A Visit to Children's Aquarium at Fair Park Dallas
On a cold wintry day when we were babysitting our two Dallas grandkids, to get out of the house and have some fun we decided to visit the Children's Aquarium at Fair Park - and all four of us had a blast. The Aquarium is geared toward young kids and is home to a wide and diverse collection of thousands of aquatic animals including marine and freshwater fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. From our grandkids and my perspective the Children's Aquarium at Fair Park has got to be one of the best attractions in Dallas.
The Children's Aquarium is housed in it's original Art Deco building in Fair Park and it opened in 1936 as part of the Texas Centennial Exposition. The Aquarium is part of the Dallas Zoo family and in 2010 it received an $8 million transformation which included new exhibits and several other improvements
Part of what makes the Children's Aquarium fun for younger kids is it's children friendly design with exhibits at their eye level or with steps for the kids to easily get at eye level with the fish rather than being held by adults plus there are interactive exhibits for hands-on exploration and touch pools. Our kids loved viewing sharks, jellyfish, eels, rays, piranhas, turtles, clown fish, and other species from popular movies and books,
As we walked in, the first thing the grandkids spotted was the Coastal Touch Tank filled with horseshoe crabs, sea stars, sea urchins, anemones, slipper lobsters, and other creatures that they could observe, learn about from one of the staff, and most importantly touch and feel each of them.
Next up was a tour through a variety of different sized exhibits built in and containing just about every imaginable fish as well as reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. And it was hard keeping up with the grandkids as they ran from exhibit to exhibit calling "Duke, come quick and look at this" and the other one saying "wow, you've got to see this!" I was dead tired by the time we left.
In addition to the Coastal Touch Tank the Children's Aquarium at Fair Park has five different exhibit areas:
- Freshwater Zone - lakes ponds and rivers filled with alligators, snapping turtles, electric eels, piranhas, and more
- Inter-tidal Zone - home to some diverse and beautiful species that need to be tough to survive the tidal pounding - upside down jellyfish, starfish, sea urchins, lobster, seahorse, and porkfish
- Shore Zone - these crawling creatures try to survive along the dangerous ocean shores - spiny lobsters, royal gramma, hermit crabs, and walking batfish (a fish that walks underwater!)
- Near Shore Zone - some recognizable species that spend their life among the beautiful coral reefs (lucky them) - giant octopus, a couple eel species, puffer and clown fish, angelfish, sea turtles (one of which was trapped in a net, rescued but lost two of it's flippers, and now lives happily in the Aquarium)
- Offshore Zone - some unusual creatures that live in deeper parts of the ocean - lionfish, pharaoh cuttlefish, nautilus, nurse shark, and a few more coming soon
But the highlight for the grandkids was Stingray Bay - an outdoor pavilion where they could view rays, turtles, and a variety of sharks swimming in a large pool with a underwater glass viewing area plus a petting pool. At the petting pool they got to pet and feed some very friendly rays. The stingrays would swim up to the edge of the glass wall and allow you to pet and feed them - amazing! The wife had to drag me and the grandkids away from the petting pool!
Each day of the week at a specific time, you can watch the staff feed the sharks, turtles, piranhas, alligators, and eels. In addition to the feeding demonstrations, the Children's Aquarium at Fair Park hosts birthday parties, overnight camp-ins, educational programs, and more.
Admission prices are very reasonable, parking is convenient, and you'll find the Children's Aquarium between the Texas Star Ferris wheel and the Fair Park.