There's a lot to do at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium on Dubuque's Riverfront. The aquarium itself isn't huge; in fact, my kids wondered if we'd missed it. Instead, it's a series of smaller habitat aquariums. The aquariums are interwoven with museum exhibits in two large buildings. All of the exhibits are focused on the Mississippi River and waterways in general.
Favorites were the Mark Twain area, the river otters, and the lizard exhibit. There's also a children's waterworks area.
Wristbands allow you to come and go all day, so we visited part of the museum, went on a riverboat ride, and then went back. Concessions and gifts are available.
The museum and aquarium are nicely put together, and staff were very friendly and helpful. A nice stop in Dubuque.
Admission is not cheap ($15 adults, $10 kids) but if you're a member of your local zoo you may get a half-price discount.
The only reason I gave this three stars is that the cost was a little high for my liking. All that being said we had an AWESOME time and the kids LOVED it.
We had other plans for the day we found ourselves at the National River Museum and I am glad we did. The kids were fascinated to wander around exploring and seeing the wide variety of activities this museum had to offer. We had kids with us ranging from 3 months to 7 years old. There were lots of hands on activities for the kids as well as some opportunities to pet fish and interact with many exhibits. There is a water play area on the top floor as well that the kids LOVED. While they provided aprons to help the kids stayed dry as you well know this only wards of the wetness to a certain point and all the kids earned a change of clothes.
The kids would have loved to have stayed and watched the fish for hours, the aquarium was impressive indeed. The riverboat portion of the museum wasn't as exciting to the kids as the real animals however they did enjoy a quick look through of the aspect of the museum as well.
I was thankful that we had a couple baby carriers with us as a few of the younger members of our party's legs got tired with all of the walking and managed to squeeze in a nap while being carried while the older's continued to explore.
The staff were AMAZING and were phenomenal with the kids and were ridiculously patient and informative as our kids asked questions and learned about the Mississippi River and its habitants.
We have been to the river museum 2 times. The 1st time we went because our 6 year old wanted to know what exactly lived in the Mississippi River. The 2nd was with family for a birthday weekend adventure. There are many exhibits at the musuem, most of them are designed for older children or adults. However, my kids really liked the Lizards on the Loose exhibit they had upstairs (don't worry, they are behind glass). Another favorite was the large steamboat outside which you can tour! We enjoyed the Aquariums, movies, and informational reading - just wish there was more to enjoy with young children. I think we will return when both girls are older.
There were many hands on activities for children to learn about the animals and ecosystems along the Mississippi. As well as, many different animals and fish for the kids to see. It was great to learn more about our local habitats. It is definitely a good day outing for the family.
This Museum and Aquarium has been a great addition to the Downtown Dubuque area! New attractions are constantly being added, the newest being the addition of a 3D theater – which makes this place even that much more cool to visit! We’ve spent many lazy Saturday afternoons wandering through the Aquarium. The exhibits always grab my children’s attention and teach them something new about nature and wildlife each time we visit. The cost of admission can be steep, but they offer a great price on a year-long pass that is definitely worth looking into if you plan to visit more than a couple times each year.
This museum is rated 5 stars, mostly because they are so amazing with their generous scholarships. My husband is in grad school and I'm a stay at home mom, so money is tight. Normal tickets to go here cost a fortune...like $15ish a person. It is definitely not worth that. But if you qualify for any sort of government assistance program, they will give you a free scholarship to the museum. It's now our favorite spot to go! The kids love watching the fish and playing in the boat area. But we only spend maybe an hour there each visit and then run out of things to do, so definitely not worth the $60 it would cost to pay out of pocket to go.