Over a thousand miles inland, and famously one mile high, Denver and its renowned Rocky Mountain surroundings are not the places one would expect to find a diversity of aquatic life. Thankfully, this is the case, through the efforts of three major institutions in the area. Whether returning to family, visiting as a vacation, or looking for something to do near home, read on for some of our favorite aquariums around Denver.
SeaQuest Littleton is a great option for families and groups of various age groups, with an approachable, interaction-based layout. Unique ecosystems and their affiliated human cultures are on display in various exhibits, as well as a number of iconic species such as caimans, stingrays, Asian small-clawed otters, reef sharks, and ancient tortoises. Unique opportunities to interact and learn about these animals in a hands-on manner are available by appointment and include snorkeling among a community of tropical fishes, rays, and sharks, feeding (or playing) with otters, and a relaxing doctor fish pedicure.
The Downtown Aquarium is a unique side of Denver, with just as much an emphasis on biological diversity as it has on entertainment. Dining in a vibrant space surrounded by over one hundred species of tropical species, witnessing the superhuman feats of the mermaid team, snorkeling through diverse aquatic communities, braving the shark tank from inside a cage, overnight stays, and tagging along with marine biologists are just some of the many experiences offered by the Downtown Aquarium. Beyond numerous exhibits featuring otters, moray eels, piranhas, lionfish, parrotfish, and the giant Pacific octopus (just to name a few), the Downtown Aquarium is a great option for all, given the scope of activities and interests represented.
While not technically an aquarium, the lengths that the Denver Zoo has gone to include and protect aquatic life cannot be left out of our list. Aside from its formidable roster of land species, myriad aquatic icons also reside at the Denver Zoo, including the African penguin, alligator snapping turtle, archerfish, harbor seal, Malayan tapir, river hippopotamus, Humboldt penguin, and cownose stingray. Watch the brilliant California sea lion show off their tricks, feed the cheerful rays, or tour state-of-the-art Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital. Visitors of all interests will enjoy the scale of the Denver Zoo, for fans of a specific species, those pursuing a career in animal care, and anyone looking for a fun day among nature. Aside from the wealth of species and different events, there is also a 4-D theater, festive train, walkable open aviary and various shops and eateries. For a family activity that includes all, a group event, date night, or a solid way to pass a day, we recommend the Denver Zoo, for its aquatic life and so much more.
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