Passages of the Deep at Oregon Coast Aquarium — Photo courtesy of Oregon Attractions
Located in the coastal fishing town of Newport, The Oregon Coast Aquarium is about 135 miles south, or a three hour's drive from Portland. A bit too far for a day-trip, but Newport makes for a great weekend getaway from from any of Oregon's major cities. Though not huge, The Aquarium has plenty enough to see to fill a good part of a day. The nearby beaches and downtown Newport have lots to offer in their own right.
One of the Aquarium’s biggest draws is the Passages of the Deep exhibit. Walking through a curved, plexiglass tunnel, visitors are able to walk along the floor of three different large tanks where they can be completely surrounded by the ocean fauna. Each tank represents a different aquatic ecosystem. Looking straight up in the “Open Sea”part of the exhibit, one can see sharks and rays swimming peacefully overhead.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is not only an indoor experience. Many of the exhibits are accessed by following garden trails that wind through well-maintained indigenous flora. An aviary of sea birds allows visitors to observe puffins and oystercatchers up-close, but living as they do in nature. The sea otter pool offers a chance to see how these creatures live, both above and below water. Of course the giant octopus (which is viewed from inside an artificial cave) is a very popular attraction.
Inside are many examples of aquatic life from around the world. Many tanks, large and small, house exotic fish and invertebrates. The touch-pool, a tide-pool exhibit where guests are permitted to gently feel the sea life is a favorite among children and adults alike. A new interactive exhibit for youngsters called “The Sea and Me” is scheduled to open Memorial Day Weekend 2012.
Tiny tot with sea otter at Oregon Coast Aquarium — Photo courtesy of _Shward_
Covering 40 acres, the Oregon Coast Aquarium has something for anyone who is interested in underwater life. Combined with the other attractions of Newport and the surrounding Oregon Coast, a visit to the Aquarium makes for a great excuse to get out of the city.