I’ve been going to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park since I was a little kid. Between it and Science World, they were my favorite places to visit in the ‘big city’ of Vancouver.
So now of course I’ve started taking my kids there, and they absolutely love it – especially my little animal lover Brynn.
We went last weekend, and honestly it was a lot less busy than I thought it would be. I am thinking it is because we arrived later in the afternoon (3pm) because it got quieter and quieter as the day progressed. I would highly recommend going later like we did, especially during the school year to avoid the field trip crowd, and that way you can avoid buying lunch while you are there.
My kids absolutely love the Tropic Zone gallery, for them it is always super exciting to see all the colorful fish that they know so well from Finding Nemo as well as the sea-horses, turtles, stingrays, and other creatures we saw on our recent snorkeling adventure in Maui. We also got to listen to a great talk on the turtles and how it is important to keep the oceans clean.
The Amazon Gallery within the Tropic Zone is also a favorite for my bird-obsessed girl. I was a little disappointed that the resident sloth was sleeping up away where we couldn’t see her, but my kids were thrilled with the little monkeys, frogs, colorful birds & bats.
The Treasures Of The B.C. Coast is not super exciting for the kids after seeing the colorful Tropic Zone, so I would recommend going through there first! But, we do love the resident octopus, and it was great that they had a employee beside the tank to talk about him one-on-one with the visitors & had some items for kids to take a closer look at while he was in hiding.
Also, these little bubbles where the kids can be ‘inside’ the tanks to get a close up look were super fun:
No trip to the Vancouver Aquarium is complete without a visit outside to visit with all the resident Sea Otters, Dolphins, Penguins and Sea Lions. If you’re coming in the fall, make sure to pack an umbrella because there isn’t much cover!
One of the highlights of our visit was watching the Dolphin show. We avoided the crowds and the hot sun by walking all the way around the enclosure to the other side where the trainers stand – it was a great way to see them up close!
Make sure you make your way downstairs to see the dolphins from below. This is my absolute favorite shot from our trip this time:
We also caught the end of the penguin show, they were being a little bit shy this time, but here’s a shot from our last trip where they were coming up to say hello!
Also, don’t miss out on the Sea Otters! The are ridiculously cute playing with toys and holding hands, but we didn’t stick around long to watch them because my kids said they were stinky.
If you have any brave little ones, make sure to visit the open tanks outside to feel a starfish or the Discover Rays exhibit where you can actually touch the stingrays! Brynn is very hands on, so she was all over this, Tieran just stood back and made grossed out faces.
Tips for Taking Photos at the Vancouver Aquarium
The Vancouver Aquarium is a very tricky place to take photos – it is dark and most exhibits are back-lit and behind reflective glass. If you want to take photos of the fish, I would highly recommend turning off your flash and putting your camera right up against the glass like I did in the image above of the clown fish or these jellyfish:
If you are wanting to take photos of children or people at the Vancouver Aquarium, I recommend doing so outside by the mammal & penguin areas, before you go in by whale statue, or in the natural light of the Amazon Gallery. Inside it gets tricky because if your flash is on you will get a ‘good’ photo of the people, but it will reflect off the glass and you won’t be able to see what’s in the tank behind them. If you turn it off the kids will be dark and blurry.
I honestly love doing silhouette shots of my kids in front of the tanks (like the next few shots) because it shows them enjoying the exhibits instead of posing in front of them. Again my flash was off for this one: