The Oregon Coast Aquarium In Newport Oregon

Visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon

If you are looking for family vacation ideas, or simply a serene place for a get-away, the Oregon Coast offers year-round mild temperatures and stunning scenery. Of all the places to visit, the one that you should not miss is the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon.

Located on the Central Coast, the aquarium is easily accessible from all areas of Western Oregon. About 3 hours from Astoria, an hour from Corvallis, and 2 hours from the California border, Newport, Oregon is worth the drive.

According to the Oregon Coast Aquarium's official website:

Parents Magazine,Forbes Traveler, USA Today and Coastal Living named the Oregon Coast Aquarium among the top ten in the nation. Spirit Magazine called Passages of the Deep “The coolest 50 yards on the Oregon Coast!”

After our recent visit, I would have to agree! My 8-year old twins and I headed south along Highway 101 to Newport to go to the Oregon Coast Aquarium over Labor Day weekend. I've visited the Seattle Aquarium, the Seaside Aquarium and the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco.

In my opinion, the Oregon Coast Aquarium beats all of these venues, hands down. Here's why!

The entrance to the Oregon Coast Aquarium
The entrance to the Oregon Coast Aquarium | Source
Ready to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium
Ready to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium | Source

Overview of Attractions at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is easy to navigate, no matter your age. Most visitors will start with the Passages of the Deep, which takes you literally right through the ocean waters, allowing you to observe fish and other wildlife above, below and right next to you.

From there, you may head outdoors to the Nature Trail, which will take you past several popular animal exhibits, through the aquarium gardens, and along the natural estuary of the Yaquina Bay.

Indoor exhibits are arranged by different environments and eco-systems, including Coastal Waters, Sandy Shores, Rocky Shores and Swamplands. There are many interactive exhibits, including a special tide pool for children to touch starfish and sea anenomes. Visit the indoor theater, as well, which showcases informational films all day long.

Awks resemble penguins but they are a different species (Newport, Oregon aquarium)
Awks resemble penguins but they are a different species (Newport, Oregon aquarium) | Source

About the Oregon Coast Aquarium

The Oregon Coast Aquarium opened in its current location in Newport, Oregon in 1992. The world-class facility spans 23 acres of land along Yaquina Bay, on the West Coast of the United States, near the Pacific Ocean. While the attractions are top notch, the aquarium is probably best known for the time it was home to Keiko the Killer Whale (star of "Free Willy"). The whale made the Oregon Coast Aquarium his home for several years before he was returned to the wild in Oslo, Norway in 1998.

The aquarium originally was envisioned by local business leaders who proposed a facility to draw visitors and boost the local economy. Over a ten-year period, a non-profit organization was formed and raised $11 million to construct the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Where can I find the Oregon Coast Aquarium?

A markerOregon Coast Aquarium -
2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd, Newport, OR 97365, USA
[get directions]

Watching a school of fish
Watching a school of fish | Source
Watching marine animals in the outdoor aquarium exhibits from below surface
Watching marine animals in the outdoor aquarium exhibits from below surface | Source

Outdoor Attractions at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

The Nature Trail winds visitors around the outdoor attractions at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Be sure to visit the sea otters, the seals and sea lions, the octopus and the Aviary in which you'll see puffers and a relative of the penguins - Auks. Feeding schedules are posted so you can watch the seal do back-flips and wave for his meal, and enjoy the antics of the adorable sea otters.

A large number of volunteers are on site to answer questions and offer information about the animals' activities. They'll also remind small children to stay off the rocks and avoid tapping on the glass. Most of the outdoor attractions have several viewing locations. You can see the animals above the water, or walk down to a viewing location below the surface to watch them dive and spin!

The Oregon Coast can be windy and cool year round, with relatively mild temperatures usually hovering around from 50-60 F. Be sure to pack a jacket, hat and umbrella just in case. You won't want to miss the outdoor attractions just because its raining!

After you've seen the animals, be sure to continue around the trail to the outdoor children's play area, or simply to view the serenity of Yaquina Bay. Educational signs and plaques are posted to provide additional information about the eco-system and environment.

The outdoor trail at the Oregon Coast Aquarium
The outdoor trail at the Oregon Coast Aquarium | Source

Seal Puts on a Show at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

Children can get hands on at this tidal pool at the Oregon Coast Aquarium
Children can get hands on at this tidal pool at the Oregon Coast Aquarium | Source

Indoor Attractions

The Oregon Coast Aquarium has many indoor attractions, which is good for those cold, rainy days, but also educational no matter the weather outdoors! No visit to the aquarium is complete without walking through the Passages of the Deep. Surround yourself with sea life above, below and all around you! My children loved watching sharks swim all around.

