A visit to a big city can be a great diversion and opportunity for lots of family adventures. We took our kids on a week-long excursion to Denver, Colorado. One day we explored the Denver Aquarium. Our kids enjoyed seeing the colorful aquatic exhibits, touching sting rays, and watching the live Mystic Mermaid show during lunch at the Aquarium Restaurant. Consequently, the Downtown Aquarium is at the top of our list of things to do in Denver with kids!
Explore Colorful Marine Exhibits
A visit to the aquarium is a wonderful opportunity to learn about sea creatures and their ecosystems. One of our family’s favorite shows is Planet Earth because we get to see the amazing details found in nature up close. Aquarium exhibits are especially interesting for kids who can read the signage and look deeper into the mysteries of the ocean. Likewise, younger kids will enjoy seeing colorful starfish up close and watching shoals of shimmery fish swim alongside fierce sharks.
The Denver Aquarium introduced us to a wide variety of ocean creatures up close. A large starfish suctioned to the glass of one exhibit allowed us to see amazing details like its mouth and hundreds of little feelers. You’ll typically only find these creatures at an aquarium or on a tropical reef or tide pool in the wild.
A bunch of stingrays swimming around the touch pool offered a unique hands-on experience. The aquarium guide instructed our kids to gently touch with two fingers. The backs of the stingrays felt slippery and slimy. My girls thought it was so cool to be able to touch the stingrays and be splashed by their flapping fins.
See the Sharks Up Close
Kids can glimpse the magnitude of the ocean and diverse marine life though the aquarium’s large panoramic ocean displays. My little guy watched sharks swimming by just inches behind a large wall of glass. The shark tank held a variety of species including Sand Tiger sharks, Sandbar sharks, Zebra sharks, Blacktip sharks and Bamboo sharks.
The aquarium’s underwater exhibits showed us a variety of sea creatures in their natural habitats. Huge panorama style glass walls provide stunning views of the diversity of the fish, plants and organisms that make their homes in the ocean.
Dine at the Aquarium Restaurant
After our initial walk through of the Denver Aquarium, we stopped for our lunch reservations at the Aquarium Restaurant. Our kids enjoyed views of huge stingrays swimming in the 50,000-gallon centerpiece aquarium right next to our table. The restaurant serves dinner and lunch daily and offers a menu of sandwiches, seafood and fish entrees.
We enjoyed lunch at the Denver Aquarium right next to shoals of fish and under sea creatures!
Watch the Mystic Mermaids Show
During lunch, my kids were thrilled to see the Mystic Mermaids show. These shows happen several times a day. We watched two actors dressed like mermaids swim with the sea life. The mermaids performed choreographed flips and twirls to the Little Mermaid song, “Under the Sea”.
The Mystic Mermaids show is the highlight of a visit to the Denver Aquarium, especially for little girls who love mermaids. It’s worth planning your aquarium visit around the show times so kids can see the mermaids in action!
We even got to meet the mermaids
Meet the Tigers & Otters
To our surprise, we discovered some extra exhibits at the Denver Aquarium. Our kids loved watching the tigers prowl around in the Rainforest Exhibit. We saw two different tigers climbing over rocks and lounging around their recreated rainforest habitat.
One of the tigers swam right up to the glass window which was awesome and somewhat unnerving. The tiger’s massive size emphasized the fact that we were separated by just inches of glass. It’s not often that you get to see such a majestic animal up close.
The otters were a playful group, flipping and swimming around their pool. Otters are naturally playful, intelligent and inquisitive. It was fun to see them happily swimming around and sliding into their pool.
We enjoyed a great family outing at the Denver Aquarium and we were able to see all the exhibits in about 2 and a half hours. We could have stayed longer but our kiddos have limited energy and the exhibits were mostly visual for them. You could spend a lot longer reading all the signs and descriptions that share additional details about each creature and exhibit.
I recommend including a trip to the downtown aquarium on your list of things to do with kids in Denver. The exhibits are well kept and filled with an interesting assortment of sea creatures, marine life and a variety of other animals.
Katie is a writer and influencer based in beautiful Coeur d’Alane, Idaho. She enjoys DIY projects, photography, decorating and going on family adventures. She feels blessed to be a wife, a stay-at-home mom to three kids and a Pacific Northwest lifestyle blogger.