For my family, no trip to Virginia Beach is complete without a day at the Virginia Aquarium Marine Science Center. It is just a short easy drive from the beach area and is well worth the trip. The Museum features five main areas, the Bay and Ocean Pavilion, the Marsh Pavilion, a Nature Trail, hands on experiences, which the kids really like, and an IMAX theater. The Bay and Ocean Pavilion introduces you to the aquatic animals and plants that inhabit the rivers of Virginia, then the Chesapeake Bay and finally the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Take a walk on the Nature Trail through a salt marsh and woodland. Once at the Marsh Pavilion see the river otters and take a walk through the bird aviary.
Return to the Bay and Ocean Pavilion and have what we think is a decent and decently priced lunch at the Osprey Café. After lunch head over to the stingray pool. These rays have been debarbed and you can touch them when they glide by. Kinda icky, but interesting. Also make sure to check out the horseshoe crabs.
We always end our day with an IMAX show. There are usually two or three different shows to choose from, and they usually have something to do with sharks or whales or some other kind of marine life.
My boys loved the interactive exhibits, the sharks, rays and venomous snakes. My husband and I liked the otters and sea turtles. There really is something for everyone.
The hours during the summer vacation season are 9:00 am to 7:00 pm daily. Adult admission for the Aquarium and one IMAX is $16.95 and children get in for $12.95. I really don't think that is expensive for what you get. It is a nice, clean, family oriented day. The museum is staffed by mostly senior citizens, whom I assume are retirees. Most of them seem get a big kick out of the kids. Not a bad way to spend your golden years.
So, if you are at Virginia Beach, have had all the fun in the sun you can stand, need to keep some children, or maybe your parents, amused and don't want to spend the day at the mall, give the Virginia Aquarium Marine Science Center a try. I think you'll be glad you did.