I love visiting new places, exploring, and having amazing experiences. Mommy and Daddy are always trying to think of activities that I can do and places where I can go. Apparently not all locations are toddler friendly and finding suitable activities that are both safe and fun isn’t as easy as it sounds.
We have quite a bit of fun in our own neighbourhood just visiting local parks and playgrounds. I love going to these places but once in a while it’s nice to try something new and out of the ordinary. Last fall Mommy and Daddy had one of their best ideas and we went to the Ripley’s Aquarium. It really is fun for the whole family and they’re not even paying me to say that!
The Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto is located right in the heart of the city. Sadly that’s a bit of a drive for us so we can’t make this a weekly visit but going every once in a while is certainly not impossible. It takes a couple of hours to tour the aquarium if you go at a leisurely pace and that leaves plenty of time to make it a day trip and enjoy some of the sights and sounds of the area.
The fun starts as soon as you get into the aquarium. You walk into a dimly lit world with floor to ceiling walls of glass. Most of the lighting comes from the tanks themselves which contain a variety of creatures. Each tank is beautifully designed and truly a habitat for the lifeforms that call it home, all 20,000 of them.
There are, of course, fish of every shape, size, and colour that you can imagine. Ripley’s also has a number of other marine creatures. My personal favourite were the jellyfish and they had an entire section devoted to them. Mommy liked the octopus and the seahorses. Daddy’s favourites were the sharks and the stingrays.
Ripley’s aquarium also has several touch exhibits where you can interact with animals such as Daddy’s favourite stingrays as well as horseshoe crabs, sharks, and scarlet cleaner shrimps. I tried out the horseshoe crab touch exhibit but I was too distracted by the water itself to feel any crabs. Maybe I’ll have better luck next time. I am bigger now and quite a bit more mature.
Nearby was a huge water table with all sorts of activities and I played there for quite a while. By the time I was ready to move on I was thoroughly soaked. If you’re anything like me I would strongly recommend bringing a change of clothes which I will certainly do on my next visit. Luckily the aquarium is quite warm and my clothes were dry before we made our way to the exit.
Mommy, Daddy, and I all agreed that our favourite exhibit was the underwater viewing tunnel. It is the longest of it’s kind in all of North America and a definite highlight of the aquarium. It consists of a moving sidewalk which transports you through a tunnel where you are surrounded by 5.7 million litres of water. This allows for a truly magical viewing experiences of all the creatures who live in the exhibit and if you want to take a closer look, you can step off the moving sidewalk at any point and get back on when you’re ready to move on.
Another fun thing to check out are the dive shows. People in diving equipment make presentations from within the tanks and you can learn all sorts of interesting facts and see the animals interacting with the divers. These shows are performed every two hours so each visitor is sure to see at least one during their stay.
It’s best to go during off hours as the aquarium can get busy and then you’ll have to wait your turn at the more popular exhibits. Ripley’s is open late and operates all year long so there are many opportunities to go when other people are less likely to be there. It’s also a good idea to order your tickets online since it’s hard to wait in line when you’re excited to get going. Time you’re not waiting in line can be time you’re exploring.
The Ripley’s Aquarium is incredible and I would recommend it to everyone, but especially to eager explorers and to families with curious toddlers. If you find yourself near the downtown Toronto area you really need to make time to check out this place. Otherwise you should find the nearest aquarium to wherever you call home and have an underwater adventure of your own.