A few weeks ago, we visited the Houston Downtown Aquarium. My husband and I had been there quite a few years ago when we were dating, and it wasn’t all that much to behold. We were hoping for expanded exhibits and when I got a discount through a local photography club that I am in, we decided to revisit it.
The Houston Downtown Aquarium is not owned by any sort of educational group, but by Landry’s Restaurants. Even the official website has “restaurant” in the URL address. Crammed into a few city blocks, the facility consists of a building housing a small aquarium exhibit, restaurant, bar, and gift shop, a small outdoor game arcade and amusement park, and a short train ride that goes through a shark tunnel. The aquarium boasts lots of special events, and is available for rental for everything from parties to sleepovers in front of the white tiger cage.
I was most interested to see the aquarium portion. It was sadly lacking in a variety and quantity of fish and information. I’ve seen more species of aquatic life at the Dallas World Aquarium (and they are constantly expanding and improving their exhibits). There are a few petting tanks in the middle of the exhibit, and kids had fun touching and giggling at the baby sharks, horseshoe crabs, and anemones. But, if you want to see a great aquarium, this isn’t one of them.
However, not everyone is a fish-nut, and there are lots of other fun things to do and see. For older children and adults, the train ride through the shark tunnel is a lot of fun (if very short), and the game arcade and rides are clean, fun, and safe. There’s even a really cool carousel where you can ride on creatures of the deep. The food is great (though, pretty steep in price), and the gift shop is stocked with every kind of toy, book, and keychain you could think of.
Overall, if you are looking for something fun to do with older children, this might be it, especially if you can get a coupon.