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“not fun for adults”
Review of Portland Aquarium - CLOSED

Portland Aquarium
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Portland Aquarium welcomes everyone to enjoy the unique interactive experiences found within, and is especially excited to introduce children and families to the world beneath the ocean's surface. Guests are encouraged to hand feed sharks, rays, birds, and fish, or to get up close and personal with many of the reptiles and other animals on exhibit. Above all, the Portland Aquarium promotes education through an interactive experience in a comfortable environment. Kids and adults alike are sure to be amazed at the soft skin of sharks and rays. The Portland Aquarium provides children and families access to the excitement and learning opportunities of the ocean without the long trip to the coast. Guests can watch jellyfish gently float and glow and admire the bright and colorful corals, all within easy reach of home. The Aquarium offers multiple educational programs and events for kids, as well as behind the scenes tours for those curious about just what it takes to keep an aquarium in good working order. Popular programs developed by the owners such as birthday parties and 'Marine Biologist for a Day' programs, are features here at the Portland Aquarium. "We hope to inspire a young generation of ocean explorers and conservationists through education and a shared experience with a live animal, to create an appreciation for the oceans," says owner Vince Covino. With over 3,000 living animals representing habitats from the Oregon shores to remote Indonesian Islands, the experience will instill respect and awe for our rich aquatic resources. The Covino family places a premium on the family experience, with a special interest in foster children. Having hosted 31 of their own, and adopting 3, they understand the struggles foster families face, and therefore offer free admission to foster children. Read our What You Can Expect Page provide further information about, well, What You Can Expect! Annual membership passes for families and individuals are on sale as well as day passes. Consider having your birthday party or private event at our facility as well. Follow Portland Aquarium on Facebook for updates and special offers and giveaways weekly.
Useful Information: Stroller parking, Activities for young children, Wheelchair access, Food available for purchase, Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children
Vancouver, Washington
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“not fun for adults”
Reviewed February 3, 2013

I love aquariums. In every city I visit that has an aquarium I go. I love to learn about sea life, see the beautiful creatures on exhibit and learn how to protect the animals in the oceans of our world. I usually love seeing kids at aquariums because I know they are learning about the wonderful creatures in our waters and will grow to respect and appreciate them. I have spent many hours in big aquariums like Monterrey Bay and the National Aquarium and smaller local places like in Seattle and Newport.

I knew this aquarium would be small, but the website seemed nice and I was looking forward to the visit.

However, I was very disappointed. First, its is tiny. It is so small that its nearly impossible on a busy day to get anywhere near the tanks and walk without treading on unattended small children. I was bashed in the shin by a stroller twice. I honestly though to myself "I hope there is not an emergency because half of us would get trampled." The areas cordoned off for parties would be better served to open up the walkways and offer some breathing room. I am sure the parties bring in revenue, but I would have gladly paid a few bucks more to be able to walk freely. Half the exhibits were not open yet, and the "coming in the spring" spaces seem tiny and inappropriate for penguins and otters.

Second, it seems like your aquarium is geared for kids. It felt more like a Chuck E. Cheese than an aquarium. Most of the tanks were at child height, which I get but when its very full its impossible to see what is in the tank when they are so small and so low. My 6' tall husband missed half the tanks because they were too low to see into.

I realize that the staff cannot parent children, but there were so many kids yelling, screaming, grabbing at the animals and running it was awful. I saw several kids peeling star fish off rocks, poking fingers into the openings of anemone type animals and screaming at the aquariums of lizards. The parents just stood by yapping at their friends and ignored how obnoxious the children were. There were not enough staff to protect the animals. I left after 45 minutes of trying to see the exhibits and was very sad.

The aquarium should be renamed Portland Children's Aquarium and that would keep adult visitors from having any expectations that it would be an enjoyable experience for adults.

Visited February 2013
5 Thank bethf287
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

91 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Portland, Oregon
Level 5 Contributor
49 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Small, Crowded and Underwhelming”
Reviewed January 27, 2013

This is a new (and the only) aquarium in the Portland area, with the exception of some aquatic exhibits at the Oregon Zoo. It's a small attraction located in a former restaurant in a suburban area about 20 minutes from downtown.

I've been astounded that Portland - a major coastal city - does not have a significant aquarium. So, I was quite excited when I heard that private investors were building one. I wasn't expecting that it would be this small and underwhelming.

Don't expect a major aquarium here like you'll fine in most mid-sized cities. It's small, and the displays are quite basic. It's a bit like a large saltwater fish store on steroids. Nothing fancy or particularly impressive, and it takes just about an hour to see the whole thing. It's also quite rustic and a bit amateurish. This is not a Seattle Aquarium or Oregon Coast Aquarium (about 3 hours from Portland), or even on par with inland aquariums you would find in Minneapolis or Cincinnati.

On the day we visited, it was incredibly crowded and loud - almost impossible to move about. The individual display galleries and displays were small, making it difficult to move around. It didn't help that a big chunk of the real estate was consumed by the gift shop, kids jungle gym and lorakete bird exhibit (a bit odd for an aquarium). It was hard to believe the fire marshal would allow them to operate at this capacity. I'm not sure if the kids felt the same, but adults were clearly frazzled. Restrooms were in only one location at the entrance, and hand washing facilities were non existent.

On the plus side, the exhibits are among the most interactive I have seen at any aquarium, with numerous touch pools that allow visitors to interact with more than your typical "touch pool" inhabitants. Children and adults have the chance to interact with and feed the usual sea stars, urchins, anemones, sea cucumbers, etc. and much more. They also have direct access to fish, shrimp, rays and small sharks. There are also several dozen traditional display tanks with a wide variety of fish, invertebrates and corals. Most were fancy home aquariums, but all were healthy and well maintained.

If you haven't had the opportunity to see a major aquarium, this is worth a visit to entertain the kids for an hour or two. If you have, it will be a big disappointment. Save your money and visit another Portland area attraction, or take the time to do a day trip to Newport on the coast to see the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Visited January 2013
4 Thank PJBilotta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Clackamas County, Oregon
Level 6 Contributor
264 reviews
53 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 116 helpful votes
“Worth another visit when complete!”
Reviewed January 27, 2013

We stopped in right after they opened. They were busy and from many of the conversations a large percentage were they because they had purchased some kind of family package. Wished we had because the "walk-in" price for a group of 8 is a little spendy! I'm sure it will be even better when all the exibits arrive. Bottom line is it is nice to have something like this here because we are a small town that gets overshadowed by Portland. A great place to take your grandkids/kids when you only have a couple hours. It kind of fits in between the Seaside Aquarium and the Newport Aquarium. I've found that my grandkids burn out long before we see even half of Newport so as long as you don't kid yourself and compare it to the Seattle Aquarium it will be great. Just remember who you are there for? For the kids, it will be great !

Visited December 2012
2 Thank MCPOUSNrtd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Fun great time loved the birds!!!”
Reviewed January 26, 2013 via mobile

Took granddaughter there and we had as much fun as she did. Feed the fish, the rays were very interactive. Could see, touch and feed them!! Birds were awesome too. Had birds loving my bling!!!

Can't wait to go again when they have the puffins and sea otters.

1 Thank Cabobling
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Florence, Oregon
Level 6 Contributor
142 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed January 6, 2013

When we first walked in we were dissapointed. The displays seemed very primitive. We were with our 9 year old grandson. The previous week we had taken him to the Seattle aquarium and he enjoyed it very much. When we asked him what he wanted to see in Portland he said the aquarium.

He loved the Portland Aquarium. The displays are hands on and he was fascinated. We had to drag him out.

Visited January 2013
3 Thank Gary H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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