If you’re looking for a fun and educational day trip close to AP that’s suitable for the young and young at heart, then look no further than the Pine Knoll Shores aquarium. The aquarium is located 38 miles from Arlington Place and is a great excuse for riding the free ferry between Minnesott Beach and Cherry Branch (as if one really needs an excuse…) This aquarium offers a variety of exhibits and activities that are sure to delight your entire family.

Despite having lived in Pamlico County for years I’ve never been to the aquarium. So when my daughter’s class at the Agape Community Preschool planned a field trip for the kids I decided it was high time I experienced it too. We arrived early in the morning and were greeted by an enthusiastic group of kids, parents and aquarium staff. The kids were already having a blast and were excited to see the otters and turtles in their natural habitats.

Once inside the aquarium, the kids were immediately drawn to the colorful fish and exotic sea creatures on display. We began our tour with the sea turtle experience which engaged the kids and educated me about sea turtles. We even had the opportunity to see a young turtle up close which was totally cool. I had no idea sea turtles lived as long as they do and that marine scientists can’t readily determine their sex until they’re about 25 years old!

The layout of the aquarium is a mountains to sea experience that highlights the unique aquatic life of each region. So after the sea turtle experience was finished we headed over to the freshwater exhibit, which showcased a variety of fish species native to North Carolina’s rivers and streams. The kids were fascinated by the giant catfish and other fish, and we spent some time watching them swim around their tanks.

We then moved on to the saltwater tanks, which were filled with even more colorful fish and sea creatures. We loved seeing the different habitats, such as coral reefs and rocky shores, and we spent some time watching the fish swim around. They were especially excited to see scuba divers and a shark swimming in one of the tanks.

One of the highlights of our visit was the jellyfish exhibit. It was a dark room filled with glowing tanks, each containing different species of jellyfish. The colorful and graceful movements of the jellyfish were amazing, and we spent some time just watching them swim around. It was a unique and memorable experience that we’ll all remember for a long time.

The aquarium also had several touch tanks, where the kids were able to get up close and personal with some of the animals. They were able to touch a sea star and a sea urchin, which was a unique experience. There were also several interactive exhibits, where we could learn about marine conservation and the importance of protecting our oceans. Volunteers were on hand at each exhibit and were more than willing to share their knowledge with the curious kids.

Finally, we ended our visit at the indoor play area. This area was designed for children, with soft & squishy floors, bubbly water tanks, and aquatic play structures. The kids had a blast playing on the turtles and bouncing through the underwater cave area. It was a fun and lighthearted way to end the day.

Our visit to the Pine Knoll Shores aquarium was a fantastic experience for the kids and the adults. The variety of exhibits and interactive displays were informative for the adults and kept the kids engaged and excited throughout the day. We all learned a lot about the marine life of North Carolina and the importance of conservation efforts.

If you’re looking for a fun and educational day trip that’s suitable for young kids and adults, I highly recommend adding the Pine Knoll Shores aquarium to your itinerary. It’s a great way to spend a day, whether you’re traveling solo or with family and friends.