With over 166 aquatic display habitats showcasing the extraordinary variety of sea life in the Pacific Northwest, the Vancouver Aquarium is definitely worth a visit, whether you're retired or have kids still in cloth diapers. Located in Vancouver, British Columbia's famous Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium is not just a tourist attraction, but also a non-profit foundation dedicated to marine research, conservation, and wildlife rehabilitation.
Some of the Vancouver Aquarium's more well-known residents include Pacific White-Sided dolphins Spinnaker and Laverne, Beluga whales Imaq and Quila, and the eight enormous Stellar sea lions from the University of British Columbia's study of the animal. The Aquarium also features an indoor tropical rainforest habitat complete with tortoises, crocodiles, and piranhas.
The Aquarium hosts a number of programs, camps and sleepovers for children and adults designed to promote interest in marine biology and conservation. Participants in the facility's Animal Encounter program can also interact with the dolphins, splash around with a Beluga whale, get up close and personal with a giant sea turtle, try their hand at training a sea lion, or make friends with a sea otter.
The Aquarium also offers daily shows that are free with admission including: the Beluga training session, dolphin show, and sea otter talk.
Clownfish Cove is a fun kid-oriented area within the Aquarium, featuring sea-life arts and crafts, conservation-based learning games, and aquariums shaped like play structures and crawl-though tunnels that have real fish and ocean plants living inside them. Kids can even join the animal care staff in the seal rehabilitation hospital and help nurse a seal back to health.
The aquarium stays open during the winter but with reduced hours. The best times to visit are before 11am and after 3pm on weekdays due to the large numbers of schoolchildren visiting the aquarium during the day for field trips and its popularity during the weekends.