Family Outings FTW: Ripley’s Aquarium

This weekend past was a whirlwind. A lot happened and it was way fun, especially Saturday. Months ago I was approached by mom asking if I would be interested in a trip to Ripley’s Aquarium. I have never been, so I of course said yes. Turns out my stepdad’s work was organizing a group trip to the aquarium by bus and it was open to employees’ families. It cost the very reasonable price of $20.00. It was very easy to get on board with, as regular admission is about $30.00 for the day. This $20.00 also included transportation by fancy road coach.

The date for the trip was this past Saturday: April 16. In preparation, I decided to rent a car so I wouldn’t be dependent on my mom and stepdad for transportation to and from Ingersoll. Since my sister is now in London as well, having started her new job here, I ended up being chauffeur to her and her boyfriend for the weekend too. I picked up my rental Friday evening after work, and discovered just how tricky my parking sport actually is to get in and out of. A bit of practice would have had me parking like a pro, but I had places to be… like a hair appointment. My hair dresser worked her magic yet again, and then I took the care out to get some more practice driving since it’s been months since I last drove. I went to St. Thomas and visited Jess and we drove around for awhile to get a feel for my car. I then headed home and chilled and packed for the weekend, as I spent the night at my mom and stepdad’s Saturday night.

We woke up bright and early Saturday morning to head to Ingersoll. Luckily, my sister’s boyfriend just came here after he was done work so we were all in one place.  We were on the road by 6:30am and made it to Ingersoll in good time. We were able to pick up some breakfast and coffee at good ol’ Tim Hortons before we arrived at the house. We waited for my stepsister and niece at the house and then we all made out way out to the plant together, where we were meeting the bus. img_3161We arrived with plenty of time to spare and we all boarded the “cool” bus (a.k.a. the London Knights bus). This trip was also cool because it was the first time our whole blended family went on an outing together. My mom, stepdad, both step sisters, my sister, her boyfriend, and my two nieces were all there. The only person missing was my nephew, but he was ill and wasn’t able to come.img_3233

The buses departed shortly after 8:00am and we made our way down the 401 to Toronto, and then into the downtown core where the aquarium is located. It was all very exciting. We were able to skip the lines and head right in thanks to our advance tickets. Right from the very start my youngest niece was mesmerized by all the colourful fish. That was kind of short-lived, because once she turned around and realized there was more to see, she forgot all about the tiny aquarium in the entrance. It was the cutest thing!

We went through the first half of the aquarium and saw some pretty cool stuff. There were eels, and lobsters, and octopi…among many many others. img_3176The highlight for my oldest niece was the “Dory fish”, actually a royal blue tang or surgeonfish; the name of which was one of img_3213the many things I learned that day. The highlight of the first half of the aquarium for me were the sharks and the sea turtles. They had many species of sharks and it was very cool to see several species that I recognized. I managed a great “shark selfie” and took a beautiful photo of one of the turtles. img_3217It was easy to focus on the life around us while we were going through, as we were on a nifty moving sidewalk for the majority of the exhibit. It was all very cool.

After we finished going through the first half of the exhibit, we took a break for lunch in the lounge/canteen/play area. Food was for the most part reasonably priced, and not terrible either. We ate and chatted, as it felt good to sit down even if it wasn’t for too long. After she was done eating, my youngest niece wanted to go play, so I went with her so her mom could finish eating. We touched horseshoe crabs (well, I touched, she watched very intently), we went into a mock-submarine and watched the fish swim around us (and she posed for a cute little photo), and we went down a huge lobster-shaped slide. Well, it was huge for her, not so much for me. She insisted that we go down together, so i popped her into my lap and down we went. I bumped my head a few times on the way down, but her reaction made it well worth it. She was laughing so hard by the time we came out the bottom of the slide! After that, we rejoined the crew and continued on to the next half of the aquarium.

img_3247We saw sea horses and sea dragons, anemones and sea stars, rays and jellies. It was really quite impressive.  Part way through, we even had a family photo taken! By the gift shop, we were even able to touch the rays (stingrays with their barb removed) that came to the surface of their tank. It was around this time my youngest niece passed out in her mom’s lap. She was exhausted by all the excitement! The rest of us browsed the gift shop, or hung around the ray tank touching the rays as they went by. I purchased a stuffed sea turtle and a very pretty, very large wine glass for myself. I can’t wait to use the glass!img_3266

The whole crew was flagging a bit by this time, so we went for a bit of a walk in downtown Toronto looking for somewhere to get coffee. Luckily we found a Starbucks not too far off. We had coffee for us “adults” and juice for the kids, and we sat and chatted and rested a bit. A lot of people were in the area because the Raptors were playing basically next door to where we were having our coffee. Tons of people were surrounding the big screen outside the Air Canada Centre. They were just starting to disperse as we started to walk back to the aquarium to wait for our coach to pick us up. We sat outside and enjoyed the sun until it did arrive, which wasn’t long after.

The bus ride home was longer and very quiet as everyone was exhausted. I even had a short nap. It was a very fun day for everyone involved. Something we will hopefully be able to do again in the future.


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