What You Need To Know About Visiting Downtown Aquarium in Denver
One of Denver’s many awesome attractions, the Downtown Aquarium in captures the thrill of the natural world in an awe-inspiring way. Sustaining more than 500 animal species in over one million gallons of water, this local favorite enthralls people of all ages.
From the mystic mermaids who teach you the importance of conservation to the casual-upscale restaurant that hosts a 50,000-gallon aquarium in the center, chances are there’s something there that will be right up your alley.
The Downtown Aquarium in Denver is not limited to just aquatic life, either. Its desert and rainforest exhibits will astound you. Residents and visitors alike should definitely add it their bucket list. This guide will help you plan an affordable trip that will surely rank in your top ten memories. You’ll get tips on hot deals and discounts that will help your dollar go further, and you’ll learn how to purchase discount aquarium tickets.
What are you waiting for? Experience the Downtown Aquarium (Denver) at an affordable price with Denver CityPASS.
Downtown Aquarium & Restaurant Guide: Prices, Hours, and More
The Downtown Aquarium is located at 700 Water Street in downtown Denver. It is approximately 25 miles and about a 30-minute drive. The fastest way to get to the Downtown Aquarium from the airport is by car, but you can also take the A line rail service directly from the airport to Union Station downtown. From there it is about a mile walk or ride.
Due to its size, you should aim to allocate at least two to three hours to explore the entirety of the aquarium.
Downtown Aquarium Prices and Tickets Options
Discount Downtown Aquarium tickets can be purchased through Denver CityPASS (where you’ll also score great deals on other marvelous Denver hot spots) or you can buy them directly from the aquarium (either online or in person when you arrive at the ticket office).
Downtown Aquarium in Denver Park Hours
The Downtown Aquarium Park opens every day at 10am and closes at 9pm Sunday through Thursday, and at 9:30pm on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is open for business every day starting at 11am and closes at the same time as the rest of the aquarium. Check the website for special holiday hours.
Downtown Aquarium Parking Costs and Information
If you’re planning on driving to the Downtown Aquarium, there is a parking lot located across the street from the building. You can pay the $8 self-parking fee by cash or credit card, and if you dine in the restaurant after 6pm, you can get your parking validated there. Be sure to check the Downtown Aquarium website for up-to-date parking costs as they are subject to change.
Where Is the Downtown Aquarium?
The Downtown Aquarium is located in downtown Denver at 700 Water Street. It’s close to several notable attractions including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Elitch Gardens (a local amusement park), and the 16th Street Mall, a 16-block long stretch of shops and restaurants.
Downtown Aquarium Contact Information
You can reach the Downtown Aquarium by calling the main phone line at (303) 561-4450 or by messaging them through their Facebook page.
The Downtown Aquarium Restaurant
With its flagship 50,000-gallon aquarium parked in the center, the Downtown Aquarium Restaurant is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Over 100 species of bright tropical fish dart amongst their underwater dwelling and the aquarium is visible from every seat in the restaurant.
If this isn’t a big enough draw, the Downtown Aquarium Restaurant also boasts a Mystic Mermaid Dining Show up to four times a day. Watch as these enchanting creatures spin tales about conservation and taking care of the environment, all performed underwater. Their choreographed, family-friendly routines are set to music and the mermaids swim with such creatures as barracudas, nurse sharks, and eels.
Check the website for show times, but there are usually daily shows at 12:15 pm Monday through Thursday, 12pm, 5pm, and 7:30pm on Friday, 12pm, 2pm, 5pm, and 7:30pm on Saturday, and at 12pm and 2pm on Sunday. Shows may be without prior notice, so call ahead or inquire via Facebook to be sure the Mystic Mermaids are performing.
Downtown Aquarium Exhibits
All the exhibits at the Downtown Aquarium in Denver are fun and engaging, but a few consistently draw large crowds. Be sure to check out "At the Beach," where you’ll discover multitudes of sea life that reside in the shallow water next to the shore. Don’t forget to check out "Shipwreck," either with its elaborate representation of a ship run aground.
Learn all about diverse biomes like the rainforest, desert, a coral lagoon, and more. Here are the all the exhibits you’ll get to explore:
Discover Unique North American Creatures
North America is home to a wide variety of habitats and creatures great and small. This exhibit explores the majesty of Mother Nature throughout the many climates present in this continent. Visitors will need at least 20 minutes to see all the interesting animals including sunfish, river otters, rainbow trout, and even an alligator snapping turtle.
Adventure into Salt Water Habitats
The Coral Lagoon is your chance to see a barrier reef up close and personal. Look closely and you may catch a glimpse of an angelfish, damselfish, butterfly fish, or a sharp spiny lobster! This is a smaller exhibit, so allow around 10 minutes to mosey through.
Experience High Tides with Aquatic Creatures
The Wharf is home to hardy animals that have adapted to the constantly changing tides. You’ll see leopard sharks, sea anemones, lumpfish, surfperch, rockfish, and cabezon. The Wharf is also on the small side, so 10 minutes should be plenty.
Leave the World Ashore at the Shipwreck
A vivid shipwreck is painted on the walls of this charming exhibit. Peer into the replica of a coral reef where you’ll spot moon jellyfish, sea nettle, green sawfish, and brown and tiger sharks with stares that will make your blood run cold. This exhibit is a little more elaborate, so allow for up to 20 minutes to meander through.
Spend Time with Aquatic Friends in the Rainforest
The aquarium is not just for marine life. Inside The Rainforest, you’ll also get a chance to admire the endangered Sumatran tigers prowling around. If you can tear your eyes away from the tigers, you’ll also glimpse the sharp-toothed red belly piranha, freshwater stingrays, and arowana, a large species of fish that can reach up to three feet long. Allow for at least 15 minutes to fully appreciate this exhibit.
Wander the Desert with Marine Life
The aquarium isn’t just for aquatic sea life; there’s an exhibit on the desert that will knock your socks off. Learn all about how creatures survive and thrive this harsh landscape and admire the endangered desert pulpfish, creepy tarantulas, and a bearded dragon (though while the mermaids are real, this "dragon" bears scant resemblance to the fire-breathing mythical beast from which it takes its name.) Depending on your interest on desert denizens you may want to allow 10-15 minutes to explore.
Find Hidden Animals At the Beach
If you’ve ever wondered what a stingray feels like, now is your chance to find out. The Beach exhibit at the Downtown Aquarium boasts a tank where you can feed them (for an extra cost) and run your hand across their hide – what does it feel like to you? Don’t miss the Giant Pacific octopus undulating across the sandy sea floor and allow around 10 minutes to appreciate all the fantastic marine life here.
Experience Under Sea Caves
Seahorses, giant grouper, blue runners – oh my! This coral reef themed exhibit is bursting with fascinating sea life that calls these rapidly disappearing natural wonders home. Be sure to wave to the mermaids at this exhibit and plan for up to 20 minutes for exploring.
Explore Ancient Aquatic Temples
There’s something irresistible about an ancient sunken temple, and the man-made ruins at the Downtown Aquarium are almost as good as the real thing! Swarming with unique marine life like zebra sharks, tang (which looks nothing like a unicorn, unfortunately), batfish, and lionfish, this creative exhibit will thrill visitors of all ages. No more than 10 minutes should be plenty for this small space.
Downtown Aquarium in Denver Tickets
Whether you’re a resident of the mile-high city or a visitor just passing through, make sure you take a peek at the CityPASS options available. You can choose from a three, four, or five attraction pass that will save up you to off regular admission prices to some of Denver’s top tourist spots. Your CityPASS will be good for seven days, so you can visit the attractions at your leisure.