jelly fish in a lit circular tank, the lighting is blue

Shark Reef Aquarium with kids. Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

If you’re in Las Vegas on a family holiday then one of my top tips would be to visit the Shark Reef Aquarium with kids. It provides a very welcome relief from the hectic madness of the strip, the endless ding ding dings and the unforgiving heat. Inside the aquarium is calm, quiet and cool. Well worth the entrance fee so far and that’s before you’ve seen any exhibits.

Exhibits at the Shark Reef Aquarium

The Shark Reef Aquarium is home to over 2,000 animals all housed in fairly spacious tanks. Obviously the star residents are the sharks, 100 of them in totals including Galapagos sharks, Sand Tigers, Sandbars, zebra sharks and White Tip Reef Sharks.

You’ll get to walk under the sharks through a small glass tunnel, it’s amazing to look up and watch them glide overhead.

The aquarium at Mandalay Bay is also home to several rare and endangered species including jellyfish, piranha, green sea turtles, and golden crocodiles.

They even have a Komodo dragon area, I don’t know why but I find these creatures absolutely fascinating.

And how cute is this fat puffer fish!

puffer fish at shark reef aquarium

Interactive exhibits at the aquarium

Pipers favourite part of the visit was getting up close to stingrays at the touch tank. She loved running her fingers over these magnificent creatures and spent ages chatting to the knowledgable helper, asking questions and adding to her knowledge base.

You’ll find various interactive touch screens around the aquarium.

History of the aquarium at Mandalay Bay

The Shark Reef was first opened in 2000 after a huge $40 million investment.

Where to Eat near the Shark Reef Aquarium

There is a pretty decent food hall just outside of the aquarium where you can pick up family friendly food such as burger, hotdogs and fries. For a more substantial meal then I’d head further into the Mandalay Bay hotel where you’ll find a wealth of restaurants. I’d opt for lunch at the House of Blues restaurant, it’s a super fun experience with a specific kids menu offering mains for $9 for children. The food is delicious and decor is really fun.

How to get to the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay

The Shark Reef Aquarium is located in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, the Southernmost hotel on the strip. To get to Mandalay Bay you could take a cab or uber, walk along the main strip or use the monorail and tram system. You can hop of a free tram at the Excalibur hotel for the last half a mile.

Once you’re in the hotel it’s easy to follow the overhead signs to the Aquarium. Just head towards the convention centre, you can’t go wrong.

Good to know

How long does it take to go through the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay?

Honestly not too long but it really does depend on your level of interest. We spent around an hour at the aquarium which felt like plenty but if your kids are really interested in the underwater world and want to read every fact sheet you could easily spend longer.

Rules on visiting with kids

Any children under 13 must be accompanied by a paid adult.

Face masks are a requirement for everyone visiting the shark reef aquarium. Hand sanitiser is readily available and social distancing is enforced throughout.

How much are Shark Reef tickets?

It’s pretty pricey to be honest but then so are most things in Vegas. Adult tickets are $29 and kids are $24.

Children under five are free.

Shark Reef Aquarium opening hours

The aquarium is open everyday from 10am until 6pm although last admission is 5pm. Aim to get there early for the quietest visit and to avoid queues in the tunnel.

In summary, visiting the Shark reef aquarium at Mandalay Bay should definitely form part of your family holiday to Vegas. It’s nowhere near as big or as exciting as many of the Sealife aquariums we’ve visited. But it’s wonderful to take a break from the normal Vegas activities. I thinks kids will really appreciate having something tailored to them and they’re likely to learn something along the way.

Discover more amazing things to do in Las Vegas in this post.

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