Back-to-School signs, sales and commercials remind us that the summer is coming to a close. And while it might be fun to pick out new clothes, get together with school friends and get back into sports and activities – kids don’t want to summer to end so quickly.

As parents we’re torn between taking advantage of every drop of the summer sunshine and ramping up the education and routines. Are the summer reading lists complete? Are the back to school supplies neatly packed into new backpacks? Did you pull out the flashcards to keep multiplication facts fresh? And on the other hand – did you get to the beach as often as you promised? Take that family bike ride? How about the day trips you planned out at the beginning of summer? With only a few weeks of summer left, how will we manage to make the most of it from an educational standpoint and family summer fun?

Learning Fun for Dads and Daughters

There are many options to family learning fun but one of our summer favorites is the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. August is perfect with coming off of Shark Week. We love that it is local and easy to get to. It is located on the Delaware River with fantastic views of Philadelphia and water traffic. Next door is the Camden Children’s Garden – another “must see” and don’t forget Battleship NJ is open for tours.

The aquarium is awesome and here’s why. Inside, the Adventure Aquarium has many animal attractions to include an amazing hippo exhibit, touchable sharks and sting rays, and beautiful displays of tropical fish, coral and more. Don’t miss the jellyfish and shark tank with sea turtles, both mesmerizing.  We especially loved the octopus and dart frog displays.

Hippo Greetings

The outdoor Penguin Island exhibit is so playful. Congrats to the penguin family on their newest addition: Casanova. Here you’ll find the penguins diving in and out of the water exhibit, chasing and playing with the audience and each other. For a break, grab a snack or catch a show on the big screen. Check out the Kid’s Zone for active learning fun and a few more hands-on experiences.

The BIG attraction for this summer – ending Labor Day – is Mighty Mike. He’s massive and amazing. Get your picture taken with this 14 foot-long, 800 lb American Alligator. While we were there he actively backed his way out of our photo shot – not so polite but very cool to see him in motion. Who knew an alligator would be camera shy? Parents – you’ve got to check out this whole resource pack online for Mighty Mike’s exhibit. It includes kid’s Q&A, puzzles and some truly interesting facts about Mighty Mike and it explains the difference between alligators and crocodiles. Expand your family experience and learning opportunity with this packet as well as other educational tools on Adventure Aquarium’s website. Grab a toy set, puzzle or a book from the gift shop to even further extend your experience.

Many area schools plan the Adventure Aquarium as a class trip. Don’t let this discourage you from taking your family. If in fact your son or daughter had visited without you – allow them the opportunity to guide your family experience. Watch for the exhibits that most fascinate your family and spend a little extra time at each of those. Observe long enough to see their patterns of behavior or ask the Guest Services staff for feeding schedules of your favorite exhibit. Consider additional adventures like swimming with sharks or petting penguins (click here to see the adventure options).

Adventure Aquarium is a wonderful way to ease out of summer and back into their learning worlds. Comment below with your favorite exhibit and be sure to check out Might Mike before he leaves Labor Day.

Disclose:  A special thanks to my friend Sherri who allowed me to borrow her son for an amazing adventure day with us.  This post, the pictures and opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I did have the pleasure of attending a media day at the aquarium, whereas admission was complimentary.  We were not compensated for this article.