While LEGO lovers sing “Everything is Awesome!,” it’s time for lovers of all things aquatic to shout “Everything is JAW-SOME!” because SEA LIFE San Antonio Aquarium is making a splash in San Antonio. The long-awaited neighbor to LEGOLAND® Discovery Center San Antonio opened just in time for summer fun.
With more than 250 species including sharks, sting rays, jellyfish, sea stars, and schools and schools of others, SEA LIFE is a chance to get up close and personal with new fishy friends. And thanks to some really cool aquarium features, I mean that literally. Throughout SEA LIFE, you’ll spot aquariums that bubble out, bringing the fish nose to nose with you. We were shocked with the display that made it seem that a puffer fish was floating in midair, just waiting to greet us. It was an optical illusion—he was safely in his tank—but the thrill is undeniable.
That puffer seemed thrilled, too. At times as we explored, it felt like the fish were just as happy to see us as we were to see them. The buffalo fish that greet you in the freshwater area will stop and stare at you, moving as you move. In the stingray bay area, an epaulette shark was quick to say hi, moving to keep his eye on you.
SEA LIFE San Antonio Aquarium includes 10 interactive exhibit areas. Roam through coral reefs, fresh water displays, a sea harbor, and a seahorse nursery before you ooh and awe at the center of SEA LIFE fun: San Antonio’s only underground ocean tunnel.
That’s right: as SEA LIFE likes to say, you can go “face to fin” as sharks, sting rays, and colorful fish dart by—and over and around—you. Say hello to Solomon, the 8-foot zebra shark gliding by under the watchful eyes of Blackbeard the pirate. You can’t miss Blackbeard, whose 15-foot head is the focal point of the aquarium. He’s a great spot for a selfie, even though he never smiles.
The tunnel is actually two tunnels, and no matter where you stand fish are all around you. It’s a sure hit for littles, too, as there are viewing windows down at their level as well. And since the tank is actually two stories, you can go upstairs to look over the action. The upstairs view is almost like shark TV—they swim right by the windows.
SEA LIFE is definitely designed with littles in mind as you’ll find interactive screens with fun and educational games, including some touch screens that allow you to play with sea stars, or starfish, as most of us know them.
But for true hands-on fun, the Rockpool touch pool is a must. The colorful tank is filled with anemones, sea stars, and urchins ready to say hello. (You can’t help but think of the touch pool scene in Finding Dory, where all of the creatures are hiding from the poking fingers.) If you want to watch the action up close, there’s a video screen, too, so you can see the action and not get wet. And most important for moms to know: there are hand sanitizer and hand washing stations for those just-touched-creature hands.
To help you dive into all there is to “SEA” at SEA LIFE, here are some quick things to know:
- SEA LIFE isn’t just a neighbor to LEGOLAND, the two share an entrance and there are combination tickets and annual passes available. For more scoop, here’s our guide to LEGOLAND Discovery Center.
- SEA LIFE does have safety protocols and limited capacity to ensure social distancing, so buying tickets in advance will guarantee your spot.
- Like LEGOLAND Discovery Center, SEA LIFE San Antonio Aquarium is part of the Shops at River Center, making it a great spot to enjoy as part of any River Walk visit. And you get two hours of parking at the River Center’s Crockett Street garage for $3 (be sure to get your parking ticket validated at the SEA LIFE/LEGOLAND ticket desk). And note: the validation is only good for the Crockett Street garage, which is the one you enter from behind River Center.
- Before you explore SEA LIFE, be sure your crew has hit the potty. There are no bathrooms in the aquarium, but there are bathrooms located just before the elevator that takes you into all of the fishy fun, so be sure to make a pit stop.
- Unlike the Discovery Center where you’ll find a cafe, food and drinks are not allowed in the aquarium.
- There is a submarine-themed play zone at the end of your SEA LIFE voyage, so be ready for play requests. We always have socks for the Discovery Center play area (required), so we have them handy for SEA LIFE too.
- Strollers are welcome, and thanks to elevators, no need to worry about climbing stairs.
LEGOS with a side of fishy friends?!? We’re definitely looking forward to some cool, underwater fun this summer and hope to SEA you there!