Last week was our 4th wedding anniversary and we decided to take several day trips around NJ instead of one bigger trip. We are still new to living here and there are so many places to explore. New Jersey has many unique areas and environments for a small state.
Atlantic City is a sprawling peninsula/island in South New Jersey. Obviously known for it's casinos and gambling, it also has lovely wide beaches, protected wetlands, and is a stopping point for tons of shore birds. The aquarium is on the north west point of the land mass.
This aquarium is pretty small with two floors plus a bonus tiny third floor that is really more of an observation deck. The views are quite spectacular.
The Atlantic City Aquarium has been open since 1999 and houses many creatures, both local to the area and exotic. An interesting aspect of this aquarium is that there are lots of touch tanks scattered throughout the exhibits. We were able to see rays feeding and rushing around their tank and touch them as they sped by! There were horseshoe crabs and small sharks to touch as well.
There were quite a few workers there, minding the touch tanks, and available for questions. We talked with one for quite a while about a giant loggerhead sea turtle in one of the larger tanks. We learned that he was rescued and brought to the zoo about 15 years ago. He is blind and had beached himself, a sure sign he was close to death. Now 22 and living comfortably in the AC Aquarium he is hand fed squid and fish jello everyday and can live out his remaining 75 years in peace.
Outside the aquarium, there was a small village, amphitheater, and shops, which were not open while we were there and must be a Summer attraction. There was also a diving bell which had been an Atlantic City oddity. Visitor could pay to get submerged off one of the boardwalk piers.
This seems like a perfect place for smaller children and a good stopping point as you make your way thru NJ. There are docks, and other things to do in the immediate area, a seemingly small oasis from the rest of the City. AC is a bizarre mix of opulence and utter despair. Gold gilded casinos line some block while the next block seems completely burnt out or abandoned. Besides the aquarium I would like to visit the Absecon Lighthouse, which had closed by the time we got to it on this trip. While most of AC made me feel uneasy, the Atlantic City Aquarium was a peaceful place. I would definitely recommend this aquarium and will be coming back to visit in other seasons.