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Cool summer fun at the aquarium in Tempe: SEA LIFE

Afternoons are much cooler when you’re in the aquarium in Tempe. I think any day is a great day to visit SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium at Arizona Mills, but it’s one of my favorite places to visit in the summer.

Once you enter, you’ll first see fish from freshwater streams and lakes. After this refreshing introduction, you’ll be transported to the ocean, first via the touch tanks featuring tide pool creatures. Then, in just a few steps, you’ll get to see everything from sharks to rays to seahorses. SEA LIFE is a magical place. The displays are designed to be low enough to give kids a perfect view. And, there are even places where the little ones can crawl under the displays and look at the fish through a pop-up that make them feel like they’re inside the tank. To feel even more immersed into the underwater world, this aquarium has a 360° ocean tunnel where you can see sharks, rays and Ziva, SEA LIFE’s first rescued sea turtle.

If you’ve been to SEA LIFE 100 times or you’d like to go for the first time, here are a few tips to help you plan your visit.

  • Buy your tickets online and save 20%, or buy a season pass for just $45 annually.
  • Every day, you can watch as creatures are being fed, or hear more about these amazing ocean dwellers during a special educational talk. For example, at 10:30 a.m. daily, you can experience the “Tide Pool Brunch,” the feeding time for the creatures in the rock pool touch tank. On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 2 p.m., visitors can see the aquarists feed the sharks in the Ocean View tank. And, daily at 3:30 p.m., you can hear “OutRAYgeous Rays,” a presentation about the creatures that call the Tropical Bay of Rays home. Visit the SEA LIFE website for a complete list of feedings and presentations.
  • If you have kids with you, be on the lookout for the quiz trail through this aquarium in Tempe. There are questions, fun facts and activities posted throughout SEA LIFE. You’ll also find signs that talk about SEA LIFE’s conservation efforts.
  • On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, visitors can take a behind the scenes tour to find out even more about SEA LIFE’s residents and how they are cared for. The tours take place every hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the cost is just $5 for adults and $4 for children, in addition to the regular admission price.
  • Through December 2014, guests can see the special exhibit, Turtle Shelter. Turtle Shelter is designed to look like a treetop cabana, with multiple displays of freshwater turtles. Featured stars of this exhibit include the pig-nosed turtle (my personal favorite), the ancient snapping turtle and snake-necked turtle. Check out SEA LIFE’s video for a preview of what you’ll see.

After your visit, you can stay cool inside Arizona Mills and grab lunch or dinner at one of their many restaurants, from Rainforest Café to Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant to one of the delicious options in their newly renovated food court. And, of course, you might want to save some time for shopping too. There are 185 stores to choose from, include H & M, Nike Factory Store and Disney Store Outlet.

Find out about more cool activities on the Tempe Tourism Summer webpage:

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