Get Away: Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
The aquarium's newly renovated South Building reopens this month in Virginia Beach with a moon jelly touch pool and other interactive exhibits.
Opening in Virginia Beach this June after a nearly $29 million renovation, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s South Building will feature new animals, including a giant Pacific octopus, chocolate chip sea stars, and an array of jellyfish, plus a moon jelly touch pool. Interactive exhibits highlight why cuttlefish are the magicians of the sea, how disco clams produce light, and more.
Watch veterinarians at work in the new animal care center (push a button to ask questions). Outdoors, an enormous science play area gives kids (and adults) an opportunity to learn about rivers, bays and oceans in creative ways, including water experiments to see how rivers shape the land and pretend play as marine scientists. Visitors can have fun alongside North American river otters on a cleverly designed slide adjacent to a viewing window. Admission is $24.95; $22.95 for ages 62 and older; $19.95 for ages 3-11; free for children younger than 3.
After all that play, spend the night at the 305-room Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Opened in 2020, the hotel is home to two highly regarded restaurants. Orion’s Roof serves Asian-fusion cuisine and has 360-degree views of Virginia Beach and the many ships in the ocean awaiting entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. Tulu Seaside Bar & Grill serves American fare with a healthy twist, including cold-pressed juices and power smoothies. Tulu’s indoor and outdoor bars also serve handcrafted cocktails.
Part of the Cavalier Resort, the hotel is across the street from the Historic Cavalier Hotel & Beach Club and its famed Tarnished Truth distillery and SeaHill Spa. The Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront towers over the Atlantic’s edge, giving guests in sea-facing rooms the feeling of being on a cruise ship.
The property has indoor and outdoor pools, lawns with games and relaxing seating areas, and a 24-hour fitness center. Rates begin at $269.
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, 717 General Booth Blvd., Virginia Beach, Virginia, 757-385-3474; Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 4201 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, Virginia, 757-937-4200