This September we took the opportunity to visit the Dallas Aquarium while all of the other kids were in school. Oh, the joys of homeschooling. It’s actually hard to believe that it took us this long to get here. We don’t usually miss a zoo or aquarium.

What’s really amazing about this aquarium is that there’s a lot more here than meets the eye. The building looks very unassuming from the outside, but inside is a unique world that builds layer upon layer as you make your way down through the facility.

You start by experiencing a variety of bird species before you even get to the ticket window. Inside you go up a flight of stairs that brings you to a multi level jungle area where there’s a variety of monkey species and more birds. In the middle of this area, a multi-story waterfall flows down two levels into a pond full of giant catfish and a manatee. We were fortunate in that they were feeding the sloth, which provided for fun photo opportunities. We also got to see them feeding some very small monkeys. We also made it to the giant otter feeding. There are several other Amazonian aquariums on this level as well.

As you make your way down, you find a level where you can see into the pond that holds the giant fish. Here you really see just how big these fish are and there are many more species of fish in there that you can’t see from above. From here you enter a room that has a variety of saltwater tanks from all around the world, including a unique tank that contains fish with glowing eyes. It was the craziest thing I’d ever seen. The jellyfish tank was also very cool.

There is so much to see in the aquarium that it’s hard to cover them all. The next truly amazing experience was the shark tank and tunnel. There’s nothing cooler than seeing a hammerhead and giant ray swim over your head. Then there was the jaguar – an unexpected sight to find at an aquarium. We ran out of time, but they also have a penguin exhibit.

I highly recommend this aquarium. The entrance cost is reasonable and you could spend an easy 2-3 hours here, if not a little more.