Here are our answers to some of your most frequently asked questions.
Ticketing and Visit Planning Questions
Are reservations required? Can I buy tickets on-site?
Advanced reservations are strongly recommended if you are purchasing general admission tickets, which can be done online or by phone at 617-973-5200. The Box Office is open for a limited number of walk-up visitors who can’t order online, need assistance, or want to use cash. Certain ticket types can also only be accommodated at the Box Office, and we are committed to making the Aquarium accessible to all.
PLEASE NOTE: Availability for walk-up purchases is not guaranteed. If you arrive without pre-booking and your desired time or full day is sold out, we will offer you the opportunity to purchase a ticket for another available time or day.
How far in advance can you purchase/reserve your timed ticket?
You can purchase tickets for up to 180 days in advance of your visit.
When is the last entry time of the day?
The last entry time is one hour and twenty minutes before closing.
Do you accept cash?
We strongly encourage you to pay in advance online or over the phone. However, cash transactions can be made at the Box Office.
Do you accept Aquarium gift cards?
Yes, however Aquarium gift cards cannot be redeemed online, so they must be used over the phone by calling Reservations or presented at the Box Office.
However, gift cards are available to purchase online.
What if I am late for my assigned time slot?
The building capacity for each time slot is limited. We ask that all guests make every effort to arrive on time. We cannot guarantee immediate entry to guests who are late for their time slot. We strongly encourage you to arrive up to 10 minutes prior to your assigned time slot.
Please note: Due to current capacity limits, Aquarium tickets are non-refundable.
Will members of a group who arrive later than others be allowed immediate entry upon arrival?
For the time being, capacity within time slots is limited. We ask that all guests make every effort to arrive on time. We cannot guarantee immediate entry, even if other members of your party are inside the Aquarium. We strongly encourage you to arrive 5 minutes prior to your assigned time slot.
Please note: Due to current capacity limits, Aquarium tickets are non-refundable.
Once I enter, is my time limited or restricted?
Your time in the Aquarium is not limited or restricted, and you are allowed to take as long you would like to enjoy the Aquarium.
Can I leave and come back in?
Yes, you may leave the Aquarium and come back in.
Will I have to wait in line?
We are doing everything we can to streamline entry. There will be a brief waiting period outside ahead of your timeslot while an Aquarium representative assesses lobby capacity and goes over safety measures. Please dress accordingly for weather conditions.
Will sensory bags continue to be available upon request? How are you cleaning these bags?
Sensory bags and all items in the bag will be cleaned with antibacterial wipes between every use. You will also be offered disinfecting wipes, so you can choose to re-sanitize the bag before using it.
Will parking validation be available? What if I forget to validate my parking before exiting?
Yes, parking validation is available for a number of local garages. Please note: parking validation for the Harbor Garage is available for members only.
To obtain validation for garages with which we have parking validation programs (see: https://www.neaq.org/visit/parking for more information), please visit the Information Desk. If you forget to validate your parking, you may re-enter the Aquarium.
If I only want to visit the gift shop, do I need a timed-entry ticket?
No, you do not need a ticket to enter the Gift Shop.
If my phone’s battery dies, where can I go to “get” my reserved ticket?
If you are unable to access the tickets on your phone for any reason, you can go to a ticket booth window for a printed ticket. You can also call Reservations at 617-973-5206, and they can to re-send the email with the ticket to someone else in your party who has a functioning phone/email. Both cashiers and reservationists can re-send barcoded tickets to a new email, so that everything remains contactless.
If I am a library coupon holder, do I need to purchase my ticket in advance?
Advance reservations are not required for library patrons with coupons. Library patrons should present their coupons on-site at the Aquarium ticket booth. Once tickets are issued, library patrons will be admitted to the Aquarium. Please note: Coupons to the Aquarium will be valid only on the date printed on the coupon.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Questions
Am I required to wear a face mask?
Per the latest City of Boston guidelines, face coverings are no longer required at the New England Aquarium. However, the City does still recommend masking to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and for those with heightened risk factors. We therefore encourage guests to wear them.
Is vaccination required to enter the Aquarium?
The City of Boston’s vaccination mandate has been lifted, so proof of vaccination is no longer required for entry to the Aquarium and Simons Theatre.
Will hand sanitizer be provided?
There is hand sanitizer available at an abundance of locations throughout your visit.
If I forget or lose my face covering, can I buy one at NEAq?
While face coverings are not required at the Aquarium, fabric face coverings will be available for purchase in the gift shop.
What type of air filtration system do you use?
Our air conditioning system blends fresh, outside air with recirculated air that is then heated (or cooled) and passed through pleated filters. We dilute the recirculated air with as much outside air as possible while maintaining the comfort of the people and animals. The filters capture the particles that might contain a virus but do not kill airborne viruses. The fresh outside air dilutes any indoor pollutants.
Will the bathrooms be open?
Yes, the bathrooms are open. The hand dryers have temporarily been replaced with paper towels. Changing tables are available in both bathrooms.
Is food be available at the Aquarium?
Yes, there are a number of dining options available at the Aquarium. The Harbor View Café is located on the second floor of the Aquarium, while Central Snack Bar and The Reef are open on Central Wharf Plaza, outside the Aquarium.
