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Go Natural in Newport... or Not
Published: 02/19/2011
Mojo, a rescued sea otter pup now lives at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
Mojo, a rescued sea otter pup now lives at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
Courtesy Alaska Sea Life Center

Newport offers attractions that range from the natural to the bizarre. Go natural with a visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium or observe marine life on a boat tour. Or, go un-natural and enter the wacky world of Ripley's Believe It or Not! and Wax Works wax museum on the famous bayfront.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium lets you get up close and personal with hundreds of animal species in its many marine exhibits. Visit the largest seabird aviary in North America. Visitors can walk the Passages of the Deep, a transparent tunnel winding through three ecosystems with different animals along the way. Walk with sharks, rays, skates and schools of fish as they swim above, beside and beneath you. Check out Mojo, a sea otter pup rescued from Alaska, the newest little creature to call the aquarium home. Schedule an encounter to shake "hands" with an octopus or get a smooch from a sea lion.

Marine Discovery Tours offers an opportunity to see some of these creatures in their natural environments with a two-hour narrated cruise aboard the 65-foot boat Discovery. Experienced captains cruise the bay and ocean looking for Gray Whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions, pelicans, eagles and marine birds.

One of Robert Ripley's Believe It or Not! "Odditoriums" is located on the bayfront at Mariner Square, housing some of the exotic and bizarre items Ripley collected from around the world. Among the exhibits, you can see an authentic shrunken head or pluck the invisible strings of the Magic Harp to produce music. Also at the Mariner Square location you'll find Wax Works with its displays featuring lifelike sculpted famous figures from the past. Take your picture with Frankenstein or see Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson along with other notables. If the natural world is more to your liking, consider a visit to the Oregon Undersea Gardens at Mariner Square where sea creatures participate in a live dive show. Divers with underwater communications gear work with many marine animals. Watch out for the Wolf Eel lurking among the anemones.

Whether you're in the mood for natural or un-natural wonders, you'll certainly find it in Newport. - By Stella Bennett

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