Four different environments are showcased, as well: Coastal Waters, Sandy Shores, Rocky Shores and Swamplands. Visitors can learn about the variety in eco-systems and the sea life that is unique to each. Large and small exhibits are included, from alligators to piranhas and seahorses to starfish.

Lots of educational materials, exhibits and volunteers are on hand to answer questions and provide more information!

Beautiful jellyfish at the Oregon Coast Aquarium
Beautiful jellyfish at the Oregon Coast Aquarium | Source
Fun places for young children to burn off energy at the Oregon Coast Aquarium
Fun places for young children to burn off energy at the Oregon Coast Aquarium | Source

Aquarium Attractions Especially for Children (ages 3-11)

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is family-friendly for kids of all ages! Great effort has been made to keep children entertained and engaged.

My 3rd grade children loved reading all the information plaques posted around the aquarium. But they are also still young enough to have enjoyed climbing on the outdoor play structures, crawling through swampy "logs" and climbing on the indoor mangrove "roots." The outdoor tidal pool was a big hit, as well. Other interactive exhibits include an explorers tent in the Swampland section.

For tired kids ages 4 and under, you can rent a stroller (single or double). There is also an on-site restaurant to feed hungry children that could get cranky!

Of course, there is a gift shop, as well! A wide selection of souvenirs, t-shirts and sweatshirts and even cameras to record your visit, is offered.

Outdoor play area for young children at the Oregon Coast Aquarium
Outdoor play area for young children at the Oregon Coast Aquarium | Source

Oregon Coast Aquarium Hours, Admission and other Details

Hours: The Oregon Coast Aquarium is open every day of the year, except December 25 (Christmas). Winter hours (the day after Labor Day through Memorial Day) are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Summer Hours (the day after Memorial Day through Labor Day) are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Check the website for special events and/or closures.

Admission: (discount with AAA):

  • Adults (Ages 18-64): $15.95
  • Seniors (Ages 65+): $13.95
  • Young Adults (Ages 13-17): $13.95
  • Children (Ages 3-12): $9.95
  • Infants & Toddlers (Ages 0-2): Free

Parking: There are several large parking lots adjacent to the aquarium. Plenty of room to park and its free!

Large groups/tours: School groups and other field trips may be eligible for a discounted admission rate. Be sure to call in advance to make arrangements: 541-867-3474.

Strollers and wheelchairs are available for rent at the front entrance.

This Great White Shark jaw is a perfect photo opportunity at the Oregon Coast Aquarium
This Great White Shark jaw is a perfect photo opportunity at the Oregon Coast Aquarium | Source
Lots of educational posters and a variety of smaller displays at the aquarium too
Lots of educational posters and a variety of smaller displays at the aquarium too | Source

Don't Miss these Cool Attractions

There is plenty to see at the Oregon Coast Aquarium! Be sure to budget at least 2 hours for your visit. Our favorite attractions include:

  • The giant shark jaw (pictured above)
  • The Passages of the Deep tunnel
  • Watching the seal perform for his food
  • Standing "inside" the piranha tank (you can go under the tank and stand up in an enclosed area while the fish swim around you)
  • The seahorses!
  • The touching tidepool

Tuffted Puffins and Auks Swim in the Aviary at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

Starfish in the tidal pool of the sandy shoreline environment
Starfish in the tidal pool of the sandy shoreline environment | Source

Support the Aquarium

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It relies heavily on donations (usually tax deductible) from individuals and other organizations. Even if you cannot visit the aquarium in person, consider making a donation to this one - or to your local aquarium.

You can learn more and stay in touch with the latest happenings at the Oregon Coast Aquarium by becoming a fan on Facebook and/or following it on Twitter.

Tidal pool in the Rocky Shoreline section of the Oregon Coast Aquarium
Tidal pool in the Rocky Shoreline section of the Oregon Coast Aquarium | Source
Children can crawl through special displays to engage their imagination at the Newport Oregon aquarium
Children can crawl through special displays to engage their imagination at the Newport Oregon aquarium | Source

© 2011 Stephanie Hicks

More by this Author


Comments 24 comments

Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Hi, Steph

I love everything to do with the seas and oceans and this looks amazing. I doubt I'll ever get to visit this precise aquarium but that is my loss. They are wonderful places for all age groups but especially as a way to introduce children to nature and the magnificence of the oceans.

