Located between the roller coasters and slides of Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park and the trendy bars and restaurants of the Highlands district, the Downtown aquarium is an often overlooked attraction of Mile High City. Forgotten, that is, by everyone except the hordes of families mesmerized by its more than a million gallons of tanks every summer.
In these tanks? Everything from cutthroat trout (the state fish of Colorado) to stingrays (which you can pet) to sharks (which you can actually swim with). To make sure you see every one of them on your visit, as well as the other land creatures on site, we’ve compiled the Essential Guide to the Downtown Denver Aquarium.
The most convenient way to get admission is to buy tickets online before your visit, a foolproof strategy on weekends when the crowds descend on the aquarium. Since June 15, reservations have been staggered every 15 minutes to ensure social distancing. (Visitors aged three and over should always wear masks.) Be sure to use the ticket within half an hour of your time slot, otherwise it will void. That said, during our visit the ticket office staff member stated that on weekdays tickets are usually available without an appointment.
- Adults (12-64): $ 23.50
- Seniors (65 and over): $ 22.50
- Children (3-11): $ 17.50
- Children under two: Release
- Car park: $ 8
The main exhibition is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
In non-pandemic times, the aquarium typically offers additional experiences through premium ticket options like the Aquarium Exhibit Plus Pass, which costs $ 5 more than general admission and grants its holder access to an experience. 4-D (a 15-minute film in a 40-seat theater equipped with physical effects). Or for $ 6.50 more than the standard fare, the Aquarium Exhibit Value Ticket will give you the 4-D experience, plus two of the following perks: Food for the Interactive Exhibit on the stingrays, make-up, a small soda an ascent of the coconut palm (an artificial tree that you can climb using a rope and a harness).
However, the 4-D Experience and other additional attractions are still temporarily on hold due to COVID-19, and the Economy Ticket and Plus Pass are currently not available. But be sure to check the aquarium website for updated information on reopenings and availability of premium tickets.
What to do
Adventure Aquarium Exhibition
The main attraction. This exhibit comes with the price of general admission and travels through nine different habitats, from North America to the rainforest to a coral lagoon. Highlights include: Emmet, a 10-year-old North American river otter who can swim at seven miles an hour and enjoys displaying that speed as he walks through his enclosure; a glass tunnel on which drift large stingrays; Besar, a tiger known to take a nap after devouring a large portion of pork; and sharks 20 feet long. Your kids’ favorite comes at the end, when an outdoor tank allows them to lean over the glass and touch the stingrays passing through the water.
Swim with sharks (and other sea creatures)
With the help of Littleton A-1 Diving and travel, the Downtown Aquarium also offers its guests the opportunity to dive. Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m., guests aged six and over can dive with stingrays, groupers and eels in the Exhibition under the sea ($ 85). Starting at 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, certified divers can take a close look at sand tiger sharks in the Sunken shipwreck exhibit ($ 185; all required equipment is included in the price). For those who want to feel the thrill of being shark bait but do not have their diving certifications, there is also the Shark cage experience Saturdays and Sundays (for ages eight and over; $ 100 for 20 minutes underwater).
Throughout the summer, the Downtown Aquarium offers an educational program to its youngest. Students can participate in learning throughout the day thanks to the “Marine biologist for a day” and “Zoologist for a day” circuits (both cost $ 65 per day and run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; check the Event calendar to find the day scheduled for your child’s class). If one day is not enough, the downtown aquarium also welcomes students from grades 1 to 6 for five days. summer camps. On July 2, 16 and 30 and again on August 6 and 27, children aged 5 to 11 (accompanied by an adult) can spend the night at the Downtown Aquarium ($ 65 per person; each adult is free with five paying children).
Express Aquarium and Aquatic Carousel
Parked between the Aquarium and the South Platte River, the Aquarium Express is a kid-centric electric train (although runners under 36 inches must be accompanied by a guardian). Likewise, the aquatic carousel (children under 42 inches must ride with a guardian) replaces traditional horses with sea monsters. Both cost $ 3 each way.
Where to eat
The Downtown Aquarium is owned by Landry’s Restaurants, the owner of chains such as Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and, yes, Aquarium Restaurants. Naturally, the menu of Denver Outpost is heavy on seafood and steak, with everything from grilled Atlantic salmon to grilled captain’s dish, or classic steak and lobster. Of course, there is also a children’s menu consisting of mac and cheese, pizza, and grilled cheese. The main attraction of the on-site restaurant, however, is the 50,000-gallon aquarium filled with fish.
However, if eating on tilapia while other sea creatures are watching seems fishy, ââthere are plenty of other restaurants in the area. Just to the east, Platte Street is lined with famous restaurants. Pizzeria Napoletana by Proto bakes thin crust pies, while Bridle sandwiches are great for a quick lunch. At the east end of the street, Maria empanadas offers delicious, affordable selections that even the pickiest kids will enjoy (just see if they can resist the ham and cheese).