Houston Downtown Aquarium
If you're looking for a fun Houston attraction or just something to do in Houston on the weekend, then you need to schedule some time to visit the Houston Downtown Aquarium. Billed as an "Underwater Adventure," the Houston Aquarium is fun for all ages. It's a six acre complex in downtown Houston that's home to a 500,000 gallon aquatic wonderland in downtown Houston. This fantastic adventure has a 150,000-gallon aquatic aquarium in the Aquarium Restaurant and 8 different exhibits in the Aquarium that has everything from a magnificent white tiger to a 300 pound boa constrictor to over 200 species of aquatic life from around the globe plus several fun rides as well as games and a gift shop.
We visited the Houston Aquarium on a rainy, cold, overcast day in November with three of our grand kids and we all had a blast. Part of what makes the Aquarium interesting and unique is that during your visit you'll travel through a cave/tunnel like structure that twists and turns through the exhibits.
As you meander through the Houston Aquarium, you get to view six very different and interesting exhibits:
- Louisiana Swamp - this is a walk through Cajun country's marshes and bayous with gators, spotted gar, alligator snapping turtles, huge catfish, crawfish, bullfrogs, and lots more
- Shipwreck - from the swamp you'll enter the insides of a 17th century Spanish Galleon complete with a treasure chest and coral reefs loaded with a variety of fish like a giant pacific octopus, a huge green moray eel, clownfish, tangs, groupers (a gigantic grouper that appeared to be sound asleep between two sunken beams), and a variety of other fish
- Rainforest - as you walk though a tunnel with a roof covered with vines, flowers, and plants you'll feel like you are in a dense dark tropical rainforest with displays of razor sharp teethed piranhas, venomous freshwater stingrays, an emerald tree boa, colorful frogs, and a talking colorful parrot
- Sunken Temple - leave the rainforest and you're into a lost Mayan world with tarantulas, pufferfish, an electric eel, a 20' 300 pound python, and more
- Gulf of Mexico - here you'll see some our Gulf Coast oil rig swimmers like redfish, snapper, and nurse sharks
- White Tigers of Maharaja's Temple - you won't believe what you'll see here - a large beautiful, stately, and playful white tiger who at times loves to play with a big ball, lounge in front of the statue and let out a loud roar and smile for the crowd
Some of our favorites during our visit included: the monstrous boa constrictor, the magnificent white tiger, the sea horse, all the pufferfish, the gigantic catfish, the green tree frog that looked like it was painted on a branch, and the fish with a long horn that reminds me of Jimmy Durante or the re-fueling tube on the front of the RAF spy planes. You might also consider going with a Houston Aquarium guide who will share lots of interesting information about all of the fish as they lead you through all of the exhibits. The signs at each of the exhibits also give you lots of good information about what you'll see in that particular exhibit.
In addition to all of the above exhibits, you'll also get to enjoy:
- Reel To Real - a video with captivating footage that highlights the importance of the oceans as well as an overview of what you'll see in the Houston Aquarium
- The Education Room - here is your opportunity to get up close and personal with animals like bearded dragons, snakes, and more; use an interactive monitor to track in real time sharks that have been tagged; and watch one of several short informative videos
- Stingray Reef - we had a hard time getting the grand kids out of here - they loved petting the stingrays that are amazingly friendly and sincerely seem to love your affectionate pets as they will swim right up to your awaiting fingers
And there is even move just outside the door of the Houston Aquarium:
- The C. P. Huntington Train will take you around some of the grounds and through the center of a 200,000 gallon shark tank loaded with sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, white and black tip sharks, plus the endangered sawfish
- You can take a spin on the Diving Bell Ferris Wheel and enjoy a phenomenal view of the Houston skyline
- For a thrill, try the Lighthouse Dive where you ride to the top of a 65 foot tower and then suddenly drop to the bottom
- The kids will love the splash park, the drinks, snacks, and cotton candy plus the midway games and the Aquatic Carousel where they can ride on the back of a dolphin or an alligator
All of that fun is going to make you hungry and thirsty, so head up the stairs to the full-service Aquarium Restaurant which has an upscale bar (the Dive Lounge), a fully equipped ballroom, and dining in front of a huge aquarium loaded with fish, some of which earlier visitors may have seen swimming in the aquarium! Every seat in the restaurant has a fantastic view of the 150,000 aquatic aquarium and the outside patio has a great view of the Houston skyline.
The staff to guest ratio at the Houston Downtown Aquarium seems very high and everyone of the staff is helpful, outgoing, and friendly, and a wealth of information. They all seem to really love their job!
Bottom line - a good time in a well done aquarium with a variety of interesting fish and a reasonable price!