Downtown Aquarium has an astounding 500,000 gallons (2 million liters) of underwater habitats. See more than 200 types of sea-dwelling creatures, from zebra sharks to octopus and clown fish. Some come from local waterways, while others are from oceans all over the world. There are hands-on exhibits and the enclosures are well signed, so it’s educational as well as fun.
Not everything at the aquarium resides in water. Surprisingly, a family of rare white tigers call the aquarium its home. They roam around an enclosure reminiscent of the ruins of an Indian temple, and are part of ongoing conservation efforts by the aquarium. Other enclosures with both land dwellers and sea creatures have been created to look like interesting ecosystems and archeological sites. Stroll through the Rainforest enclosure, home to snakes, frogs and tropical birds, as well as red-bellied piranha and venomous freshwater stingrays. At the Sunken Temple, get up close to tarantulas, puffer fish and a 20-foot (six-meter) python.
The Shark Voyage is a miniature train ride beneath a shark-filled tank. Board the train and ride it through the tunnel where white tips, sand tigers and zebra sharks prowl the waters.
The aquarium’s outdoor entertainment area has a carousel, Ferris wheel and drop ride, as well as carnival-style games. Buy an all-day Adventure Pass and hop on and off all of the rides as you please. You can also opt to pay per ride.
You could easily cover the sites at the aquarium in a couple of hours. If you plan to stay longer, stop at the in-house restaurant for lunch or dinner. It has its own indoor aquarium, housing thousands of tropical fish as well as the occasional diver. Seafood is the specialty, although the extensive menu caters to most tastes. Outside the aquarium, there are fast-food options to suit most palates and budgets.
The aquarium is in the northern part of downtown Houston. It’s open daily, and free parking is available.