Pack a weekend bag, load the family into the car and drive north for a few days of family fun in Branson; at least that’s what I did over the holiday break, and it was exactly what we needed. A trip doesn’t need to be extravagant and in some exotic location – it just needs a goal of having a good time, and any time in Branson is good.
On this particular trip, we decided to do something a little different and visit the Aquarium at the Boardwalk. If you’ve been up in the area lately, you’ve more than likely seen the aquarium, as it’s hard to miss with the giant silver octopus sitting atop the building. This new addition to Branson Tourism is hands down one of my new favorite stops.
The silver octopus, in all its ginormous glory, is only a sneak peek into the wonders that await inside. There are so many rooms full of breathtaking aquatic species of plants and animals that you really start to wonder why Ariel ever wanted to leave the ocean.
From the Jelly Infinity Room full of bioluminescent moon jelly to the Coral Reef bursting with colorful fish and coral, the natural beauty of the planet is thriving right before your eyes.
As Dory says, “just keep swimming” and you’ll journey through The Waters Tunnel where the sea seemingly surrounds you as you walk through a tunnel in the heart of the aquarium and into an ancient city. Sharks swim right past your head and vibrant fish play on either side of you.
I mentioned my confusion about Ariel’s choices earlier, and after visiting the Mermaid Palace the confusion only grows. The Mermaid Palace shows mermaids guarding the ocean’s coral reefs within their underwater fortress. Schools of sardines and tiny seahorses swim and dance as happy subjects of the merpeople in their own unique habitats. On either side of the palace are photo ops for those of us wishing we lived under the sea.
A favorite sight of mine was the stingrays gliding through the water all around The Grand Aquarium. These winged creatures could be compared to the birds of the ocean because of how they soar. If you’re interested in getting up close and personal with these beauties, head to the touch pools where rays, sharks and crabs swim and scurry below your fingertips. That’s right, you can gently touch and feel the different textures of the sea critters, and don’t forget to “ooh” and “ahh” at the starfish and anemones in the bubbling tide pool.
The Ocean Kaleidoscope is the place to be to feel entirely connected to life underwater. The sound of waves and music will surround your senses while angelfish, butterflyfish, damsels and Nemo himself dance around you. Relax, take it in and enjoy the moment.
If you’re bringing along some kiddos, definitely check out the Submarine Adventure guided by Aquarius the Octopus and Finn the Pufferfish. After getting a photo with the Giant Pacific Octopus on the Boardwalk, visit a real octopus and take a 5D submarine ride to the bottom of the ocean and explore the 10 zones of fish on the way back to the surface. If the little ones still have an endless battery pack running, let them climb around in the Kelp Forest.
The Coral Restoration Foundation is an important cause for the aquarium. Coral reefs around the planet are constantly in danger of disappearing, and the Coral Restoration Foundation works to protect the many species of plant and sea life living in coral reefs. Learn more about the cause here.
The whole family had an amazing time learning more about ocean life and its exquisite creatures. Any opportunity to make memories with my loved ones is a blessing, and the aquarium provided the perfect place to laugh, smile and get excited about sharing moments together.
Plan your trip to Branson and reserve your tickets for the Aquarium at the Boardwalk because spots go fast!
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