Frequently Asked Questions
From time to time, select exhibits will close for renovation to reinvigorate the guest experience, provide routine maintenance, and ensure a safe space for our animals to inhabit. We cannot wait to welcome guests back to these areas soon, but in the meantime, follow along and learn about the progress on our Renovations page!
Online tickets are strongly recommended prior to arrival. Walk-ins will be accommodated as capacity allows. Visit our Admission Information page to learn more. We offer a predetermined number of tickets for purchase per entry time slot. Guests must arrive within their reserved time slot to enter, but there is no time limit for a visit once they have entered the exhibits.
The Aquarium will be open every day from 9:00am-5:00pm. Online reservations are strongly recommended, as walk-ins will be accommodated as capacity allows.
Please bring your ticket, either on your phone or printed, and your Membership card/ID, if applicable. Tickets will be scanned in the lobby for entry.
Early arrivals will be accommodated as capacity allows. To help ensure a quality Aquarium experience, we have established a set capacity and this is reflected in our ticketing procedures. Guests will be admitted based on their designated time slot and can arrive any time during their reserved time. Late arrivals will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The last entry for general admission is at 3:30pm daily. Member admission is available until 4:00pm. The Aquarium closes at 5:00pm.
Re-entry throughout the day will not be permitted. Your timed ticket will be the only entry permitted per purchase.
From April 1 through October 31, parking at the Virginia Aquarium is $5 per car. From November 1 through March 31, parking is free. Members park for free year-round. See more about our parking rates and procedures here.
It was determined by the City of Virginia Beach that this modest fee, charged only during peak season between April 1 and October 31, could help offset the costs of maintaining our current parking lots and the lease payments to the State for the use of the property. Funds are collected by the City of Virginia Beach, which supports the Virginia Aquarium and City infrastructure.
Manual wheelchairs are available to borrow from Guest Services with a valid photo ID, which will be returned upon return of the wheelchair at the completion of your visit. Guests may also use their personal manual or motorized wheelchair in the buildings and on the Nature Trail. Please note that the boat dock and the Atlantic Explorer are only accessible to manual wheelchairs. The boat crew are happy to assist anyone needing to transfer from a motorized chair to a manual.
Food and beverages are available for purchase at our cafés, operated by our friends at Gourmet Gang.
The Aquarium only allows service animals, as defined in Title II of the ADA, trained to assist guests with disabilities and does not permit pets or companion/comfort animals. For more information, visit our Accessibility page here.
General information on these tours can be found on our Boat Tours page.
Traditional tours take place on the Atlantic Explorer, a spacious and stable catamaran that boasts one of the most comfortable rides in Virginia Beach, and has been outfitted especially for conducting dolphin watching, whale watching, and other educational boat tours. Experience spectacular views from outdoor covered decks, or from cushioned seats inside a climate-controlled cabin. Additional amenities to maximize your experience onboard include a snack bar, ship store, indoor educational activity space, flat-screen monitors, and modern restroom facilities.
The Atlantic Scout is a rigid inflatable boat and a low-lying vessel, providing guests with a closer look at the wildlife we see on our tours for a unique and unforgettable experience.
These vessels are operated by experienced captains and crew employed by Rover Cruises. As safety is a priority on each trip, our boats are equipped with state-of-the-art navigation and communications equipment and is licensed and inspected by the United States Coast Guard annually.
Your boat tour will be led by a knowledgeable educator who has been specially trained by Aquarium experts to conduct these programs. The educator will share up-to-date information about the marine mammals and other seasonal visitors seen in local waters, as well as elaborate on the most current findings and efforts of Aquarium researchers. Staff, along with Aquarium volunteers, will be available to answer your questions, as well as provide visual aids and opportunities to touch bottlenose dolphin teeth and other biofacts we are permitted to possess. Data related to whale and dolphin sightings is collected during each tour, which contributes to federal and regional management of marine mammal populations and environmental assessments. The licensed captain from Rover Cruises will ensure you have a safe and pleasant trip, while the crew is available to assist you with any customer service needs you may have during your time aboard.
The dock and the Atlantic Explorer are accessible for guests in manual wheelchairs. The captain and crew will assist anyone needing to transfer from a motorized to a manual wheelchair for the tour. For Atlantic Scout tours, guests must be able to navigate stairs.
Due to space considerations in the walkways and cabin, strollers may need to be stowed when on board. Atlantic Explorer tours are open to all ages, while Atlantic Scout guests must be ages 6 and older.
