From its famous clam chowder to its equally famous harbor, Boston is a city defined by the sea. It makes sense, then, that this historic city is home to the 75,000-square-foot New England Aquarium, which welcomes more than 1.3 million visitors each year. A popular destination for school groups, the museum also attracts senior citizens’ groups and corporate groups eager to meet sea turtles, penguins, sea lions, and octopi.
And how are you going to get your group to the aquarium? That’s where we come in. Contact National Charter Bus at 617-275-8102 to find out more about what kinds of charter buses National offers and how you can book one for your aquarium visit.
With animals that range from adorable sea lions to eerie wolf-eels, the New England Aquarium offers educational insights for any class and entrancing sights for any visitor. You can take your time wandering through the exhibits, but if you’d like to plan your group’s itinerary ahead of time, here are some highlights you won’t want to miss:
Spanning four stories, the Giant Ocean Tank is so large that it was built first and the rest of the aquarium was constructed around it. Aquarium artisans created and painted the coral so the actual Carribbean reef didn’t have to be harmed, and the artificial reef now provides a home for more than 1,000 animals. Watch stingrays, moray eels, and barracuda drift past, and say hi to Myrtle the sea turtle, who has lived at the aquarium since June 1970.
During your journey through the aquarium, take a moment to stop and gaze upon the kaleidoscope of brilliant colors inside this floor-to-ceiling tank. Filled with 9,000 gallons of water, this concave exhibit provides a home for longnose butterflyfish, orangespine unicornfish, and tomato clownfish (Nemo!). As with the Giant Ocean Tank, the coral was made and painted at the aquarium to avoid harming the actual reef.
If you can see penguins, why wouldn’t you? 60 of these adorable creatures live in a colony inside the NEA. The aquarium’s penguin family includes the classic black-and-white African penguin and the rockhopper penguin, known for the eye-catching bright yellow feathers on its head.
Like the Indo-Pacific reef, this exhibit focuses on animals that dwell in the Pacific Ocean. The hermit crabs, sea stars, anemones, wolf-eels, and starry flounder inside the tank originally hail from the shoreline of Washington. The real star, though, is the giant Pacific octopus, known for its intelligence, its ability to problem solve, and its size.
If you’re traveling with a school group, you won’t want to miss this stop. Let your students reach into the water and gently stroke cownose rays, Atlantic rays, and epaulette sharks. Fun fact: epaulette sharks have been known to crawl onto land and “walk” on it. Show your kids a YouTube video of this phenomenon to hype them up for your visit to the aquarium.
Still excited from meeting the epaulette sharks in the touch tank? You can meet more sharks from around the world at the Science of Sharks. This exhibit focuses on smaller, lesser-known species, like the Halmahera walking shark and the horn shark.
Ready to see all these exciting creatures? Then it’s time to start planning your visit!
Let’s be honest: taking a large group anywhere isn’t easy. A quick stop to use the restroom or pick up burgers can quickly devolve into a 40-minute ordeal. You can make your trip to the aquarium as painless as possible by doing your research ahead of time, and the following info might help.
The aquarium offers discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more people. Discounted prices are $24 per adult, $22 per senior (60+), and $15 per child (3-11). Children under 3 are always free, and K-12 teachers in Boston public schools can get into the aquarium for free through the Teacher Pass Program. Call the aquarium’s Central Reservations line at 617-973-5206 to make group reservations and to ask questions about the Teacher Pass.
The aquarium’s hours are as follows:
Mon-Fri: 9 am-5 pm
Sat-Sun: 9 am-6 pm
Mon-Fri: 9 am-6 pm
Sat-Sun: 9 am-6 pm
The aquarium is busiest during the middle of the day, so you may want to plan your visit for as soon as the aquarium opens in the morning (great for school groups) or for after 3 pm (a good option for corporate or senior citizens’ groups). Morning and late-afternoon visits let you see more of the exhibits and make it less likely you’ll lose someone in the crowd.
Your bags must be under 12 inches long, 12 inches wide and 12 inches tall. The only exceptions are diaper bags and bags containing medical supplies. If you have a bag larger than that, you can leave it on the charter bus (charter buses offer plenty of storage space!) or check it into a locker at the aquarium. Lockers cost $4 or $6 a day depending on their size, though, so you may want to plan ahead and urge your group not to bring large bags.
If you’re traveling with a lot of people, you’ll have to find a way to feed all of them. The Harbor View Café serves sandwiches, soups, salads, and smoothies for lunch as well as hot and cold items for breakfast. You can also take advantage of the picnic tables on the outdoor Aquarium Plaza if you brought your own food.
On a field trip? The aquarium provides storage for bag lunches that students brought from home or that the school provided. Teachers can also request $10 vouchers for each of their students to use at Harbor View Café. This method may work better for middle or high school students who have experience putting together their own meals. Fortunately, Harbor View serves many healthy options!
The aquarium believes in the importance of accessibility, and National Charter Bus offers wheelchair-accessible buses so no one has to miss out on meeting seals and penguins. Visitors who use wheelchairs or have visual impairments can enter the aquarium free of charge. Special kits are available at the information desk for guests with sensory-processing needs, and ADA-defined service dogs are always welcome.
The aquarium also provides descriptive panels at all exhibits for guests with hearing impairments. Many of these panels feature large, bold typeface and colorful pictures so that they can assist the visually impaired or those with reading-related learning disabilities.
And now it’s time for one of the most difficult parts of the planning process: figuring out how to get there. The aquarium makes this especially hard because it has no designated parking. Guests who drive their own cars have to pay for parking in a nearby garage. Fortunately, public transportation is available, but it might be difficult to manage a train if you’re traveling with a large number of children or if you have mobility limitations.
If you hire a charter bus, you can be dropped off near the aquarium entrance, allowing your group to explore the exhibits while your experienced driver figures out where to park. School groups get an even better deal: the aquarium provides a bus parking permit for field trips, so the bus can park off-site for free.
Once you’re finished watching the sea turtles, climb back aboard the bus, settle into your cushioned seat and log onto the free WiFi. Call National Charter Bus at 617-275-8102 if you’d like to learn more about which charter buses are available or make a reservation.
The aquarium can host business gatherings, wedding receptions, anniversary parties, and bar and bat mitzvahs in six different venues. If your budget allows it, you can even rent out the entire aquarium.
Whether you’re holding a small bridal shower or a massive corporate celebration, you’ll need to make plans for catering and transportation. The aquarium provides an array of catering options, and National Charter Bus offers motorcoaches that accommodate anywhere from 18 to 56 people. (For an event that spans the entire aquarium, you may need more than one bus.) Let New England Aquarium make your event beautiful - National Charter Bus will make it easy.
If you’re looking forward to a day of touching rays and gazing at coral reefs, call National Charter Bus to arrange your transportation to the aquarium. Whether you’re a teacher escorting a field trip, an HR rep rewarding your employees, or an event planner organizing a party, National can help you pick out the right charter buses to meet your needs. Call us today at 617-275-8102 and get ready for a day surrounded by the beauty of the sea.