We are in the midst of celebrating our beloved Coastal Bend! We might be under a stay-at-home order right now, but we are all dreaming and planning of the days that we can get back out and explore! Be sure to follow along this week (and next!) as the CCMB team shares some of our favorite things in the Coastal Bend – will your fave make the list?
My son has been going there since he was a baby. I have watched him stare from his stroller in fascination at fish. I have watched him as a toddler learn to navigate stairs while in the Dolphin Room. I have watched him as a young boy having the time of his life in the splash area with his granddad.
The Texas State Aquarium exhibits feature marine life and plants from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The aquarium is also a rescue and rehabilitation facility for injured shorebirds and marine mammals. Some of the animals can’t be returned to the wild, so they stay at the aquarium or are sent to another long-term location.
Exhibits are spread across the grounds, so even on busy days, it doesn’t usually feel too crowded. Exhibits include Dolphin Bay, H-E-B Caribbean Sea, Jungle, Coral Reef, Blue Hole, Tortuga Cay, Otter Creek, Eagle Pass, Flower Gardens and more. You can see sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, tropical fish, giant grouper, seahorses, a giant squid and more. Touch tanks allow you to feel crabs, urchins, sharks, and stingrays, which is so cool.
There is also a giant sand play area with dinosaur “bones” and a large splash pad area to cool down from the Texas heat.
Since I have visited the aquarium so many times, I can point lost newbies in the right direction. I also know when the cafe won’t be too busy.
My favorite spot is the Dolphin Room. The cool and darkroom feature a huge window where you can watch dolphins swim by. At the right time of the day, it’s quiet and peaceful.
My second favorite spot is the H-E-B Caribbean Sea. A 68 foot-long acrylic window, which is the longest in North America, lets you observe sharks and other animals up close. There is even a walk through an area where sharks swim above you. If you come at the right time, you can see scuba divers cleaning the tanks while sharks swim overhead. Again, it’s a dark room, with soft lighting and an awesome view.
I love the ocean. I love that the aquarium brings a small piece of it to the surface for all to see and enjoy. Mostly, I love the memories I have of taking my son there as a baby and small child. For that, the aquarium will always hold a special place in my heart.
With a focus on education, conservation and rehabilitation, the Texas State Aquarium is beautiful, fun and a definite must-do thing in the Coastal Bend!