As the temperatures & weather conditions are often different on the water, we suggest wearing layers for comfort, outerwear such as hats/gloves, and shoes with non-slip soles that provide traction. Sunglasses & sunscreen are also recommended for bright days. On particularly cold days, some guests bring blankets to remain comfortable sitting on the outer deck for the duration of the tour. The Atlantic Explorer has seating on the outer deck and inside the cabin, while the Atlantic Scout's seats are beneath an awning.
You are encouraged to bring along your camera. You can get closer to the water from our sea-level viewing decks to experience the marine wildlife up close & personal, which offers some of the best photo and video opportunities! Just remember to keep a firm grip on your equipment.
Atlantic Explorer Dolphin Watching tours are approximately 1.5 hours long, while our Whale Watching tours are about 2.5 hours long. This allows time to venture up and down the coast in search of marine mammals and other wildlife. Atlantic Scout Dolphin Watching tours are approximately 70 minutes long.
Since the coastal population of bottlenose dolphins tends to stay closer to the beach, we generally cruise less than ½ mile offshore for dolphin watching. The tour course may vary with each trip depending upon the known location of the animals.
Our Whale Watching tours allow us time to travel up to 10 miles offshore, although we rarely go that far. We often tend to find animals much closer to shore.
Our extensive experience and knowledge of the area help us identify the most likely places to find our seasonal visitors. The captain also receives reports of sightings from other vessels in the area and will head toward the location where animals have most recently been spotted.
Since all marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Act and some by the Endangered Species Act in U.S. waters, we follow federal and regional viewing guidelines that help protect the animals in their natural habitat. The responsible viewing program specifies how close vessels may approach whales and other marine mammals in our area, which is from 100 feet to 500 yards depending on the species. Occasionally, animals will suddenly come up much closer to the boat, in which case we hold our position until we can safely move away.
In addition to following recommended responsible viewing guidelines, the Virginia Aquarium is also an active Whale SENSE participant. Whale SENSE is a voluntary education and recognition program for whale watching companies committed to responsible practices and whale conservation.
Our tours depart from the Virginia Aquarium Dock, located adjacent to the North Building parking lot, at 717 General Booth Boulevard. Parking is available in the Main Lot as well as in the East Lot across the street from the North Building. Please allow additional time for parking and check-in at the dock, 45 minutes before your departure time for Explorer tours and 30 minutes before departure for Scout tours.
To ensure that space is available on the day and time you'd like to go, your tickets must be reserved online in advance. Visit our Boat Tours page for schedule and ticket information.
Contact our Guest Services team at (757) 385-3474 to inquire about school trips.
Tours are canceled when rough seas from local winds or offshore storms prevent us from providing a comfortable and safe excursion. Based on the forecast and experience in local waters, the captain determines the status of a tour. Sea conditions can change quickly, and occasionally it is necessary to cancel at the last minute. Please note that precipitation alone does not keep us from conducting tours, so come prepared if rain, sleet, or snow is predicted. While we do our best to keep our Daily Calendar updated, you can also confirm tour status by calling Guest Services at (757) 385-3474.
Yes, all passengers on our tours need a ticket before boarding. Although children under age 3 may tour with us free of charge, they must be included in your reservation as they are counted as passengers under U.S. Coast Guard regulations.
Yes! Throughout the year, we offer a variety of specialty tours. Stay tuned to our Boat Tours page and calendar of events on our website for our latest offerings.
In addition, we offer private boat tours for a variety of excursions, including photography trips, birthday parties, celebrations of life/memorials, corporate events, and educational tours. Contact us at (757) 385-3474 if you are interested in a private boat tour.
General information on Membership can be found on our Membership page.
You will receive a digital membership card attached to the confirmation email. On request, we can also send over a digital membership card that can be saved in an app.
Your Membership begins the day you purchase a Membership. You do not have to wait for your Membership cards to take advantage of your Membership. Simply show your photo ID when you check in at the Admissions Desk.
Our ticketing system changed in September 2023. Emails were sent out to all current Members with their new Member ID to create a new account in our ticketing system. This ID number will start with a letter. If you need your new Member ID number, please call (757) 385-3474 or stop by the Admissions Desk the next time you visit. If your Membership expired prior to September 2023, please create a new account.
If you have your new ID, please make sure that your first and last name are entered as they appear on your Membership, and that it is the registered email address.
