What do smokestacks and lobsters have in common? Why don’t you visit the Greater Cleveland Aquarium to find out! My family was invited to a blogger event kicking off the opening of the aquarium, and immediately I said “yes,” because my kids love aquariums (heck, we even visit the Aquarium Adventure store quite frequently just to look at the fish). We had breakfast, the aquarium staff shared details of the aquatic life housed there, the history of the building, and we even had a visit from a baby alligator. Once the informational session was finished up we were excited to check out the various exhibits.
What made this aquarium so unique was that it was built inside an old powerhouse building. Right along the water and tucked in with all of the other industrial buildings that once flourished, we found sharks, alligators, lionfish, and stingrays. The interior design of the building offered a viewing aesthetic that I appreciated. Tanks were placed in the walls, free standing in the middle of the room, and even surrounding patrons like a tunnel. Seeing fish indigenous to lakes, rivers, streams, oceans, and other tropical and fresh waters living inside this grand old building was very cool, and the lobsters I mentioned? They were in tanks in the smokestacks – yeah, hanging out above your head! My kids loved it and kind of hoped they could swim around in the smokestack.
One of the highlights was a touch tank with sharks and stingrays. If you aren’t familiar with stingrays in a touch tank, you’ll get experienced quickly. Rays are quite friendly, and I think it is because they are always hungry or very inquisitive. They come right up to the side of the tank almost as if they are going to jump into your arms. Don’t let this scare you – they can’t jump out. So, just give them a little pet…or not. Another highlight was seeing the divers cleaning the tank WITH the sharks! How much do these people get paid?! I saw Jaws!
Our tour didn’t take us too long, about two hours. They have a cafe with decent food choices and a plethora of events planned that could make your stay longer (such as, in June they had a package deal for learning how to fly fish on Father’s Day!). They also do birthday parties – how fun would that be?!
If I was heading up for a day trip, I’d consider tacking on a visit to the Great Lakes Science Center or the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. There is also Lolly the Trolley that has a stop right outside the aquarium offering unique site tours of Cleveland, or a boat tour aboard the Nautica Queen (and I believe they have package deals with the Cleveland Aquarium!).
Greater Cleveland Aquarium (West end flats area)
2000 Sycamore Street
Plan your aquatic journey:
- Drive is about 2 and 1/2 hours, plan accordingly (DVDs, music, crayons, paper, snacks, etc., etc.).
- The last leg of the drive is through a very industrial part of the city, don’t let this scare you, but do be prepared for construction.
- Plan your visit, especially if you tack on something else. Look at hours, rates, and see if there are any package deals like the aquarium does with the boat tour.
- Admission is rather pricey at $21.95/adult and $15.95 children 2-12 – look out for coupons and deals to help cut this cost (I’d just do a google search or call the aquarium to see if they offer deals on specific days) or think about getting a yearly pass if you plan to go more than once.
- Strollers and wagons are permitted Monday – Friday ONLY.
Full disclosure: my family was provided with a free night’s stay at the Marriott Airport hotel, breakfast, and admission to tour the Greater Cleveland Aquarium for the blogger event.