For hours and sample menu items, visit neaq.org/dining.
Can we bring our own food?
You can bring your own food and eat at the blue picnic tables outside. For the safety of our animals, you cannot eat in the Aquarium exhibit areas.
May I drink out of the water fountains or use the bottle refill stations?
Yes, water fountains and bottle refill stations are available. Canned water is also available for purchase at Harbor View Café and at vending machines located on the plaza, in Simons Theatre, and in the gift shop. You may drink water while in the Aquarium’s exhibit areas, but no other food or beverages are allowed.
Will there be an area for me to nurse my baby?
Nursing is allowed wherever you feel comfortable. The First Aid/Lactation Room is also available for visitors who would like privacy. Please see the Information Desk to access this area.
Do you have wheelchairs available?
We have a limited number of wheelchairs available to borrow. Wheelchairs are thoroughly cleaned before and after each use.
Do you have strollers available to borrow or rent?
We do not have strollers available to borrow or rent. While strollers are welcome in the Aquarium, we strongly recommend that you leave your stroller at home or in your car. To access the top of the Giant Ocean Tank, any person with a stroller will need to use the elevator. Elevator access is being prioritized for individuals in wheelchairs or with other medical needs that make stairs difficult. Visitor Experience staff members are located in this area to assist you.
Will I be able to check my stroller?
Unfortunately, no, there is no area available to check a stroller.
Will the lockers be available?
Yes, lockers are available for use. Small lockers are $5 and large ones are $7. There is a kiosk for locker rental, but each locker also has QR code so they can reserved on your phone or device as well.
Are all of your exhibits open?
While the Edge of the Sea touch tank is closed to visitors right now, all the other exhibits are open. There are no scheduled presentations at this time, but visitors will still be able to ask questions of our knowledgeable educators and watch Animal Care staff care for our animals in the exhibits throughout the day.
Is the Simons Theatre open?
Yes, the Simons Theatre is open.
Will you be having presentations?
In order to prevent crowding, we will not be offering a regular schedule of talks and presentations. You will be able to converse with our knowledgeable educators during your visit and see Animal Care staff caring for our animals on-exhibit. If you are interested in a more in-depth virtual experience, please visit At Home Events and Activities, Virtual Encounters, or contact Reservations at 617-973-5206.
In light of the switch to a number of single-use items (e.g. paper towels vs. hand dryers), how is the Aquarium upholding live blue values?
As a global conservation organization, the protection of human lives is at the core of our values. While we are doing everything we can to eliminate single-use items and to minimize waste, during the pandemic we prioritized the safety of our staff and visitors.
Simons Theatre FAQs
Are reservations required for the Simons Theatre? Can I buy tickets on-site?
You are strongly encouraged to make advanced reservations via our website. The Box Office on the plaza is also open for walk-up visitors who need assistance or want to use cash.
What movies are currently showing?
Incredible Predators deconstructs the world of major predators as never before, taking an intimate look at the remarkable strategies they use to succeed. Advanced filming techniques expose the planet’s top predators in extraordinary footage, putting the audience right beside them as they hunt—on land, under the sea or in the air. Far from a film about the kill, instead learn how these supreme species must be at the very peak of performance to have any chance of success, for example, to understand a cheetah’s dilemma you must meet her hungry cubs. Incredible Predators reveals the unique relationship between predators and prey as a fundamental building block of ecology.
Wings Over Water
Discover the largely unknown water highways of the Great Plains. As the glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age, they left an astounding gift of connected rivers, lakes, and wetlands across the heartland of North America. Today, these remain an oasis for wildlife, from herds of bison and vital honeybees to the millions of magnificent birds that migrate along these “flyways.” Michael Keaton narrates as the story of three amazing bird species—the Sandhill Crane, the Yellow Warbler and the Mallard Duck—come to life. Wings Over Water celebrates the triumphs and challenges of these remarkable birds that defy all odds as they head home to the prairies to raise their young.
Experience the life-saving superpowers and extraordinary bravery of some of the world’s most amazing dogs. In this inspiring true story, our best friends are also real-life superheroes. Journey around the globe to meet remarkable dogs and their human partners who fight crime, protect endangered species and save lives in avalanches, earthquakes and in the sea. Narrated by Chris Evans, discover the extraordinary abilities of dogs and the remarkable science behind their superpowers, we’ll never look at our four-legged friends the same way again.
Cephalopods: Alien of the Deep
Shot over three years across the globe through stunning underwater cinematography, this film presents an intimate portrait through macrophotography of the Cephalopods (Greek meaning – head foot). Learn more about octopus, squid, and cuttlefish. Journey through the magical world of these fascinating aquatic species, discover their unique physiology, and what makes them survive against all odds.
How long are the movies?
Each movie is between 22 to 49 minutes long.
Will I be able to visit the Aquarium, leave to see a movie, and then go back into the Aquarium?
Yes, you may. Please keep your tickets accessible (hard copy or electronic) so you may show them upon reentry.
Will concessions be available?
Vending machines are located in the Simons Theatre lobby. No outside food or drinks are allowed in the theater.