The Austin Aquarium is located in a North Austin strip mall in what I believe used to be one of those huge furniture stores and is a very interactive experience for kids. I’d estimate that maybe half of their tanks are ones you can stick your hands in, the best of which is the stingray exhibit. Apparently stingrays are very friendly as they surface often and let you pet their slimy skin. You can also feed them if you purchase food at the door.
There is also a bird enclosure that you can enter and hold a bird on your finger (while the rest plot to poop on your head). Other hands-on areas include a hurricane simulator and a playground and, of course, a gift shop.
All in all it is always a memorable outing. What kid can forget touching their first starfish or making friends with a stingray?
The Good: The place is relatively small so the worry about losing track of your kid is minimal. And with the focus on interactive exhibits your little one is likely to be engaged the whole time.
The Not-So-Good: Tickets are $14.95 per adult and $9.95 per child ages 2-11, which seems rather expensive to me. They are less expensive if you buy online.
Overall: Because of the cost, we don’t go as often to the Aquarium as we do to places like the Thinkery but when we do, it is always a fun afternoon
Website: Austin Aquarium