Carrie is a stay-at-home-mom to two children, Jack (3) and Claire (1). Previously an account manager for a local insurance firm, she now spends the days wrangling small children and wondering how the house got so messy, and considers the day a success if everyone is dressed by noon. She also likes horses, books, iced tea and lip gloss. She blogs about learning to be a Stay-at-Home-Mom at Carrie Elle.

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Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park

When Jack was a baby there weren’t a lot of places we could take him that would hold his interest.  He didn’t like being in his stroller and got fussy if we spent too much time in one place.  One day, when looking for something new to try, we took him to an aquarium…and lo and behold, he loved it!

The fish were bight and fun to watch, and we spent the afternoon moving from exhibit to exhibit while he pointed and said “ish! ish!” at every tank.

Fish still captivate Jack, and he’s borderline obsessed with jellyfish (thanks to Octonauts, his favorite show on the Disney Channel).  And now that Claire’s getting a bit bigger, I thought a trip to the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park was in order.

Stingrays at the Children's Aquarium at Fair Park.

All of the exhibits at the Children’s Aquarium are intended to be seen by…children!  Jack was eye level with most exhibits, and ran excitedly from tank to tank (each exhibit is set up as a different ecosystem, and you’ll see everything from the Caribbean shoreline to the Trinity Valley River).

The fun begins as soon as you walk into the aquarium.  Touchable sea life is on display, and kids are encouraged to “pet” the critters (after washing their hands, of course!).  Nervous at first, Jack eventually warmed up to the idea enough to touch a Horseshoe Crab and even an urchin (he never did get quite brave enough to touch the lobster, though!).

From there, we ventured into the freshwater section, where we admired the pretty fish and were shocked when the alligator “statue” started swimming.  That’s right – they have an albino alligator.  Still as stone when we first happened upon her, she ended up settling at the bottom of the water in her tank…and we got up close and personal!

For a little perspective, this alligator was as long as I am tall (I'm 5'6") - she was quite intimidating.

After we had seen the freshwater fish we stepped outside to the stingray and shark exhibits.  I’m not one for touching anything that lives in the ocean, but for those who are so inclined, you can pet the stingrays and even feed them. $2 will buy you a cup of stingray food (shrimp).  I was way too chicken to try this, but my mom, who was with us, gamely fed the little guys three cups of shrimp (much to Jack’s delight!).

Jack also thought the stingrays were *extra* fun because they were surprisingly playful (who knew?).  They swam around splashing us and jumping out of the water a bit…I had no idea they were such lively creatures!

Petting a stingray!

After admiring the stingrays and the nearby sharks, we headed back inside to see the saltwater fish.

Jack loves jellyfish (loves them).  So imagine his delight when he saw a tank of jellyfish with different-colored lights that he could control!  He turned the dial and watched as the jellyfish turned blue, then red, then green…this was great fun.

At this point, I let Claire out of the baby carrier for a bit so she could participate, too (she had been quietly sitting in her baby carrier, staring intently at everything there was to see).  The kids loved the “bubble” in the octopus tank – they would have happily sat in here all afternoon, “submerged” in the tank while fish swam around overhead.

Claire kept reaching for the fish as they swam around her.

Our next stop was (where else?) the gift shop, where Memaw bought a toy jellyfish for Jack to take home.

We were there in the morning, but had we gone in the afternoon we could have watched a feeding demonstration.  Demonstrations are at 2:30 every afternoon…click here to find out which demonstration happens each day (on Tuesdays, they feed the alligator…that looks like fun!).

A trip to the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park is a great way to entertain the kids indoors and inexpensively.  Tickets are $8 for an adult and $6 for kids 3-12, and if you’re a Dallas Zoo member you can take $2 off!

The aquarium is not very large, and we were able to see it all in about an hour.  Jack could have stayed with the stingrays (or the jellyfish, or the Horseshoe Crab) for quite a bit longer, but I was getting antsy to get the sleepy baby in the car and headed home.  If you have an older child, you might be able to fit in another museum while you’re at Fair Park…it’s a big place and there’s a lot to do there.

Have fun and pet a stingray for me!

Looking for more fun things to in Dallas?  The Dallas Arboretum is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Fair Park.  The M-Line Trolley is also just a short drive away (and free, and air-conditioned!).

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