The Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, formerly known as Atlantis Marine World, is a place we not only attend with frequency, it is a place that always offers a new discovery. Located on East Main Street in downtown Riverhead, on the picturesque Peconic River , the Long Island Aquarium is one of our favorite places to go on Long Island.
The aquarium offers something for everyone, with exhibits carefully placed throughout the large space. Each day there are opportunities to hold various animals, watch a feeding, or enjoy a show.
Welcoming you as you enter the aquarium are the playful seals, where you can see new baby girl, Calypso. Once inside, a large feeding pool greets you where you and your little ones can offer friendly sting rays a bite to eat. Crossing over a small bridge you can peek at flounder, fluke and other native Long Island fish as well as sit under the waterfall as you take in the intimidating Great White that hangs above. A touchable exhibit features various crustaceans. Our little ones love to hold the horseshoe crabs and watch them sway in the shallow water.
An indoor cave offers a up -close and personal look at Jaba the famous sea lion or if you are looking for a show, head outside to one of the many Sea Lion shows offered throughout the day.
Our favorite exhibit is the large, glass lined tunnel housing various sharks, other large fish as well as a giant sea turtle.
The children always watch in wonder, and place their hands on the glass as the graceful albeit intimidating animals swim by. There are many wall size tanks filled with tropcial fish, coral, sea anemone and many types of other sea plant life. Without being too stimulating, the LI Aquarium offers in every direction another wonder to behold.
Other outdoor exhibits include the otter exhibit, Koi Pond, African Penguins, snow monkeys, a small reptile hall as well as the much loved, excavation budding where budding paleontologists can uncover “fossils”, or those looking for a treasure can sift through flowing water to uncover bits of “gold”.The new alligator exhibit is definitely appealing but their snapping jaws make us glad we only get a bird’s eye view .
We have yet to try the interactive salt marsh exhibit (open to fully potty trained individuals only) but plan to do this on our next visit. Here we’ll get a chance to hold native LI creatures, learn a little about the salt marsh ecosystem and how we can work to preserve its delicate environment.
On a side note, strollers are welcome at the aquarium but if you have walkers, they may prefer to cruise around the “kid height” exhibits. We usually bring the stroller to carry our belongings. Since the aquarium has both in and outdoor exhibits, you may need a jacket as the weather changes. There is a cafe as well as a pavilion right on the Peconic River. We usually choose to pack a lunch and sit on the river and take in the beautiful and quiet surroundings. It breaks up the day and rejuvenates us to finish our trip around the aquarium. There are also plenty of snack stations, 2 sets of bathrooms, (only one with a changing facility) and 2 wonderful gift shops. We bring loose change with us to use at the various feed stations as well as to make coin donations down the spiral coin collectors. There is so much to see and do at LI Aquarium that we recommend a family pass as it pays for itself after 2 visits. Becoming a member has plenty of benefits and often snags you an invite to exclusive events.
431 East Main Street
Riverhead, NY 11901
Open year-round from 10am to 5pm. Closed December 25