Because it's spring break, and because we're crossing off some of the items on our spring-break wish-list, I headed to the Aquarium with my kids on a grey and rainy day this week.
The Vancouver Aquarium is definitely one of my kids' favorite destinations, and if I ask them to choose where we're going for a day out, this is usually top of the list. They love watching the animals, birds, bugs and various sea creatures, they love being able to touch, explore, and really get up close and personal with the exhibits, and they love just hanging out there in general. I like taking them there because it's a kid-friendly place that is educational and fun, and is also interesting for adults, making it a great family destination.
When we arrived at the Aquarium this time though, I did become a little worried. The long-awaited expansion of the Aquarium had obviously gotten under way, because the usual entrance was closed, and a new (very nice-looking) entrance was open for business on the side of the building towards the parking lot. I wondered if this would mean a lot of closed off areas inside too, something I knew my kids would probably not like.
|One of the new tanks in the entrance area.|
|The big snake.|
The rest of the Aquarium looked much the same as before, and that was OK with me and the kids. They have their favorite spots throughout and we visited them all.
|The resident Pacific octopus.|
|Scarlet ibis in the tropical zone.|
|Up close and personal with some tarantulas.|
|In the Aquarium's play area.|
There are several small tanks in this area where the kids can touch sea creatures like sea cucumbers, star fish, and sea urchins, though we were not lucky enough to be there for one of the shows on this particular visit.
|One of the interactive exhibits in the Arctic zone.|
We have a family membership at the Aquarium, and I think it's worth every penny, but it isn't a cheap place to visit if you're bringing a whole family and paying regular admission: $21 for adults, $16 for youth, $13 for kids 4-12 years old (younger kids are free).
However, it is very kid-friendly, there's lots to see, and the kids can explore, touch, and really get into many of the exhibits. There's a 4D theatre (yes, four D!), and also all sorts of activities and shows on at different times during the day: feeding-times for some of the animals, dolphin and beluga shows, and so on.
When it isn't raining, it's also nice to hang out in the outdoor area and watch the belugas, otters, and sea lions. And on a really nice day, you can combine an Aquarium visit with a walk around Stanley Park.
|Parrots in the Aquarium's tropical zone.|
If you're going to the Aquarium, try to find some 2-for-1 coupons or similar (some tourist flyers will have them), to save money. The Aquarium also gives you $2 off the price of admission if you can show them a valid transit pass, for example a bus- or SkyTrain ticket.
We usually bring our own snack or lunch when we go here. There is a café on the premises, but I find it a bit pricey and also rather busy if it's around lunch-time. Since my kids can also be a little picky about food and snacks, it's just a better bet for us to bring our own.
The Vancouver Aquarium is a very popular and busy place on most days, and holidays and weekends are busier still. However, there are usually less people in the mornings and late afternoons.
There is a lot of parking near the Aquarium, though it tends to fill up quickly on busy days. If the weather is good, you can park your car in another area of Stanley Park (or take transit!) and make a walk to the Aquarium a part of a day out.