It’s been a while since our family has been to the coast, so when our boys’ school decided they needed an additional week after Spring Break to get the classrooms ready for almost full-time, in-person school, we decided ocean breezes were calling our names. Since we haven’t been to Newport for a couple of years, that’s where we landed. And you just can’t stay in Newport without a visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium!
I knew the aquarium had reopened, but I wasn’t sure of the protocol until I did some research on their website. Tickets have to be purchased in advance online with an exact date and entry time. We chose Friday at 2:30 pm. And I have to tell you, if you haven’t been to OCA in a while, this is the time to go! They cap the number of people who can enter per time slot. Even my boys, both 11, remembered that the last time we visited we had to wait in a long line to get in. Not this time! We walked right up to the admissions window, presented our pre-purchased ticket with QR code, and walked right in — after some hand sanitizer, of course. And, it probably goes without saying these days — we were masked.
The only closed areas that I noticed were the hands-on touch pool and the outside play area at the end of the nature trail. Everything else was open — and EASY to see because there were so few people! My personal favorites, the otters, were happy to be adorable for us. And we enjoyed watching feeding time in the aviary and learning about the different birds. We also got to see the new octopus … although it was fairly snuggled into a dark corner, so we had to look pretty hard before we spotted it. And who tires of the mesmerizing jellyfish tanks and the underwater walkways? Not us!
The Aquarium has fun-fact signage reminding guests the importance of keeping 6-foot distances and washing hands. And flippers painted on the ground offer visual cues about keeping a safe distance from other guests. In June, the Oregon Coast Aquarium has a new exhibit opening called Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline. If you want a safe, fun outing for your family, I highly recommend spending some time at Oregon Coast Aquarium before you have to share it with the crowds again!
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