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Are you looking for a fun family experience in Utah where your children can interact with animals and sea life all while learning about the earth? Utah aquariums are an excellent way to spend the day together and create a memory all of you will cherish! So here’s an information guide on the best of the best aquariums in Utah: SeaQuest Layton and Loveland Living Planet. Each has a different approach to animal interaction, education, and conservation and although both have many things in common, SeaQuest Layton offers animal encounters that take your “Voyage to the Sea” above and beyond!
Welcome to the ultimate land and sea adventure when you visit SeaQuest Layton! One of the most unique Utah aquariums, you’ll “sea” more than just fish and ocean creatures. Located just 20 minutes North of Salt Lake City, SeaQuest Layton features over 1,200 different animals from 300 different species from all over the planet! In this hands-on adventure, visitors get to touch, feel, and feed animals from various habitats around the world.
Journey through the Amazon Rainforest, Caribbean, Mayan Jungle, and Egyptian Desert while interacting with sharks, snakes, turtles, and lizards during your quest. Looking to host a birthday party or private event? Look no further than SeaQuest Layton! They offer a variety of birthday packages where kids can even take a selfie with Marina the Mermaid, or meet the pirate Captain Quest! Seaquest Layton also offers private event space and specializes in small-scale events, including retreats, field trips, and family reunions!
What sets SeaQuest Layton apart from Loveland Living Planet is that they offer a number of amazing encounters and give guests one-on-one time with animals, including birds, reptiles, and mammals. Small groups allow everyone to participate in the fun and have an up close and personal experience with the animals. And these interactions are definitely up close; you touch the animals and directly hand-feed them treats and snacks! You’ll learn about protecting endangered species and the conservation of the planet.
•Sloth Interaction: The best sloth interaction in Utah: Meet Spaghetti! Feed and pet this adorable sloth in this once-in-a-lifetime experience! Be sure to bring your camera for a selfie during your hand-feeding session.
•Asian Otter Interaction: Get to know Chip and Dale! During your time with the otters, you’ll not only get to feed them, but you’ll get an educational overview of the otter species and habitat. There’s a great informational Q&A on how you can help save the otters in the wild!
•Fishy Kisses: Dip your feet into a tank of fish that will gently “kiss” your toes, removing dead skin cells in the process.
•Crested Porcupine Interaction: Have you ever wondered what a porcupine actually feels like? Look no further – Meet Quilliam the porcupine here at SeaQuest, and learn all about his unique species while hand-feeding him his favorite snacks!
•Snorkel With Stingrays: Bring your suit and towel and jump in the water with a variety of rays, tropical fish, and non-threatening sharks for an ultimate up-close animal experience.
When it comes to visitors interacting with the animals, Seaquest Layton is hard to beat. As soon as you enter the aquarium, you’re instantly transported to different parts of the world! It’s an immersive environment surrounded by magical-themed decor. You’ll get an “under the sea” look at marine life, and your family will be able to pet some of the most unique mammal species on earth!
Loveland Living Planet
Discover life underwater at Loveland Living Planet. This aquarium is about 19 miles south of downtown Salt Lake City. Operating as a non-profit discovery and scientific center, they provide learning opportunities at all levels, interests, and ages. The Aquarium offers a wide variety of activities including 4D movie nights (reservations required) and a lively play center for the little tykes. They have a large ballroom available to rent for company events and holiday parties. There’s also a pretty neat-looking 300,000-gallon shark habitat where you can see sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, and colorful reef fish.
Special Highlights in the Aquarium
- Sting Ray Encounter: You can visit stingrays in the Ocean Explorer habitat touch pool for an additional fee! The stingray encounters last about 20 minutes. Guests are invited to feed a variety of stingrays and learn about their unique adaptations and dietary needs. There’s a 10-person limit per encounter. Gloves are also required and provided and must be worn throughout the animal encounter experience. To contrast this encounter with the stingray experience in Layton, not only do you get to dive into the Stingray tank at SeaQuest, but touch pool and feeding stingrays are FREE to all, with no guest limit, and no gloves are required.
- Penguin Encounter: Meeting the Gentoo penguins up close! You’ll participate in fun activities while learning all about Gentoo penguins in an educational setting. Then suit up in Penguin parkas to go behind the scenes to meet our playful penguins. Penguins will waddle into the encounter room from their habitat, and you’ll have the opportunity to feed them fish by hand. Penguin encounters last approximately 50 minutes, and there is a 10-person limit as well. Your admission ticket does not include this encounter, so you’ll need to purchase this activity separately.
- Nature Storytime: A brand new program – strictly for members only! Nature Storytime will include a special storybook reading and activity. This program is for children aged 2-4 years and their parents or guardians. Siblings under age two may attend if they remain in their stroller or carrier for the duration of the program. Any child over the age of 2 without a membership may not attend.
Loveland Living Planet is structured as an aquarium that is more focused on observation-only exhibits. Aside from the penguin and stingray encounters, not many animal interactions are available for families. Keep in mind, although Loveland Living Planet does not charge for parking, the allotted parking lot is a bit of a distance from the main entrance. SeaQuest Layton also has free parking available for your visit, and its parking lot is right in front of its main entrance.
The Best Aquarium in Utah? SeaQuest!
Many visitors find that Seaquest Layton has much more to offer in terms of animal interactions, particularly for kids, and is a little more toddler friendly. Loveland Living Planet is a place for family fun and a cafe for food and snacks. A very visual attraction, the aquarium is more geared to older youths and visitors than toddlers and young children. Because of it’s size, crowds tend to fill the hallways and exhibit space pretty quickly. So for those families with little ones and toddlers, Loveland Living Planet isn’t the ideal family getaway in Salt Lake.
SeaQuest Layton ultimately comes out as the most cost-effective as well. Loveland Living Planet admission ranges between adult pricing at $16.95 – $28.95 and children (ages 3-12) at $11.95 – $21.95. Seaquest Layton admission prices range between $13.99 and $19.99 per person, and children two and under are free. Loveland Living Planet charges additional ticket pricing per person for attractions and encounters. Guests of SeaQuest can feed a variety of animals at the Layton aquarium location, and feeding tokens can be purchased for around $2 per token with a 15-token minimum. SeaQuest Layton has many online booking options and deals available, or simply walk right into the Guest welcome counter for tickets!
Quest through more than 5 Continents at SeaQuest Layton! For the BEST animal interactions in the state of Utah, check out the SeaQuest website. You can book your special encounter today!