Sunday, May 6, 2012

Our Grandsons and the Cleveland Aquarium…

When we visit our family in Ohio…the Cleveland area…one of our favorite things to do is to do something special with our Grandsons!  We learned that there was a new attraction in Cleveland…The Greater Cleveland Aquarium…and, the best news of all is that both David III and Emmett Lee chose the Aquarium instead of a movie!

Here are Emmett Lee, (almost never with a straight face or simple pose), and David III in front of a model of giant prehistoric shark jaws. 

Note the beautiful old walls behind the boys.  The Greater Cleveland Aquarium was built in the 120+ year old repurposed First Energy Powerhouse.  It’s part of the Nautica Entertainment Complex that has been developed on the west bank of the “Flats’ in Cleveland.  For more on the powerhouse as well as the overall entertainment complex, you can go to

The Aquarium occupies roughly 70,000 square feet of space with 35 exhibit tanks and 10 exhibition areas.  There are about 1,000,000 gallons of water in the exhibits.  While this isn’t a big aquarium…as compared to the Shedd in Chicago, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga or Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies…it offers a couple of advantages from a kid’s point of view.  Number 1…It’s not overwhelming.  Number 2…The exhibits such as the one shown above, are the right size and at the right sight level for kid viewing!

We thought that this turtle was posing for a fashion magazine…or at least the cover of “Nature” magazine!

The exhibit areas include Ohio Lakes and Rivers, the Everglades, Key West, Weird and Wonderful, Coastal Waters, a Coral Reef and the tunnel where visitors walk ‘through’ shark infested waters.

Much to our satisfaction, fear of the unknown were overcome when Emmett Lee got up close and personal with this snake held by one of the Aquarium’s staff members.  In another interactive aquarium exhibit, he also touched a starfish and a Hermit Crab in his shell…  

For those who might wonder, there were plenty of hand-sanitizer stations near any of the hands on exhibits…

For some distance, visitors to the aquarium follow an old coal tunnel.  Lining the sides of the tunnel, there are large “portholes” or windows where you can view exotic fish and sea life.  In one passageway, there is this ceiling mounted exhibit tank full of Spiny Lobsters…

Of course, the kids loved looking among the rocks and in the crevices in the many tanks for Moray Eels and other spiny or weird sea creatures.

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium project cost roughly $33,000,000.  It is expected to attract 400,000 to 500,000 visitors per year to downtown Cleveland, generate a local economic impact ranging from $10,000,000 to $27,000,000…and to create 50 full and part-time jobs with a payroll of $1,600,000.

As you’ve already noted, reptiles were well represented in the Aquarium.  Here are a couple of baby Alligators. 

For the most part, the exhibits don’t include some of the giant fish of the sea that other aquariums do… No whales or porpoises inhabit the tanks.  There are plenty of freshwater fish…trout, catfish, sunfish, piranha, etc. as well as many, many smaller saltwater tropical fish and other sea critters. 

This exhibit was fun for Emmett Lee, David III...and for me.  Nana, aka Laurie, as usual was our photographer.  This tank contained rays and nurse sharks and visitors are allowed to reach down and touch the animals as they swam by… The boys reported that the ray’s skin was super soft…and a couple of them actually swam up to the outstretched hands…as if they wanted to be stroked. Note: Papa aka, Big Daddy Dave, does admit that his coat sleeve got wet at this exhibit.

Here’s one of the stingrays like the ones that we were able to touch. 

One big negative during our visit was the fact that the 145’ walk through sea tube was spoiled by badly clouded water.  You could only see shadows and blurry images of the sharks and other big fish swimming beside you and over your head.  The Aquarium did discount everyone’s entry tickets…but since this was supposed to be the big attraction, it was still dissapointing.  Kids didn’t mind as much as the adults did though…the sharks swimming by in the murky water added a little sense of adventure for the young minds!
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is located at 2000 Sycamore Street in Cleveland.  It is open 7 days a week from 10 AM to 6 PM.  Admission is $21.95 for Adults and $15.95 for kids between the age of 2 and 12.  Despite the pricing…which seemed a little high to us…you would have never known the the economy is struggling.  The place was packed and this was a weekday! 
The phone number for the Aquarium is 216-862-8803.  The website is  To view a video about the Greater Cleveland Aquarium which provides a preview of many of the exhibits, just go to
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing some time with us and our grandsons!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I can't believe Emmett touched a snake!

  2. Your right, I've never actually had a good smile.

    I looked HORRABLE in the picture next to the great white teeth.

    1. Milo, Actually, you have a great smile when we're not taking pictures! We just rarely capture it in a photo... Love, Papa/Big Daddy Dave