Touch a shark! Play with the penguins! Experiences such as these happen every day at Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio. Here over 7,000 aquatic creatures from around the world have been gathered in a million gallons of fun.
Following the map on this World Aquatic Tour, visits are made to every continent, every ocean and lots of waterways in between. Excitement begins as many walkways actually are tunnels through the ocean scene. There are fish swimming above, below, and on both sides…surrounding visitors with the feeling of actually walking on the ocean floor. Two hundred feet of tunnels, somehow constructed of acrylic without seams, amaze the eye. Many aquatic creatures soar overhead or pass under everyone’s feet…even a legendary giant sea turtle!
Jellyfish Gallery displays over one hundred jellyfish that possess that magical ability to illuminate under water, making for quite an attractive display. Located in clear tubes, the mesmerizing jellyfish float with ease while performing their elegant dance. Recent research indicates that the protein extracted from jellyfish may help keep human brain cells alive longer. Just another great reason to enjoy watching them. Youngsters also have fun playing tag with the moon jellies on the Jelly Wall, or hop their way to excitement on Frogger, a video game part of the Frog Bog exhibit. Here’s the perfect place to take a break from walking, sit down on the benches and watch the jellyfish and the children at play. You might be tempted to join in the games!
The Shark Tank draws children and the young at heart like bears to honey. After instruction on the proper method for petting a shark, supervised touching is allowed. The official “two-finger” technique gently rubs the shark from front to back. Actually the sharks really enjoy this experience as it produces a satisfying electrical connection for them…reiki for sharks! Young boys especially, return again and again to pet these dangerous creatures. And yes, this writer experienced the thrill of it personally.
Penguin Palooza features cold-water penguins in temperatures similar to those in their natural Antarctic home. The viewing area has seating so you can give your feet a break, while watching the antics of these cute little guys in their tuxedos. If you want to play with the penguins an additional fee is charged and children must be accompanied by an adult.
Newport on the Levee combines a fantastic entertainment area with an outstanding shopping complex. Besides Newport Aquarium, guests will find movie theaters, live concerts, Fun Zone, Ride the Ducks, exclusive places to shop, and of course, fine dining establishments. There is something here for the entire family so you might as well stay for a day or two at the hotels located in Newport.
Close by is the Purple People Bridge, the longest pedestrian bridge connecting two states, Ohio and Kentucky. Formerly tracks for the L&N Railroad built in 1872, it now provides a pleasant half mile walk across the Ohio River. What a great place to relax on the frequent benches, and watch the busy boat traffic down below.
While Newport Aquarium was probably originally designed for youngsters, adults also can have an interesting day learning about aquatic creatures from all over the world. Lose yourself in an underwater experience of unusual and interesting sea creatures. If you need to call the aquarium, use a “shell” phone!
Newport Aquarium is easily reached from I-471 at Exit #5 in Kentucky. Follow Route 8 and signs will lead you easily into the parking garage for Newport on the Levee. Admission is $23 for adults and $15 for children (ages 2-12). For additional information please visit their website at www.newportaquarium.com .