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Spend a rainy day wandering through bright flora and fauna in the Dallas World Aquarium


And with that one simple yell, two sleek Giant River Otters rocketed out from their den, over the log, and into the water, sending splashes up the glass. Beneath the draping tendrils of lush Amazon vines, the Dallas World Aquarium otter keeper answered questions fired at her from the growing crowd. The otters gliding and rolled past the viewing glass as she pitched chunks of fresh fish to the comical pair.

Giant otter at Dallas World Aquarium
One of two Giant River Otters residing in the Dallas World Aquarium

Like with any trip, weather can throw a kink into the best-made plans so having a rainy day backup plan is essential. Especially in the South.

So when thunderclouds loomed overhead on our weekend jaunt to Dallas, we opted for a day spent downtown among the neon-colored poison dart frogs, jewel-toned manakins, and glittering fish of the Dallas World Aquarium.

But it’s more than just an aquarium. It’s a journey spanning from the misty rainforest canopy to the darkest depths of the Amazon River and every ecosystem in between.

Your journey starts at the top.

Golden-collared manakin at Dallas World Aquarium

The Canopy

The trek through Dallas World Aquarium begins in the canopy of the Orinoco Rainforest. Trills and throaty croaks of free-flying toucans, mot-mots, and ibis pierce the constant murmur of the seven-story waterfall. Red-handed tamarin and pale-faced saki monkeys lazily maneuver through the branches high above Monkey Island.

Pale faced saki ad Dallas World Aquarium
A menagerie of birds and primates call Dallas World Aquarium’s Canopy home

Before descending closer to the rainforest floor, saunter into Sloth Forest, a resounding favorite of visitors of all ages and creeds.

Here, just high enough to be safely out of reach but close enough to inspire wonder, Leno, the brown-throated three-toed sloth, casually watches the ebb and flow of the aquarium’s guests passing beneath his perches.

The Understory

Leaving the upper canopy, venture into the Understory, home to DWA’s ever-playful Giant River Otters. This mother and daughter pair remains a testament to the ongoing conservation efforts dedicated to bringing this species back from the brink of extinction.

Giant otter at Dallas World Aquarium
Dallas World Aquarium continues to champion conservation, especially the beloved Giant River Otter

Continuing through the Understory, speckled poison dart frogs, massive green anacondas, and obscure vampire bats line the trail leading to the river. Before diving beneath the surface, glimpse the brooding Orinoco crocodile lounging in the shallow waters.

Green anaconda at Dallas World Aquarium
The anaconda is another of Dallas World Aquarium’s crowd favorites

Aquatic Level

Slide below the water’s surface and marvel as an Antillean manatee leisurely freestyles around the lagoon and along the panoramic viewing glass. (Want to watch a live feed of DWA’s Manatee Cam? Click here!)

Next, follow the path to the many exhibits of brilliant tropical fish from Palau to New Guinea, Indonesia to Southern Australia.

Antillean manatee at Dallas World Aquarium

Mundo Maya

Descend yet another level and enter the mysterious Mundo Maya. For a fish-eye view of the sacred cenotes, enter the shark tunnel where brown sharks, sawfish, and black nose sharks stalk the waters around and above you. (Wonder what that’s like? Click here for a look into their Shark Cam!)

Leaving the dark, foreboding cenotes, ascend into a brilliant world of color in Dallas World Aquarium’s last exhibit.

Shark tunnel at Dallas World Aquarium
Who doesn’t love a good shark tunnel?!?

A flamboyance of flamingos – yes, that’s the correct term! Fabulous, right? – brighten the trail leading to the Jaguar Temple. Come face to face with the fabled jungle cat revered in much of ancient Mayan lore.

Turn around and search the heights for a pair of Harpy Eagles, whose five-inch talons rival those of a grizzly bear. And amid these impressive predators soar a myriad of brilliantly colored birds ranging from the glittering violet-crowned hummingbirds to stately scarlet macaws.

Jaguar at Dallas World Aquarium
Mundo Maya’s majestic jaguar

Lastly, admire a waddle of blue penguins (I know! It just keeps getting better) from the gift shop before exiting. After hours of admiring every color of the rainbow from every corner of the world, it may be difficult to face the gray skies lingering outside.

Blue penguins at Dallas World Aquarium

But no worries! There are plenty more ways to brighten your rainy day in Dallas while visiting downtown. Here are just a few:

Dallas World Aquarium Hours and Admission:

  • Opened seven days a week (except Thanksgiving and Christmas)from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Admission is $20.95 for adults and $14.95 for child two years of age up to 12.
  • Two and under get in free. Senior Citizen admission is $16.95 Military Admission is $18.95


For driving directions please click here

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Jessica Pickett

Gypsy mom, storyteller, and daydreamer extraordinaire, you can usually find me researching our next adventure. An explorer, lover of craft beers, and anything outside I'm at my happiest getting lost in a new city or hitting the trails with my family in tow.

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