Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Visit The Austin Aquarium

August is the toughest month for Austin parents. It’s so hot, you can’t be outside for very long. The swimming holes and pools are either over-crowded or your kids are so “over it”. You’ve already seen every kids’ movie more than once. You feel like you’re out of options. But there is hope in the form of air conditioning at The Austin Aquarium.

My kiddo loves animals more than anything, especially sea creatures. I don’t know if she inherited this love from me – I really wanted to be a marine biologist, and even apprenticed at the Pittsburgh Zoo in high school – or if it’s from her intense binging of The Octonauts and Wild Kratts. When we’re deciding what to do on a weekend, her suggestions almost always include some zoo-type activity. In the heat of August, it’s easy to talk her out of visiting her friend Larry the albino rat snake at the Austin Zoo if we promise a trip to the aquarium.

Located in the Lacks Center near the intersection of 183 and Anderson Mill, the Austin Aquarium is an air-conditioned oasis featuring a healthy cross-section of the animal kingdom. Upon entering, there’s a chance you’ll be greeted at the door by a blue and yellow Macaw, perched by the front desk. As you make your way through the aquarium’s different rooms, you experience a large number of aquatic life you never would have seen in Austin prior to the aquarium’s 2013 opening.

Hello, birdy
Let me state for the record that if you’re going to compare the Austin Aquarium to some of the larger ones in the US – like Monterey, Atlanta or Corpus Christi, of course it’s going to come up short. There just isn’t the real estate to have the large habitats to hold penguins, dolphins or flamingos.
The size makes it easy to navigate, so there isn’t a chance you’ll miss something. There’s even a kids’ play-area in the center, along with a birthday party section and concession stand. On weekends, you may even spot a mermaid.

This is one of those "Can you spot the fish?" photos

Garden eels

Our family's top favorite animals are:
• Stingrays – you can pet them
• Remoras – these are fish that attach themselves to sharks
• Crocodiles – baby ones
• Shark eggs – you can practically see them hatching
• Seahorses – did you know the males carry the eggs?
• Garden eels – they stick out of the sand like blades of grass
• Black-throated Monitor – like a Komodo dragon, only smaller
• Giant Pacific Octopus – eerily creepy
• The gift shop – not an animal, but you have to walk through it before you leave, making it Lucy’s favorite part of the experience because she usually gets a little toy.

Like being inside the tank
Mermaid sighting!

Climbing the ladder to the slide

A toy for the good girl who posed for photos

In addition, there are tanks full of tropical fish and koi; a rainforest section including snakes, tree frogs and other reptiles; birds that you touch and feed; and sharks.

So if you have an animal lover in your life, the Austin Aquarium is a fun way to spend a hot afternoon during these dog days of August.

Admission to the Aquarium is as follows:
Ages 12 and up – $14.95
Ages 2-11 – $9.95
Ages under 2 – FREE
Ages 55+/Active Military/College Students – $12.95
TIP: Purchase tickets online and save $3/person!

Membership packages are also available.

Purchase animal food when checking in at the front desk.

Sun-Thurs: 10am-7pm
Fri-Sat: 10am-8pm

Location details:
13530 US Hwy. 183, Suite #101
Austin, Texas 78750
(512) 222-5586

Visiting the Austin Aquarium is an item on the August Summer Fun Checklist for Kids! Be sure to mark it off your list and upload your photos to Instagram with the hashtag #AustinSummerFun for a chance to win weekly prizes!

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