Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rainy Day Nature: the National Aquarium in DC

fish at the National AquariumDid you know there's an aquarium just off the mall, on 14th St.? Sure, it's nothing near the size of the Baltimore Aquarium. But it's closer, cheaper, and much less crowded.

The 250+ species at the National Aquarium are organized by ecosystem, highlighting the National Marine Sanctuaries of the US, major freshwater rivers, and the Amazon River. Highlights include alligators, beautiful tropical fish, pirahnas, some small sharks, poison dart frogs, and an invasive snakehead. Feedings are at 2:00 every day.

alligator at the National AquariumThe National Aquarium started in 1878 in some lakes by the Washington Monument. It moved around the Mall a few times until landing in the basement of the Commerce Building (then home of the Bureau of Fisheries) in 1932. In 1982, they lost their federal funding, and there have been some lean years. But in 2003, the aquarium affiliated with the Baltimore Aquarium, and they've since undergone a multi-million-dollar face-lift. It's definitely an improvement. So if you haven't been in a while, it might be worth another visit.

baby loggerhead at the National Aquarium
Hours: daily 9 AM to 5 PM (last admission at 4:30), except Christmas and Thanksgiving Day

$7 for ages 11 and up
$3 ages 2-10
$6 seniors and military

Public Transportation: Federal Triangle is the closest metro station.

National Aquarium
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230

Like the photos in this post? Mouse over for credits; a click takes you to the photographer on Flickr.