For the first time since I have lived in the Denver area, I visited the downtown Denver Aquarium with my family and work colleagues. This is a place that if you plan to go more than twice in a year, I highly recommend a membership. The regular price for kids over 3 is $9.99 and adults are $15.99! Talk about pricey. On Friday nights, the Aquarium boasts a family fun night. This is basically a reduced admission ($2.00 per ticket for adult tickets discount) and $5.00 for kids 3-7. Kids under 3 are free all the time. But to get this reduced rate, you have to eat at the restaurant which is quite a pricey place. Check out their menu by clicking the restaurant link above. But if you eat there you get free parking ($7 value) and the entire restaurant is surrounded by a fish tank… and divers often go in and do a show for the kids who flock to the tank window. It is fun and keeps the kids entertained which may be worth the $$$. If you are a small group and want to sit in an area completely surrounded by the fish tank, make that request ahead of time. There is a contained area before you enter the main restaurant that is surrounded by the entire fish tank which is quite cool
Reservations are a must if you are planning to eat in the restaurant. And if you are a member, you can get a 10% discount on just the adult entrees on Friday nights. There is no discount on drinks. Here’s another important point to remember. Happy Hour is 3-7pm but you cannot order Happy Hour items in the restaurant or vice versa. The Happy Hour area is in the Dive Bar which has only a small tank visible and the tables/sitting area are smaller than the main restaurant area. The Happy Hour menu looks the cheapest so get there early to snag a table if you want your kids sitting near the fish. The bar area is not for large parties and the space is quite limited. The drink specials are quite good at the Aquarium but if you plan to only do happy hour, do not park in the $7 lot because parking is not validated. Note: The entertainment book for Denver has buy one get one free admission and also has a $5 off $20 purchase so use that on your next visit. If you want to do Family Fun Night but not going into the main exhibit, you can exit from the doors of the restaurant near the kitchen and enter this play area which is free! It is like a mall play area where the kids can run around without socks and shoes on and climb on fishes, octopuses, etc… it’s fun and gets the kids exhausted. Use the Purell hand gel on the wall though.
The Aquarium is one of those attractions in Denver that is quite pricey and they sure do nickel and dime you no matter how many people you bring along so, if you are going to be a frequent visitor, it may be worth getting a membership. Military discounts at the aquarium compared to other museums and attractions in the Denver metro are quite pathetic. For example, you get $2.50 off adult admission and $2.00 off kids’ admission. Whereas, at the Denver Nature and Science Museum, military members and their families are completely free! At the Children’s Museum, it is almost a 50% discount for military and their kids. So, I am not sure how much your kids are “into” the fish and how often you plan to go but like I said, if you plan to go as a family more than twice a year then a membership may be for you. The best part that little kids love about the aquarium (based on my kids’ experience) is the petting of the sting ray, seeing the fish in the tanks (which can be done from the bar and restaurant) and the Sponge Bob 4D adventure can be fun if your kid does not get motion sick. There is face painting and other fun stuff once you get into the exhibit so enjoy…. Go Fish!