The Aquarium at Fort Fisher was on our “swing by if you have time” list—almost an afterthought. What a shame it would have been if we hadn’t made it! Located in picturesque Kure Beach, at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, this family-friendly attraction is not to be missed.
Whether it’s spying on an albino alligator in the Conservatory or feeling a live shark in one of the “touch tanks,” there is something of interest at every turn. Test your dolphin knowledge with an interactive quiz. Marvel at the beauty of seahorses and jellyfish. Have your photo taken inside the mouth of a crab. Or dig for your very own souvenir shark’s tooth. You can even grab a snack at the outdoor café or pick up a postcard for Uncle Ned at the gift shop.
Had we the time, our family could easily have spent several hours at the aquarium. We managed to breeze through the interior in under two—but we still had more to see. We wound our way through the outdoor gardens (it’s easy to get lost out here, so look for the signs or ask for directions), and found the Butterly Bungalow. We were fortunate to be there on a day that wasn’t busy, and we had the place nearly to ourselves. It. Was. A.Maz.Ing. Gorgeous, colorful, enormous butterflies—everywhere! They were so active, often landing on us before fluttering away. You’re given a photo card when you enter, so you can identify your favorites. There are a variety of colorful flowers and plants to attract these awesome creatures, and there are benches where you can sit and enjoy the tranquility. Before exiting, you’ll be checked to make sure there are no stow-aways attached to you. Step with care—these beauties are all over, including on the path where you walk.
The Aquarium at Fort Fisher is not as large as some aquariums we have visited, but what it lacks in size it makes up in value. At just $10.95 for adults and $8.95 for kids 3-12 (military and seniors are $8.95; children 2 and under are free), you get a lot of bang for your buck. Be sure to spring for the extra $3 ticket to the Butterfly Bungalow—definitely worth it. And if you live nearby or visit often, consider joining the North Carolina Aquarium Society. For just $75, your entire family (two parents and all children) will get unlimited admission to the Fort Fisher Aquarium, as well as the aquariums at Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island. (Membership also entitles you to reciprocal privileges and discounts at over 150 zoos and aquariums across the US.)
Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary visit to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. I received no other compensation and these opinions are my own.
First time to this aquarium. I loved the interactive tanks throughout although because of my child's height she was not allowed to pet the baby sharks. Overall it was a fun aquarium but I think I am just used to the size of the Baltimore Aquarium which is currently my all time favorite!
We were nearby visiting Grandma and Pop-pop and wanted to do something other than just sit on the beach. We packed up the kids big and small and headed to the Aquarium. We were NOT disappointed. The kids loved the touch table, oh heck so did I. The best part was that while they were touching they were learning. We are planning another trip real soon and you can bet we will be returning here.
While on vacation at Carolina Beach, we made the short drive down to the Aquarium at Ft. Fisher. We had a nice time. It wasn't too pricey. And there were some cool things like an albino alligator and a petting pool of horseshoe crabs. But, we went through the whole place in just a couple of hours. Nothing held our 3 year old's attention for very long except the big tank.
It made a nice break from our beach vacation, but we would have been disappointed if we had driven all the way to the shore just for this one.
Our family used to live in the Wilmington area and were members of the aquarium. Since our daughter was under the age of 4, she normally sped through the entire thing, pausing only briefly to view the large aquarium tank. She really enjoyed the outdoor section, especially where kids could dig for shark teeth. Since she is older now, she takes her time for the ocean portion of the aquarium! She still isn't interested in the river aquariums.
This is a great little aquarium. It's a great option when the beach is cold or rainy. It's never really busy, so you don't have to worry about crowds. We only had a problem with the school field trips making it crowded, so call ahead of time, if possible. There were also hands-on pools where our kids love touching the creatures.
The fort fisher aquarium features the same things as the other NC Aquariums, from the touch tanks to the fish tanks of all shapes and sizes. While I personally believe that the prices of the NC Aquariums is to much for what you see, I recommend that you purchase an Aquarium pass (if you are a state resident) which will give your family one free year of admission to all of the NC Aquariums as well as the NC Zoo and many other Aquariums and Zoos around the USA.
This aquarium is beautiful from the very beginning to the end! When you first encounter the building they have a wonderful fountain outside. The kids enjoy having their pictures made in front every year. We love this aquarium so much that we bought a family membership for the year so that we can attend some of the special events without the extra cost!
We visit this aquarium nearly every summer while on vacation. My toddler loves it. He is mesmerized by the huge tanks. Riding the ferry to the Island is fun too. While many aquariums have more types of sea creatures, this is a fun place to visit, and your kids will enjoy it.
This aquarium offers fun and learning to the whole family! They have several different areas to explore, a touch and feel area, and some really giant tanks that make you feel as if you are under water too! The drive out to the aquarium is so pretty, you really get to see some "beach life" on the way there! We love this aquarium and highly recomend it! We have taken kids age 2-16 there and they all had a blast! (us adults too!)
My 3 and 5 year old loved this aquarium and my husband and I did too! The voluteers and staff are informative without being too "teachy". The jellyfish were my daughter's favorites. My son enjoyed the chance to touch a horseshoe crab. We have also visited the aquarium in Charleston, SC and Fort Fisher is ever-so-slightly better!
This aquarium is not as large as some others our family has been to, but we still enjoyed our trip there. We saw everything, and were only there about 2 hours. It was not too crowded, so we were able to see all the different exhibits and read the informational plaques. We especially enjoyed learning more about the wildlife and topography of North Carolina. Worth a look if you are in the area!
This is a wonderful stop on the way to the ferry which crosses over to Southport. It is hands on with lots of different learning environments. I have one kid who would stand near the shark tank all day if I let her. It is so cool. Don't be in a rush, there is too much to see.
This is a great aquarium to take the family to! It is located at Ft Fisher so might be a bit of a drive but it's worth it! There are kids activities in the museum, and tons of sea life to learn about. Also there are trails out back where you can walk through the marshes. There is one trail that goes to a hut a real hermit used to live in!
Even though this is a fairly small aquarium, it was great for my kids and the quaintness made it ideal since the kids got a chance to enjoy lots of hands-on fun without big crowds. We went during the spring, on a weekday and there were NO crowds and we had tons of time to just walk through and take our time.
We visited the Fort Fisher Aquarium a few years ago and I mostly remember the hands on exhibit. I never thought I would touch a horse shoe crab or any other crab for that matter. I love watching the kids learn about the sea life that live just a few miles away of the coast. What a great way to spend a rainy or sunburt day at the beach.
This was a nice aquarium.. however after visiting the Pine Knoll shores aquarium I wasn't too impressed with this one. It seems like the other is bigger. Overall its a great aquarium. Kids enjoyed them selves.. and as is with every aquarium the BIG tank is a hit!
This was just right for a field trip on vacation. It was fun for young and old. We took pictures in the sharks mouth. Lots of great fish. It isn't the biggest aquarium but for the money it was the best. The staff was very friendly and helpful. They loved our kids and it really showed in their actions.
This is a beautiful aquarium in Kure Beach, NC - a beautiful setting - fun day trip to go and then each picnic on beach afterwards. starts off with cool rainforest feel exhibit with aligators and snakes - then go to feel the sea animals and then end up at the huge shark tank and then awesome gift shop and snack shop.
The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher was a great side trip when we were visiting Carolina Beach. When we were there they were featuring the albino alligator. What an amazing creature! Our son is 15 months old and enjoyed being able to walk around and look without mommy and daddy worrying about him touching everything. His favorite part was getting to touch the starfish and the horseshoe crab. Great, hands on, area that kids and parents can enjoy!