Monday, August 15, 2011

Totally Texas -- Under the sea in Dallas' West End

Dallas World Aquarium

1801 N. Griffin St.

Sometimes we just need places where we can hide for hours from the heat. For my family, one of those is the Dallas World Aquarium. It’s not the cheapest excursion on our list, but it's worth the splurge. My daughter can count on her five-year-old twin boys getting their daily dose of exercise as they wind through the repurposed warehouses near Dallas’ West End. Add a ride on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system that drops us within a couple of blocks, and it’s an all-day event, with the trains and big exotic animals the kids love.

The boys’ current favorite animals are the Antillean manatees. The aquatic mammals, reaching ten feet in length in their native Caribbean habitat, are first visible swimming in the open pool of Orinoco rainforest exhibit. Then the boys rush to the aquarium-level viewing windows where they can get a closer, underwater view of the manatees pirouetting with surprising grace.

The Dallas World Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums cooperates with a number of conservation organizations including a project in Peru to protect endangered Acobian manatees.

But there’s more to see than manatees. On our last visit, people crowded the forty-foot long shark tunnel. Visitors inside the transparent tunnel can watch sharks and rays gliding alongside and overhead. Was it a sight of the cool fish or just a chance to sit on the benches lining the tunnel that drew them? For those who can’t get enough of sharks, there’s a daily feeding at 4:30 p.m. on the upper and lower level Mundo Maya exhibit, whose simulated cenote opens onto the shark pool.

The Dallas World Aquarium is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily through August 31 and from 10 until 5 beginning September 1. You’ll need to add tax to the admission prices of $20.95 for adults and $12.95 for children between ages 3 and 12. The aquarium houses three restaurants. And of course my family must make an excursion through the gift shop.

For more information about exhibits, see For information on the manatee conservation project, visit


Note to readers of Wednesday’s Wordcraft -- She Writes’ site for its new novelists contest states entries must be received by midnight Pacific Standard Time August 16. Call me confused -- it sounded like 2400 hours August 16, but I got an email from the site referencing midnight August 15.  Haven't gotten confirmation, but just in case, send the night of August 15.  For information see Entrants must be members of She Writes, but to answer the question Jason asked at our critique group -- yes, you can join even if you’re a guy!

(Next Monday: Totally Texas visits another watery site -- Fountain Place, I.M. Pei’s crystalline building set in an oasis of fountains and trees.)

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