More than Fish: the Dallas World Aquarium

Sometimes when you are traveling you need a SLAM DUNK hit with kids.  The kids enjoyed the Arboretum in Dallas, but it was extraordinarily hot and kids under ten probably don’t find flowers and plants as interesting as I do.  So after a delicious lunch at Root Burger (another post, I promise!), we loaded the kids up and went to the Dallas World Aquarium.

First of all, the name of this place, to me, means FISH.  And sea life.  One of my favorite places on the planet is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is all about water creatures.  While the Dallas World Aquarium does indeed have a lovely and interesting collection of sea life, it also includes many different kinds of animals.  Almost like an indoor zoo, which on this HOT DAY, was a welcome relief.

Right as you enter you ascend a staircase to get you to the top of a Rainforest exhibit.  This is such a cool idea, since as a spectator you can see all the different levels of the Rainforest as you make your way back down.  From the very top you can see down into the water at the bottom, and see the top of the manatee and other large swimming creatures.  At the very bottom you encounter the actual aquarium.  Brilliant, really.  Along both sides of the walkway are very interesting creatures to see, like an Anteater, and a family of playful sea otters.  In the trees you can enjoy monkey families climbing and playing, and birds washing in the waterfall.

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The bottom level has access to penguins, fish collections from around the world including a fascinating seahorse exhibit, Chinese dragons (amazing sea horse like creatures that look like floating seaweed), and bizarre, gargantuan crustaceans.  There are also exhibits of frogs, lizards, and other small creatures.

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I thought the Flamingos were particularly lovely.  They were so vibrant!

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At the bottom of the exhibit were penguins as well.

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There is also a gargantuan shark tank, which you view in a 360 experience by walking into a tunnel.  The sharks swim all around.  There are hammerheads and sawsharks.  One of the sawsharks kept resting on the ceiling, giving an unusual view of his underside.  The sharks were awesome, but the best creature by far was the enormous manatee.  We had been watching the manatee from the top story of the rainforest, and were excited to see her better in her habitat.  We got right up to the glass and waited, watching her a bit off in the distance play with the floating logs.  After a few minutes, she noticed us and swam right up to the glass.  And then an amazing thing happened.  She waved!  I kid you not!  As we were laughing and pointing and waving back she did it again.  What a treat from this sweet cow of the sea.  Doesn’t she seem like an underwater Jersey cow?  But possibly quite a bit smarter than a cow?

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Well, the aquarium was the perfect afternoon activity with kids.  They all gave it a thumbs up!  My nephew kept getting so outrageously excited he infected those around him with his enthusiasm.  He was becoming part of the experience!  Here is a shot my husband grabbed when he saw him through the glass of an exhibit on the other side.  You can’t deny the wonder on that face!

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My daughter wanted to take the manatee home, but we settled on a manatee necklace from the gift shop instead.  Whew!  Thankfully, being a mature 11 years old, we were able to negotiate this, unlike my son and his infamous two year old fit about wanting to take a buffalo home from Yellowstone.  I’m a terrible parent, I know!  Poor little guy didn’t get to take home a buffalo!

If you are planning some time in the Dallas Fort-Worth area, this is a great place to spend a an afternoon.  Perfect for kids and grown ups who love the wonders of nature!

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