FOLLOW ALONG AS WE EXPLORE THE SHREVEPORT AQUARIUM AND SCI-PORT DISCOVERY CENTER
by NATALIE HAYWOOD | photos by ANITA PEEK
Looking for something fun to do that’s nearby? Look no further than the Shreveport Aquarium. A short haul down I-49 from Texarkana will bring you to a place of water and wonder. Located by the Red River, the aquarium is home to 300 different species and over 3,000 different animals.
We didn’t know what to expect when planning a visit to the aquarium, but I was pleasantly surprised by a number of things. Their website was up-to-date and provided plenty of information for visitors. According to the aquarium’s website, they “strongly advise” purchasing tickets in advance. The process of purchasing online was easy and straightforward. We arrived for the 10 a.m. time slot so parking was still available next to the aquarium, even with an event going on nearby. Do be aware, the front entrance leaves something to be desired. We weren’t sure if they were open due to the appearance. No worries, there are friendly employees inside to greet you.
The first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful colors. It’s dark on the inside of the exhibit, but it is dimly lit by shades of blue and purple. The WOW Gallery greets you with colorful coral and exotic fish. The kids had a great time spotting “Dori” and “Nemo.” It is a self-guided tour, but the hallways are easy to navigate as you explore. There is also plenty of room for strollers or wheelchairs.
Once you’ve meandered the first set of hallways, you’ll arrive at the “Dome on the Bayou.” Unlike the sea creatures, we recognized some of this scenery and the fish. There is a large tank with catfish, gar, and a few alligator snapping turtles. The bayou was neat but we didn’t spend much time there, too much else to “sea!” (I’m getting really good at these ocean puns!)
Next on the list was the Shore Explore exhibit. Me and Elynn, my 8-year-old niece, loved touching snails, starfish, and more from the Oregon Coast. Much to my surprise, starfish are actually hard on the outside! Am I the only person who thought they were squishy? After the touch exhibit, we made our way to Submarine Gallery. In this exhibit you can see jellyfish, sea horses, and large crab.
After the Submarine Gallery was my favorite part, the Ocean Tunnel. There was so much to see in the tunnel, and the kids loved it, too! Along the tunnel are a few pop-up bubbles that allow you to crawl inside and take in the view from the ocean floor. How neat!
Once you’ve spent some time in the tunnel, you’ll find yourself in another favorite spot, Contact Cove. Here you can pet stingrays as they swim through the water. And on certain days they even allow you to feed the rays.
That brings us to the end of our time at the Shreveport Aquarium, but the fun didn’t stop there! In walking distance is the Sci-Port Discovery Center, so we decided to make a quick trip down the street to check it out. The rumors are true, the center’s exhibits are primarily closed but they do offer the Power of Play (POP) Children’s Museum. We were a little weary at first, but the exhibit turned out to be a winner. The kids loved playing in the miniature town. They could pretend grocery shop, learn how to build a house, or explore waterways in the wet exhibit. There was even plenty to do for Charlie, my 1-year-old son.
All together, our exploring took a little over two hours. Doesn’t sound like much, but we were worn out by the end of the morning, which was evident by the naps taken on the way home.
A few takeaways:
Don’t expect the aquarium to be like something you see in Monterey, California, but I think you’ll be surprised like I was.
I wish there would have been a guide booklet for the aquarium. Maybe I’ll drop that suggestion in the comment box next time I’m there.
Bring a camera! You can’t use flash in the aquarium, but you’ll want to do your best to capture your child’s face as they explore the wonders of the sea.