Tropical Storm Elsa turns fun in the sun to fun indoors

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — With so many outdoor activities across the Cape Fear, tourists took museums and the aquarium by storm.

“We can’t go in the pool, can’t go in the ocean. We’ve got to find something,” said one mom. “It’s way better than watching cartoons at the hotel.”

Cape Fear Museum’s Amy Thornton said it was no surprise Tropical Storm Elsa drove families indoors.

“Rainy days are great days to come to museums,” Thornton said. “With the big storms, we have a lot of visitors here. A lot of tourists. A lot of locals who are looking for something to do. We even had a summer camp drop in who was expecting to be at the beach.”

Families like the Whitlocks are not letting Elsa put a damper on their vacations. They drove all the way from Kentucky to spend the week at the beach. Thursday, they visited places they may not have otherwise enjoyed.

“We wanted something fun and educational for the kids,” Sarah Whitlock explained. “Also somewhere they could run around, look at pictures, read, and get away from the rain.”

Families like the Pelletiers headed to the Fort Fisher Aquarium, learning about our environment, and the creatures who live in it.

“Yeah, the sea otters were pretty cute,” said middle schooler, Andrew Pelletier. “There was also a baby hammerhead there as well. And I also enjoyed the newts.”

Fort Fisher Aquarium was such a popular destination, those who didn’t plan ahead had to make other plans. The aquarium recently moved to a new reservation system, and onsite tickets are not available.

“On a rainy day, it’s really important for them to get their reservations early so that they don’t run into a problem today,” said spokesperson, Robin Nalepa. “We’re completely sold out.”

Though the rain might have driven tourists off our beaches, it could have provided some relief toward ending a drought for businesses still recovering from the pandemic.

According to Thornton, “This is a great way to be able to run around, have fun, be active, but also learn a little bit while school is out, and enjoy yourself as a family.”

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