August 19, 2015

Family Fun at Mystic Aquarium

As part of our recent escape from daily life, we planned a trip to Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn., to get in some much-needed quality family time. M2 love animals of any kind so we knew she'd love it. It was her and Baby B's first time at an aquarium. My mom came along for the full multi-generational family experience.

We went on a Tuesday and were surprised how many people were there. Mystic Aquarium is a popular place to be with all the nifty activities available. The aquarium is set up pretty cool. You enter through an outdoor circular entrance area that branches off via different paths to the indoor building, 3D movie theater and sea lion theater and the outdoor exhibits. It's like a little village, complete with wooden walkways and a cute restaurant. The set up makes you feel like you're more a part of the aquarium and interacting with it.

The outdoor area is really neat with a walking path that takes you around lakes with frogs, the penguin section, the sea lions and the beluga wales. Unfortunately for us, the day we visited there was a pretty consistent downpour. We didn't get to enjoy the outside parts as much as we would have in nice weather. Even with the rain, it was fun to see all the arctic animals. None of us had ever seen beluga wales before. We spent a good amount of time watching them swim around and send off spouts of water into the air. The penguins were enjoying some fish when we stopped so M2 got to watch them being fed.

Inside, there are so many hands-on exhibits to engage the kids (and adults). Three touch tanks with rays, sharks, shelled critters drew my attention. I am much too chicken to actually touch them (I'd jump and scare the poor things!) and M2 has a bad habit of splashing water all over so we watched others enjoying the tanks.An area to dig up "bones" in a "sandpit" was an area M2 loved. There was even a Jeep, polar bear and dog sled to pose with for pictures. There was a lot more, too, I can't even remember it all! The aquarium really draws in and helps the kids to learn, engaging them rather than just showing. We had to check out the cute sea lion show which lets you see the cute critters in action.

My favorites were the jellyfish -- some even lit up!! -- and the angel fish. Angel fish have always been my favorite since I was a little kid. Another highlight for me was the Titanic exhibit. I've been obsessed with the Titanic since my first trip to the library when I was seven (long before the movie). It was so neat to see the displays. One showing shoes was especially touching as it explained that there are no bodies at the site of the wreck. The bodies would have disappeared within 5 years due to the ocean environment, leaving nothing behind but the shoes the people wore as they fell. M2 loved the ray and shark tanks. A came right up to the glass to greet her. She was thrilled to make a new sea friend. Even Baby B stared at all the tanks, enthralled.

We all had a great time exploring the aquarium and could even have spent more time there than we did, especially if it'd been a nice day. If we have the chance to, I would totally go again! If you're up in Connecticut, be sure to stop by Mystic Aquarium to check it out for yourself.

This post is sponsored by Mystic Aquarium.

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