Hope you are well,

Gordon


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Gordon,

Thank you so much!! I only regret that I could not easily include my 50 or so photos and 10-15 videos I took that day. We had a fabulous time and I agree that aquariums in general are so educational and fun for people of all ages. Best to you as always, Steph


robie2 profile image

robie2 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

What a marvelous family outing and I love the pix. This is an absolute must see I think, for children of all ages:-)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Robie,

We had a marvelous time! I wish my teenage sons had joined me too, because I know they would have had a great time at the aquarium (especially since my oldest has aspirations of becoming a marine biologist!) Thanks for the comment! Best to you, Steph


Princessa profile image

Princessa 5 years ago from France

What a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing, I am very far away from Oregon, but reading about its Aquarium remainded me of fun times visiting similar places in Europe.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Princessa,

I'd love to visit an aquarium in a foreign country! Oregon has a terrific aquarium - I believe - in large part because people in this state are environmentally conscious. Educating the public about our precious marine resources and the wildlife therein is key. Thanks for the comment. Hope you do make it to Oregon someday. Cheers, Steph


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

Cool twins, cool pictures and definitely a cool place to visit. I've never been to Oregon but would love to some day. Thanks for the heads-up--will remember to check the aquarium out. Rated up.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Anginwu, there are many interesting places to visit along the Oregon Coast and Highway 101. Newport and the Oregon Coast Aquarium are definitely must-see attractions. Hope you get to come to Oregon one day. Best, Steph


Reprieve26 profile image

Reprieve26 5 years ago from Oregon Coast

As a resident of the Oregon Coast, I've been to the Newport Aquarium several times. I LOVE that place! The best part is they have a large space designated for a changing exhibit. So, in additional to re-visiting all of my old favorites, every time I go they have a new exhibit as well. For example, a few years ago they had an exhibit on turtles (all sizes, shapes, colors, etc.). The last time I went they had an exhibit called "Odd Waters" that highlighted all sorts of really strange lifeforms that lived in water (ie: fish that swam up and down. They looked almost like skinny white pens-- very odd!). If you're ever in the area, the Newport Aquarium is well worth the visit! :)

Thanks for sharing this hub. It brought back a lot of good memories. I'm going to have to re-visit again one of these days!

Voted up and awesome!


Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Sounds like a wonderful trip, Steph! One of these days my husband and I intend to drive down the Oregon coast. After reading your hub I just want to go NOW!

Glad you had fun,

Cloverleaf.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Reprieve,

So glad to have someone who has been to the aquarium comment here! I visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium (like you, I always referred to it was the Newport Aquarium) years ago, before we had children - and when Keiko was there! It was so much fun to go with my kids this time and see it through their eyes. What a wonderful facility, and you are right about the rotating exhibits. Keeps it fresh and interesting. Cheers, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Cloverleaf - it was a great way to finish our summer! We are fortunate to have a family cabin about 2 hours north along the Oregon Coast, so we will have to plan another visit to the aquarium next time we head that direction. It is definitely worth the trip! Hope you go soon and enjoy! Steph


MikeNV profile image

MikeNV 5 years ago from Henderson, NV

About a decade ago we went there and it was a really bad day almost all the animals were "hiding". Couldn't see anything. A Big dissapointment. I really hope that it has improved since then. Back then it was $7 each to get in. From your pictures it looks vastly improved.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Mike,

I do think that the aquarium has improved a great deal since I last visited about a decade ago, as well. The only animal we couldn't see very well was the octopus. Most of the others were out during feeding time and quite active.

Hope you get a chance to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium again soon! Best, Steph


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

We did not see the Aquarium when we vacationed in Oregon years ago but love visiting aquariums in general. Thanks for sharing information and your images. This one looks like it would definitely be worth a visit if ever in the area again. I can tell...your cute kids agree! :))


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Peggy,

If you like aquariums and visiting Oregon, then I hope you do get the chance to visit Newport! We did have a ball that day. :) Steph


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 5 years ago from Massachusetts

Sounds like a great place where the whole family can be entertain for the whole day,love the pictures you used to highlight this hub .


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Kashmir - I really enjoyed taking the photos and videos at the aquarium. Really fun place to visit with the family, and the surrounding areas of Newport and Lincoln City to the north along the Oregon Coast are quite fun. Cheers, Steph


Miss Paula profile image

Miss Paula 5 years ago

Nice hub looks like a lot of fun for the whole family. We are always looking for different places to visit. Nice pictures shows the different things the kids can do. Keep up the good work.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Miss Paula - I really enjoyed putting together this hub after our visit to the aquarium. Cheers to you, Steph


funmontrealgirl profile image

funmontrealgirl 5 years ago from Montreal

I would love to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium should I make my way to Newport, Oregon!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi funmontanagirl - I sure hope you can make your way to the Oregon Coast! So much to see and do here. Best, Steph


carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg

This looks like a great place to visit, a real family adventure. If I'm ever down that way, I will make sure to take it in. My daughter especially loves aquariums. Thanks for sharing...Voted Up and Awesome!


stessily 4 years ago

Steph, I have yet to come across an aquarium that didn't completely mesmerize me. There are many aquaria on my To-Visit list; the Oregon Coast Aquarium has been on my To-Visit list for quite a while. Perhaps this year. . .!

Wonderfully presented tour with interesting information and nice photos/videos.

Well done.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working