Fall and winter are great times to visit the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

With most of the summer crowds gone for the season, guests can often enjoy one-on-one experiences with the aquarium’s wildlife.

Engaging programs for kids and adults — including Breakfast with the Rays ($19 plus regular admission) and Shark Tank tours ($8 plus regular admission) — continue throughout the year, so there is no shortage of ways to explore the NC Aquarium.

The little ones can enjoy the Aqua Tots program ($5 per child, plus regular admission) and learn about animals, while taking part in stories, crafts and games.

Kids a little older can see what it’s like to work behind the scenes as an Aquarist for a Day ($52 plus regular admission).

In honor of Veterans Day, the aquarium is offering free admission all day on Saturday, Nov. 11, which also kicks off a food drive benefiting the Roanoke Island Food Pantry at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church in Manteo.

Guests are invited to bring donations of non-perishable food to the aquarium through Thursday, Nov. 30. Last year, donations on Veterans Day alone totaled 1,458 pounds!

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the aquarium will host a special edition of its “Seafood Series,” which showcases a local chef and recipes using lionfish, an invasive — but delicious! — species. Aquarium divers have been busy removing lionfish from local shipwreck sites as part of a research project exploring how to manage the invasive species and conserve native ecosystems.

The Seafood Series event is a special opportunity to try this tasty fish. There are only 24 seats, so get them while they are available ($25).

Saturday, Dec. 9, marks the return of our popular Great White Fishmas celebration. From 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., children and adults can enjoy festive reindeer games, seasonal crafts, lively music and a visit with Santa. The holiday celebration is included with regular admission.

Speaking of crafts, throughout November and December, the aquarium will offer classes on how to make nautical wreaths using shells, moss. ribbon, dried flowers and other materials ($21 plus regular admission). Guests can also try their hand at the art of gyotaku, or fish printing, and go home with a fun fish print T-shirt ($19 plus regular admission).

As we get closer to Christmas, take advantage of day camps for ages 6 to 12. Four camps — Monday, Dec. 18; Tuesday, Dec. 19; Wednesday, Dec. 20; and Thursday, Dec. 28 — will spotlight turtles, reptiles, fun fish and behind-the-scenes experiences. Registration is $45 per camper.

The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island offers all kinds of year-round adventures. For more information, call (252) 475-2300 or visit ncaquariums.com/roanoke-island.

Brian Postelle is public relations coordinator for the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island and can be reached at brian.postelle@ncaquariums.com.

Brian Postelle is public relations coordinator for the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island and can be reached at brian.postelle@ncaquariums.com.

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