When Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with plans for outdoor adventures, days of fun and educational activity indoors is just the ticket. Try the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead.
“Some of the most recent additions to the aquarium are the butterflies and birds, which were introduced in 2011,” says Alyssa Paige, an employee of the aquarium. “We also have a new Insect Preservatory and Turtle Bay, which includes turtle feeding. Some things that will be coming in the future are Gators, Archer Fish, Gator Talk and Hold, and we have just recently kicked off our Shark Week at the aquarium.”
Summer is a busy time at the aquarium, but the opportunities for fun and education continue in the off-season, and it is a lot less crowded. “We are open daily year-round (closed Christmas and Thanksgiving), so most of our programs are available year-round as well.”
The Shark Dive allows brave souls to plunge into the 120,000-gallon Lost City of Atlantis Shark Exhibit. A diving certification is not required and a trained Shark Dive instructor joins guests in the water. Sessions start at 11 a.m. and each allows a total of eight participants. Divers are given everything needed for the experience: wetsuit, scuba gear and mask. Visit the Long Island Aquarium website for tickets and reservations. After the swimming with the shark’s, all participants can impress their friends with a complementary souvenir beach towel, a shark tooth from the Lost City of Atlantis Shark Exhibit and a photograph of the dive.
At the Penguin Encounter, aquarium visitors interact with African penguins for 45 minutes and learn how the experts take care of them. Afterward, guests can take keepsake photographs of their new flightless friends. The times are 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily in the summer, and 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays in the winter. With each encounter you receive a free beach ball.
Long Island Aquarium also hosts events, including weddings, social gatherings, corporate meetings and team-building retreats. Visit the aquarium online to choose specific event location, budget, and menu. Another nice addition is the waterfront suites (Hyatt Place East End), available right next door to the aquarium, for a mini getaway for a newly married couple without having to break the bank.
There’s something for everyone, and all ages, at Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, whether one is just getting hitched or taking the kids out for a weekend adventure. It’s a good time and a fantastic learning experience right here in Riverhead.
Long Island Aquarium is located at 431 East Main Street in Riverhead. For more information, visit longislandaquarium.com or call 631-208-9200, ext. H2O (426).