Colorado is very much a land-locked state, but luckily you don’t have to go too far to experience sea turtles thanks to the Downtown Aquarium in Denver.
Waving to Grandma!
I grew up in Chicago and experienced several field trips and other outings at the famous Shedd Aquarium, so my expectations of an aquarium are pretty high. I think I postponed going to the Downtown Aquarium in Denver for several years until I had kids because I knew it wasn’t going to have the same look or feel as Shedd (on a side note and has nothing to do with Colorado, we were able to take the 2 older boys to the Shedd in June 2014, which was great on so many reminiscing levels. I highly recommend Shedd if you’re in Chicago).
Anyway, so back to Colorado. We have been to the aquarium twice. The first time was in March 2014- our roof was getting replaced so we needed to be out of the house for the whole day. Our original plan was to go to the Denver Zoo, but it ended up being in the 30s this day so it seemed like the perfect time to take them to the Downtown Aquarium. The second time was May 2015 for my mother’s 60th birthday. She celebrated by swimming in the tank (which is apparently is something that anyone can do if they sign up!).
The Aquarium is laid out in a giant walk-thru circle. Each exhibit represents a different ecosystem (In the Desert, Under the Sea, North America, At the Wharf, Coral Lagoon, etc). There are also real live mermaids that perform at certain times at the Under the Sea exhibit. These showings are very crowded and very entertaining. Great for your Little Mermaid fan.
The exhibits are stroller friendly (and very little kid friendly!) with lots of ‘rocks’ to climb on. Actually, I think the rocks were their favorite part.
My favorite part was the giant floor to ceiling wall looking into the shark tank. It almost felt like we were in the Caribbean.
The boys waving to Grandma who is swimming in the tank
The very last exhibit contains a shallow pool in which you can feed and pet the sting rays. My kids love this part, and as a parent I am a huge fan of any exhibit in any zoo/aquarium that lets kids interact with the animals.
There is an adjacent restaurant with really good food and fantastic views of the fish (not the ones you eat) (I think it’s the other side of the Under the Sea tank). Honestly, my favorite part was sitting in the Dive Lounge bar with my 2 boys who ate their lunches quietly. They had spent the past several hours running around and I was exhausted from keeping up with them, so this little lounge area was a welcome rest area for all of us (and completely dead at 12:30 pm so no one seemed to mind us sitting in the lounge).
While it’s no Shedd Aquarium, the Downtown Aquarium in Denver is a great aquarium to get up close to aquatic life.
PS- there’s also a tiger there which I always thought was a little random. Anyone know why there’s a tiger at the aquarium?
Location: 700 Water Street Denver, CO 80211
Price: Aquarium Visit Only: Adults (12-64) $18.99 Seniors (65+) $17.99 Children (3-11) $12.99 Children (2 and under) FREE.
Website: Downtown Denver Aquarium