As we have examined our prices compared to the ever-increasing cost of doing business, we noted the need to adjust our admission and Membership prices, which were last changed in 2017.
We are happy to send over another copy of your digital Membership card. Please call (757) 395-3474 or stop by the admission desk next time you visit.
Only the listed cardholders can use your membership, and at least one must be present to use the membership. Membership cards may not be loaned, even to relatives, nannies, or other caregivers. At least one adult cardholder listed on the Membership must be present. We do not accept notes from cardholders giving permission for non-cardholders to use their Membership.
Member adults are ages 18 and over, and youth are ages 5-17. Any child 4 years of age and under is free but still requires a free ticket included in the visit reservation.
Nope! You do not have to list your children ages 17 and under by name for your Family Membership.
No, there is no longer a limit on the number of youth (17 and under) in a family who can be admitted under a Family Membership.
Yes, they can change more than once. Please call the Guest Services Office at (757) 385-FISH (3474), email Membership@VirginiaAquarium.com, or come into the Aquarium to make the change.
No. Children aged 17 and younger cannot be designated on Membership by name and must be accompanied by at least one cardholder to access Membership benefits, including admission. Children are considered guests of designated cardholders.
Yes. Children age 4 and younger are free and do not count toward Member admission numbers. However, once your child turns 5, he or she will be required to use one of your admissions.
This Membership package is being discontinued as we consolidate the Family and Family+ Membership levels into one mighty package option. If you are currently on a Family+1 package, you will have the option to renew under the new Family package once your current Membership expires.
Yes, Members can purchase additional tickets at $22 per adult and $15 per youth (ages 5-17).
Yes! We offer a 10% military discount on our membership levels. Memberships must be purchased in person. Purchaser must show valid United States Armed Forces identification card to receive discount.
There are no senior discounts on our Membership packages.
Yes. Allotted admissions include all members of the group. If you have more than the allotted number of admissible people, the extra people will be required to purchase admission tickets.
For Family Membership only: you may contact Guest Services and inform us in advance that a caregiver, rather than a primary parent or guardian, will be bringing your children (ages 17 or under) to the Aquarium. You or the caregiver will need to provide proof of Membership.
No. Membership starts from the date of purchase and is valid for 366 calendar days.
No. Membership admission privileges are not applicable to group tours or class visits.
Yes. Memberships may be upgraded to higher levels anytime during your Membership. The cost of upgrading a Membership is the difference in price between the two Membership levels. Your original expiration date stays the same. You may do so by visiting the Guest Services Office or calling (757) 385-FISH (3474).
No. Memberships are non-refundable and non-transferable. For questions, call (757) 385-3474.
No. Memberships are non-transferrable. You may, however, purchase a separate new Membership as a gift through our gift certificate options. For questions, call (757) 385-3474.
Contact information is associated with the primary cardholder and changes can be made by calling (757) 385-3474, emailing Membership@VirginiaAquarium.com, or in person at any ticketing desk.
Member events are listed on our website and are sent via email. If you are not already a Member, become one to receive these exclusive invitations. If you are already a Member, ensure that your contact information is correct and up to date in your account on our ticketing site. Contact information is associated with the primary cardholder. For questions or concerns about your contact information, call (757) 385-3474, email Membership@VirginiaAquarium.com, or speak to an admissions staff member at the Admissions Desk.
The Membership gift voucher is valid for up to 1 year after the date of purchase. We will honor the gift voucher for the original Membership purchased prior to expiration, without additional fees.
School Field Trips
General information on field trips can be found on our Field Trips page.
Allow at least 1-2 hours for a self-guided tour of the exhibits. Add an extra hour for an on-site program.
Classroom teachers attending the field trip are admitted at no charge and must show proof of school ID. In addition, your group will receive a ratio of chaperones at no charge based on your total number of students.
- Pre-K and K: 1 adult for every 5 students recommended and admitted at no charge.
- 1st-12th: 1 adult for every 10 students recommended and admitted at no charge.
Any additional adults must pay for admission.
When visiting the Aquarium, payment is due upon arrival. To receive the group rate, we ask that you pay for the entire group, including additional adults, in one transaction – check, credit card, or cash.
We offer field trip lunch options through our catering partners at Gourmet Gang. Please contact Guest Services to discuss alternative accommodations.
We have an Aquarium store with a variety of souvenirs available for purchase!