing young children know that strollers can be both advantageous, and limiting, at many parks.

A trip to one of North America’s national parks is sure to provide many opportunities for both enjoyment and learning. It also holds the opportunity for a treasure trove of family memories. Like any good Junior Ranger, get your family out into the wild, where you can Explore, Learn, and Protect a national park!