A Fun Time at the Austin Aquarium

Austin Aquariumit was a very cold December day (29 degrees) in Austin when we were babysitting our grandkids, which means I needed to find us something fun and warm that we could do together. I'd heard good things about the so we decided to check it out. The Austin Aquarium opened in 2013 with a goal to "....inspire a young generation of ocean explorers and conservationists through education and a shared experience with a live animal and to create an appreciation for the oceans.” They have done a great job of achieving that goal with 35 exhibits and over 8000 living animals that represent habitats from the Oregon shores to remote Indonesian islands plus a wide variety of special activities and events. Their motto is Sea to Believe and you won't believe all that you'll see, some of which included's:
  • an interactive Lorikeet Aviary plus toucans, Macaws, and more
  • hundreds of cold water and tropical fish including sharks
  • a stingray touch and feeding tank
  • beautiful and very colorful corals and other invertebrates
  • tropical fish as well as cold water fish including dozens of species of rockfish and flatfish
  • a Rain Forest area filled with exotic reptiles and amphibians
  • a giant Pacific octopus
  • and on select days, you'll even see live Mermaids

IguanaAs we walked into the Austin Aquarium the first thing the kids saw that got them excited was a huge iguana sunning itself on the front seat of an old motor boat -"is it alive? Can we pet it?" And the answer to each question was yes and they reluctantly petted the leathery skinned gently iguana who seemed to really be enjoying it - the eyes closed and he remained perfectly still. After petting the iguana the "wows, look at this, oh how pretty/ugly/scary, what is that, etc.." started and seemed to continue for most of our journey through the Austin Aquarium.

When we entered the Aquarium we purchased some medallions that could be redeemed to feed the fish or birds and as soon as they saw the stingray tank the grandkids took out the coins and loaded up on stingray food. What a fun experience for them and I think they could have spent most of my retirement fund feeding the stingrays for several days. A big tank was full of stingrays that would swim up to the edge and let you pet them and feed them - amazing! Gentle, friendly, and hungry!

Stingray got the foodFeeding the stingrays a smiley stingray

The next hour was spent peering into a wide variety of exhibits filled with everything from small tropical and colorful fish swimming around some beautiful coral reefs to some huge catfish, a tank with four small alligators, and a shrimp that would swim up to your hand submerged in his tank and start cleaning it! "Oh, that tickles!"

An Eelcolorful fishAlligators

obstacle course at Austin AquariumI thought that we would never get the grandkids out of the two level obstacle tunnel course with things to climb on or over as you tried to get though the obstacles and to the end of the course and down the slide in the shortest amount of time. They came out huffing and puffing with a "that was a blast."

Then we came to the Lorikeet Aviary where they spent the other half of my retirement fund feeding the Lorikeets. There must of been a hundred of them in a small area and when the kids got their small serving of a special nectar the birds would flock to and nest on their hand, arm, and head waiting for a turn at the nectar. "Oops, one pooped on my head."

Then we walked out of that aviary and into the Parakeet Aviary and sat on a bench waiting for the Parakeets to land on everything from our head to our toes.

Birds at the Austin Aquariumthe Austin Aquarium Aviary Birds at the Austin Aquarium

Feeding the fish Colorful parrotAfter exiting the Aviary is a hugh tank full of colorful fish that the kids fed for what seemed like hours. The fish, and a couple turtles, would swim to surface in huge schools with open mouths that seemed be saying "feed me, feed me!" Next we were in the Rain Forest filled with a wide variety of exotic reptiles and amphibians - lots of snakes including what looked like a 10 foot albino snake, poisonous dart frogs, colorful Macaws, and lots more interesting reptiles.

"Can we feed the sharks?" was the next thing I heard and how can you resist an opportunity to feed a shark - that's much more exciting then saving my wife's retirement fund!

And when we ended the tour of the Austin Aquarium in the well stocked Aquarium gift shop with hundreds of cute cuddly stuffed fish, turtles, sharks, and lots more I was sure the other half of my wife's retirement fund was history.

Not scared of a sharkGift Shop octopus

What a fun way to spend a cold wintry day. The grandkids and grandparents both loved it. And contrary to some of the above statements the Austin Aquarium is very affordable and the food for the fish or birds is only one token ($2.85).

The Austin Aquarium also has a wide variety of events and special programs, some of which include:

  • feeding and touching crocodiles
  • holding slithering snakes
  • taking a selfie with one of their exotic large breed birds
  • birthday parties or parties for other events
  • octopus encounters
  • sleep with the sharks programs
  • education programs and events
  • behind the scenes tours for those curious about just what it takes to keep an aquarium in good working order


What are you waiting for, go have a fun day at the Austin Aquarium.

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