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Aquatic Adventures at Houston’s Downtown Aquarium
May 15, 2023 By CityPASS
As America's fourth largest city, Houston is bursting with experiences for the whole family. The Downtown Aquarium Houston is one of many attractions and home to amazing sea creatures, reptiles, and amphibians — like piranhas, alligators, and a poison dart frog. This fun and educational location has so much to offer as one of the best things to do in Houston and is far from your standard aquarium. It's also a restaurant, amusement park, and event center, all in one location.
The Aquarium Adventure Exhibits
The Downtown Aquarium Houston exhibits feature many animals in habitats created to imitate their natural ones and some with historical twists like El Dorado and 1940s India.
- Texas Bayou — Get up close to h turtles, alligators, bullfrogs, and more.
- Shipwreck — Check out this reproduction of a sunken Spanish galleon and observe living coral reefs, clownfish, and a giant pacific octopus.
- Sunken Temple — View a variety of interesting fish and other animals, like pufferfish, lionfish, electric eels, tarantulas, and snakes.
- Underwater Rig — Watch offshore rig divers and incredibly diverse sea life.
- Rainforest — Return to the surface for a replica of the world’s rainforests and expect to see piranhas, stingrays, emerald tree boas, rainforest frogs, and colorful birds.
- Stingray Reef — Take advantage of touch tanks filled with live stingrays at this fun exhibit.
- Discovery Zone — Brimming with ocean creatures, interactive screens, and daily animal encounters, it's educational and entertaining for everyone.
- Tigers of the Maharaja’s Temple — Bengal and white tigers hang out in a protected environment modeled after the ruins of an ancient temple.
Games and Amusement Rides
Try hopping on one of the Downtown Aquarium Houston rides or playing its games to make lasting memories with your entire family.
Observe shark species and other sea creatures as you ride the C.P. Huntington train through the Shark Voyage tunnel. It's especially fun and spooky at night.
Experience the downtown Houston skyline from the Diving Bell Ferris Wheel and take a thrilling ride on the Lighthouse Dive Tower with more breathtaking views and a 65-foot drop.
The Aquatic Carousel puts a unique spin on things with animals like alligators and dolphins. Bounce up and down — just like a frog — on the Frog Hopper, which is perfect for the younger crowd. The Aqua Wheel also caters to tiny visitors.
Most rides require an accompanying adult for any child under 42". Adventurers must be 36" to ride the Frog Hopper and 42" to ride the Lighthouse Dive.
Children and teenagers can learn all about sea life thanks to the many educational activities available throughout the year, including those for school and scout groups. Below is an overview of some of the programs currently available. Most of these require you to book them in advance of your visit.
Spend a day with sea creatures, feeding animals, and much more as a Marine Biologist for a Day or Zoologist for the Day.
Feed and touch animals in the aquarium, including porcupines, sloths, snakes, parrots, etc., with the Animal Meet and Greets. Working on the Wild Side allows teens to go behind the scenes to learn about animal conservation, training, and care.
Stay up late and learn more about tiger conservation programs with Wild Dreams Overnight or join a Sea Safari Camp packed with games, adventures, activities, crafts, and animal encounters.
After animal spotting and thrill-seeking, you'll want to grab a bite. Thankfully, Landry's, Inc., the parent company of the Aquarium restaurant, sets the standard for fine dining in a unique atmosphere. Visitors can eat a delicious meal surrounded by leisurely swimming ocean creatures — in total safety, of course.
Downtown Aquarium's "Know Before You Go" Policies
Houston’s Aquarium has a few policies you'll want to know about before visiting. Aside from general rules like good behavior, no smoking outside of the designated area, and no carrying dangerous items, there are rules specific to the aquarium, too.
- Ride restrictions prevent children under 42" from riding some rides or require an adult to ride with them.
- The rides are closed in bad weather.
- Some animal encounters are age-restricted, with most being open to kids starting at age six.
- Working on the Wild Side is limited to children ages 12 to 17.
- Service animals are welcome in the Aquarium and do not incur any extra charge. However, service animals are not allowed on rides or on the tiger exhibit.
- Wheelchair access is available throughout the aquarium.
- Strollers must be left outside attractions and can't be taken through the line. There is no stroller park at the aquarium.
- The aquarium's parking lot is currently cash-only.
If you have any questions or concerns about the park's policies, you can ask a staff member.
When's the Best Time To Visit Houston's Downtown Aquarium?
The Downtown Aquarium is open year-round, so you can schedule your visit when it works best for you. Houston weather is warm for much of the year, though it can be scorching in the late summer and early fall.
The best thing to do is pack layers. The hot summers mean the indoor air conditioning can be set to freezing. The rest of the year, you may want shorts and tank tops one day and long pants and sleeves the next.
Spring weather is mild, though you may want to avoid this season if you suffer from seasonal allergies. The aquarium is also fully decorated for the holidays in November and December — perfect for soaking up the seasonal spirit.
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Header Image Courtesy of Downtown Aquarium