The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a must-see when planning your visit to the Oregon Coast! Watch sea otters play, touch starfish and learn about ocean conservation at the OCAq.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a must-see when planning your visit to the Oregon Coast!  Watch sea otters play, touch starfish and learn about ocean conservation at the OCAq.

This post is in collaboration with the Oregon Coast Aquarium. All thoughts and opinions are 100% mine.

While on our 10-day California and Oregon Coast road trip, my family and I made sure to stop in Newport, OR. As I planned our trip, multiple people recommended the Oregon Coast Aquarium as a must-see family activity. We scheduled it into our itinerary and when the day came for our visit, my kids were so excited!

During our visit, I had the opportunity to talk to one of the staff, Courtney, who gave me a lot of great information about what makes the Oregon Coast Aquarium so amazing. By the time we left, our family had a whole new appreciation for ocean life and ocean conservation.

I’ve included some of the questions I asked about the Oregon Coast Aquarium in a Q/A format so you can get a feel for the kind of experience you can expect from your visit. You will also find our family’s overall experience at the end of this post.

What makes the Oregon Coast Aquarium different from other aquariums?

One of the most surprising things to my family was that the Oregon Coast Aquarium has both indoor and outdoor habitats. The Aquarium has worked hard to create interesting enclosures that make it easy for guests to see the sea life inside them. Outside habitats include sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, octopus and the seabird aviary. Indoor habitats include starfish, jellyfish, sharks, rockfish, sea urchins and anemones. With over 15,000 animals spanning across 300 species, you’re sure to see something new.

Photo Credit: Oregon Coast Aquarium

Another unique aspect of the OCAq is that the water they use in their habitats comes straight from the bay. The water cycles through the different habitats and is then returned to the ocean, cleaner than when it came in.

Lastly, the OCAq has an AZA accreditation. The AZA, which stands for Association of Zoos & Aquariums, is the gold standard for how zoos and aquariums should be run. Less than 10% of the more than 2800 animals exhibitors registered by the USDA have AZA accreditation.

What unique attractions or encounters does the aquarium offer?

The mission of the Oregon Coast Aquarium is “to create unique and engaging experiences that connect you to the Oregon coast and inspire ocean conservation.” The OCAq is a living classroom, full of opportunities to learn about the ocean, its sea life and what you can do to help. All the animals at the aquarium are native to the Oregon Coast.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a must-see when planning your visit to the Oregon Coast!  Watch sea otters play, touch starfish and learn about ocean conservation at the OCAq.

Here are some of the encounters you can experience while there:

  • Behind the Scenes Tour
    • Travel behind the scenes to explore the ins and outs of caring for over 15,000 animals every day. Requires climbing two flights of stairs unassisted.
    • Length: The tour lasts 45-60 minutes.
    • Cost: $12 (Aquarium members), $15 (non-members) *Does NOT include Aquarium admission.
    • Ages: 8+
  • Sea Jelly Touch Encounter
    • Visitors will learn about these ancient invertebrates and have a chance to touch the non-stinging “bell,” or top of the moon jelly. Includes access to the behind-the-scenes sea jelly growing area, where guests will discover the sea jelly program and view jellies at various life stages (that’s right—baby sea jellies!).
    • Length: The encounter lasts about 30 minutes.
    • Cost: $12 (Aquarium members), $15 (non-members) *Does NOT include Aquarium admission.
    • Ages: 8+
  • Octopus Encounter
    • Learn about the Giant Pacific Octopus and get a “slimy handshake”. Includes a behind-the-scenes tour and educational information about the care of this amazing invertebrate.
    • Length: This encounter lasts about 45 minutes.
    • Cost: $35 (Aquarium members), $40 (non-members) *Does NOT include Aquarium admission.
    • Ages: 8+
  • Passages of the Deep
    • Shark Tunnel: Walk through a tunnel where sharks swim around, over, and even under you!
  • Coastal Waters
    • Touch Tank: Gently touch starfish, sea anemones and spiny sea urchins.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a must-see when planning your visit to the Oregon Coast!  Watch sea otters play, touch starfish and learn about ocean conservation at the OCAq.

Why should families make sure to include the Oregon Coast Aquarium on their visit?

There’s something about visiting the habitats where animals live that gives you a greater appreciation for them. When you visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium, you leave with a desire to apply what you learn to the rest of your adventures. The more you connect with animals and nature, the more real their need for our help becomes. Additionally, the OCAq is a resource for accurate information about many of your favorite sea life creatures and the ocean, but especially those on the Oregon Coast!

And as if the above reasons aren’t enough, it’s a great place to let the kids get out and stretch their legs! There is a lot of space for kids to explore plus they even have a new nature play area.

How can people who live in places that aren’t near the ocean help sea life?

Not everyone lives near the ocean, but we are all impacted by it. When you visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium, it’s easy to see how much they care about educating guests so that they leave more aware of and connected to the ocean and the sea life in it. When it all comes down to it, individual action and personal responsibility are what will make the biggest impact on our oceans.

Here are a few ideas for how to create a connection with ocean life:

  • Live cameras: The OCAq has live cameras on their website where you can tune in any time and see what the sea animals are up to! They have them for the sea otters, sharks and seabirds.
  • Proper disposal of pollutants: Check online before you dispose of pollutants, so they don’t end up in the water and hurting plant, animal and human life.
  • Responsible recycling: Throw your trash away, put plastic bottles in the recycling and reuse what you can to help keep our water and by extension, our oceans, clean.
  • Mindful of businesses you support: It never hurts to be aware of how the businesses you are supporting are disposing of their waste.
  • Positive comments and engaging on social media: Follow the Oregon Coast Aquarium on Instagram at @oregoncoastaquarium to stay up to date on what’s happening at the aquarium and learn fun facts about sea life.

Our Family’s Experience at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a must-see when planning your visit to the Oregon Coast!  Watch sea otters play, touch starfish and learn about ocean conservation at the OCAq.

My kids love animals so going to an aquarium right on the Oregon Coast was a no-brainer. Our favorite attractions were the sea otters, walking through the shark tunnel and the touch tank. When we were done seeing the animals, we let our kids get some more wiggles out at the new playground area. They have plenty of activities for a variety of ages. We had a hard time pulling them away!

Overall, I would absolutely recommend visiting the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It was family-friendly, informative, clean, beautiful and lots of fun.

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