The NC Aquarium Pine Knoll Shores is one of the great things to do on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Pine Knoll Shores is one of the areas on the Bogue Banks between Atlantic Beach and Salter Path, below Cape Lookout.
Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, and Beaufort are three lovely towns on the beautiful Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Beaufort, founded in 1709, is a sailing harbor town with a great view of the Rachel Carson Coastal Reserve. Morehead City, founded in 1860, is home to a large ship port and a fun fishing waterfront. Atlantic Beach, founded in the 1880s, is on the Bogue Banks between Fort Macon and Pine Knoll Shores.
The aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is one of 4 North Carolina aquariums. The facility includes a modern building with a massive deck and a nature trail through the marshes on the sound side. The aquarium is open 9 to 5 just about every day of the year. Admission is $10.95 for adults and $8.95 for children. The parking lot is spacious. The facility is wheelchair accessible and some wheelchairs and strollers are available for check out.
I enjoy spending some time at the entrance. They have some excellent native plant gardens and sculptures. Sand art is another fun thing to see and study.
Inside exhibits begin with the Mountain Gallery which highlights trout and fresh waters of North Carolina. The Piedmont Gallery has river otters! The Coastal Plain has details of swamps and lowlands with alligators and snakes. As you travel through you can touch manta rays and other tidal creatures, learn more about loggerhead turtles, and the famous pirate ship Queen Anne’s Revenge. The Ocean Gallery has a giant tank showing how fish and other plants and animals live around a shipwreck. The Little Minnows play area is wonderful for toddlers and preschoolers to play and dress up in ocean creature costumes.
Outside a boardwalk nature trail takes you into the marsh to see plants and birds. For big kids, the Tree-mendous Nature Play is a playground built all around a huge tree. (I wouldn’t take little kids there, it could be hard to follow them around on the swinging bridge, climbing net, etc.)
The NC Aquarium Pine Knoll Shores is a great place to spend a couple hours learning more about the abundant wildlife of North Carolina.
Map of Crystal Coast
Resource links for NC Aquarium Pine Knoll Shores
- North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
- North Carolina Aquariums – 4 locations around the coast
- Pine Knoll Shores from The Crystal Coast
- Crystal Coast from Visit NC
- History of the Bogue Banks from Carteret County
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