For most, an opportunity to swim with dolphins is the dream of a lifetime. It also usually accompanies a trip of a lifetime, to say, Costa Rica, Bermuda, Mexico or Fuji… with hefty price tag to boot.
For the frugal American…believe me , I’m there… domestic opportunities for such an experience have, in the past, been limited to jaunts to Hawaii and the U.S. Caribbean Islands.
Frugalistas and stay-cationers can rejoice, because it’s now possible to have your once in a lifetime swimming with the fishes moment in your own backyard.
For between $50-$300 you can experience the thrill of wading waist-deep in water while petting dolphins and feeding whales at aquariums in many major US cities.
Shedd Aquarium’s Beluga Experience runs Friday through Sunday in the months of March through May.
The hour-long interaction includes your wetsuit rental and a half hour instruction period. The cost is $250 plus the cost of admission (be on the look out for free admission days).
You should RSVP at least 48 hours in advance at the Shedd Online.
The cost of park admission is not included, however and will run you $69.99 for adults and $61.99 for kids under 10.
If you’re a local, you may want to consider the Fun Pass which gives you park admission thru December for the same price as the one day ticket. Also available is an annual pass for just 40 bucks more than the day pass. seaworld.com
The Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT is much more than an aquarium. It’s a conservation and research facility dedicated to education and the preservation of aquatic life.
Mystic also happens to be the greatest bargain of them all.
Starting at a meager $50, you can pet and feed a Beluga (no water works required).
You can also work side by side with a trainer and experience leading the whale in exercise, playtime and learning activities for $100.
Or you can don a wetsuit to experience the full on, 90 minute Beluga Encounter for only $130. Aquarium admission is an additional $26.
Sorry, there are no free days, but parking is always free AND if you have your ticket validated, you can return the next day free of charge. $13.00 a day is not a bad deal in my book. mysticaquarium.org