November 2013 saw the opening of the Austin Aquarium, an anticipated addition to the Austin area. Located off of Anderson Mill Rd., the aquarium houses 35 exhibits that feature a wide variety of amphibians, an interactive Lorikeet Aviary and a slew of cold water and tropical fish. There are also sharks, a stingray touch tank and reptiles.
The aquarium is dark and cool, making all of the exhibits stand out and have an oceanic feel. Upon entering, the first thing you will see is a shipwrecked boat, filled with water and anemones. A staff member will tell you all about the anemones and you are welcome to touch them!
Across from the boat are a few tanks with shrimp, a nautilus and jellyfish. The main jellyfish tank is a pillar-shaped structure with lights that rotated which made the jellyfish appear to go from red, to blue, to green. It was a cool effect and relaxing to watch.
The aquarium has 3-4 touch tanks. You and your kids are welcome to put their hands in the water and touch stingrays, sharks (little ones!), and starfish (!). We were very surprised by this feature and were excited to see what starfish and leopard sharks felt like. There are staff members at each tank instructing children on how to properly do this, and to give information about the creatures. You’re welcome to ask them anything, they’re very knowledgeable and helpful.
The back area of the aquarium is reserved for birthday parties. There are several tables and you are welcome to bring outside food, cakes and decorations. Parties include an educational interactive tour, shark, fish or bird food, goodie bags and more. Party members also have access to their own jungle gym. Right now, you can save 25 percent on a birthday party for 10, making the cost only $135 (a $180 value)! Read more about birthday parties here.
Reptiles included chameleons, frogs, lizards, skinks and our son’s favorite, a giant tortoise. When we were visiting, they had the tortoise, aptly named Spartacus, outside of its dwelling so that visitors could pet him and check him out. A staff member was available providing information and answering questions.
The aquarium regularly holds Sleep with the Sharks events, where guests receive a nocturnal animals tour, a behind-the scenes tour, a movie (bring treats & popcorn!) and a continental tank-side breakfast and morning bird-feeding. Right now you can save 25 percent off the non-member price, making the cost $48.71 per person. Learn more about the Sleep with the Sharks events and purchase your ticket here.
If you plan on making aquarium visits a regular thing, look into the Family Annual Pass where you can get unlimited admission for two named adults and up to three children for an entire year. This pass is normally $139.95 but you can get them right now for 25 percent off, making the cost just $104.96. Learn more about annual passes and purchase them here.
General Admission prices are $9.95 for ages 2 – 11, $14.95 for ages 12 and up and $12.95 for seniors and military members. Save $2 when you buy online! The Austin Aquarium is open Sunday – Thursday from 10 am – 7 pm and from 10 am – 8 pm on Friday and Saturday. Foster children are always FREE, as are children 2 and under. Foster children can bring a state-issued ID to get in free anytime. Follow Austin Aquarium on Facebook for random deals and specials.
The aquarium is off to a great start, and we’re excited for what the future holds!