Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

Camping Near Aquariums Can Be Educational and Fun

By Rick Hazeltine

Kids always seem attracted to aquariums, whether they are five-gallon ones they can have in their room or the gigantic facilities that house thousands of plants and animals.

Nothing like an aquarium seems to spark a child’s imagination.

“Research shows that hands-on features — like opportunities to touch marine life — sustain interest, spark learning and create a fun visit for the whole family,” Angela Graziano, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told Parents magazine.

The magazine used that criteria is ranking the top 10 aquariums for kids. Visiting one of the nation’s best aquariums can be a fun and educational family activity when you consider camping locations for your next vacation. makes camping near the top aquariums easy with our online listing and ratings of campgrounds. Here are the top 10 aquariums for kids and information on camping locations near the attractions.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

One of the favorite activities at the aquarium located in Monterey, Calif., just south of San Francisco include the Touch Pool, where kids can see and touch many of the plants and animals that live in a kelp forest, including sea stars, abalones, sea urchins and kelp crabs.

Other popular spots for kids are the Kelp Forest Canopy Walkthrough, interactive games, the penguin exhibit and the water play area.

Marina Dunes RV Park, rated 4W by, is located in nearby Marina. For other California camping locations near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, visit

Photo courtesy of Georgia Acquarium Georgia Aquarium

At 8 million gallons, this aquarium in Atlanta is the largest in the world. That means there is no shortage of kid-friendly activities. Ocean Voyager is the largest single exhibit in the world and was built specifically to house whale sharks, the largest fish species in the world. The 100-foot long underwater tunnel allows perfect viewing of the stingrays, hammerhead sharks and trevally jacks that call the aquarium home.

The Georgia camping location closer to downtown Atlanta, you can find plenty of options at

John G. Shedd Aquarium

Located in Chicago, the aquarium features an array of Waters of the World. Exhibit areas include Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising’s flooded forest, the Oceanarium’s Pacific Northwest Coast and Wild Reef’s Indo-Pacific Reef. There is also the Polar Play Zone, one of the most popular exhibits for kids.

For Illinois campgrounds near Chicago, visit

Photo courtesy of New England Aquarium - Giant Ocean Tank New England Aquarium

Located in Boston, the aquarium has exhibits on the gulf of Maine, Atlantic Harbor seals and vibrant coral reefs from the Bahamas to Australia. Kids especially find the seadragons fun to try and find as they are experts in camouflage.

Children will also enjoy the Edge of the Sea touch tank. For a special treat consider the Trainer for a Morning and Play with the Seals programs.

For other Massaschusetts camping locations near Boston, visit

Florida Aquarium

This Tampa Bay aquarium features a Wild Dolphin Ecotour, which children and adults will find an experience to remember. Kids will also want to stop by the Explore a Shore, an outdoor water fun zone.

For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, visit the Coral Reef Gallery that simulates an actual reef in the Dry Tortugas near Key West, Fla. Participants must be at least 6 years old and kids under 9 must be accompanied by a parent. Participation includes wearing a small SCUBA tank, regulator and flotation device. No prior diving experience is required. has awarded two nearby RV parks with its exclusive 5W rating — Bayou Bay RV Resort and Lazy Days RV Park.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options when looking for Florida camping locations near the Florida Aquarium.

Aquarium of the Pacific

The aquarium located in Long Beach, Calif., focuses on the Pacific Ocean with exhibits Southern California/Baja, the Tropical Pacific and the Northern Pacific. One of the most popular exhibits is the Sea Otter Habitat.

Another popular stop for kids is the Lorikeet Forest, where the colorful birds may land for a rest on your arm or head. Shark Lagoon is always a big draw, with 150 sharks, even some that you can touch.

For more California camping near the Aquarium of the Pacific, visit locations near Long Beach.

Atlantis Marine World

Located on Long Island, the aquarium is inspired by the mythical Lost City of Atlantis. The aquarium is one of the newest in the nation, having opened in 2000. The most popular attraction is the Sea Lion Show, but there is plenty more to see, including the Ray Bay touch tank.

During the summer, kids can participate in the Pirate Snorkel Adventure, where they will be fitted with a wet suit, life preserver, snorkel gear and, of course, an eye patch.

Cliff and Ed’s Trailer Park and the Eastern Long Island Kampground are both rated 4W by Woodall's.

Oregon Coast Aquarium

Newport, on the state’s coast, is home to this aquarium, which features Swampland as its newest exhibit. Swampland consists of three swamps — the Pantanal, mangrove and cypress. It also has a crawl-through tank where you can experience swimming with the piranhas. Another crawl-through exhibit simulates an alligator burrow.

For more Oregon camping locations near the Oregon Coast Aquarium, visit for plenty of options.

Photo courtesy of SeaWorld - Dolphin Encounter SeaWorld

The chain of aquariums is more well known for their animal shows, but they also feature impressive aquariums. SeaWorld has locations in San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando. can help you find a camping location near any of the SeaWorld stops you plan to make. For San Diego camping, Mission Bay RV Resort is rated 3W. In Orlando, Tropical Palms Resort in nearby Kissimmee has a 5W rating. In San Antonio, check out Traveler’s World RV Resort, a 4W facility.

National Aquarium

Located in Baltimore, the aquarium’s most popular exhibit is its Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes, which features flying foxes, lizards and crocodiles. Kids will especially enjoy Our Ocean Planet: the New Dolphin Show. is a great source for finding a Maryland camping location near Baltimore.

Learn more about Woodall's exclusive 5W campground rating system.