Family * Travel * Food

Our Visit To SEA LIFE Aquarium Charlotte-Concord #hosted

Last week, my family had the great pleasure of visiting SEA LIFE Aquarium in Charlotte-Concord, NC. Lucky for us, we live just an hour away, so getting there was not bad at all. SEA LIFE is located inside Concord Mills Outlet Mall, at Entry 7. When I heard they were building an aquarium inside of a mall, I thought it was a joke. Well, seeing is believing in this case. SEA LIFE Aquarium was impressive in so many ways.

The ticket counter/check-in process is a breeze and the great part about this aquarium is that once you get your tickets and hand stamped, you are free to return to the facility for the entire day. This made it convenient for us to step out for a bite to eat or to visit the other shops in the mall. At check-in, we were able to get brochures about exhibits, feeding times, and featured events as well as a Dive Log Book for the little ones. Tips: You will get the better rates if you pre-purchase your tickets online. If you live in the area, it might make the most sense to purchase a season pass if you plan to visit several times a year. Additionally, you have the opportunity to have your family photo taken before entering the actual aquarium, so be prepared for that. 

Although the actual facility is not as large as most aquariums I have been to, this one made great use of every square foot! Each exhibit (known as "Dive Stations") was put together beautifully and had a touchscreen nearby so you can identify and check out facts about each animal in the tank.

We all learned so much. The SEA LIFE staff members were very friendly and eager to answer any questions we had. At the end of each Dive Station, we were able to stamp our Dive Log Book which gets your little one a prize at the end of their visit. SEA LIFE really did a great job at keeping both children and adults engaged throughout the visit. My son is a self-proclaimed 'Animal Expert', so he wanted to lead us as if he was our personal tour guide. It's amazing how much you can learn from a 7 year old kid.

There was so much to see and I really loved the instrumental music that was playing in the background. It was really soothing and made the experience even better. There was a nice variety of fish, shark, sting rays, jellies, eel and even some crustaceans. The touchpool experience was awesome. We were able to touch live crabs and starfish. This was like a major nerd moment for my son.

At the end of the aquarium sits a cute gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs and photos that are taken at the beginning of your adventure. Usually gift shops are very expensive, but SEA LIFE had so many great items at very affordable prices. We bought some cute plush sea animals for William.

On our second visit for the day, we overheard a SEA LIFE staff member telling another patron about a behind the scenes tour of the facility. We were told to join in and we are so glad we did! We got to learn how the aquarium is operated as well as seeing the different stations where animals are cared for if they get sick and how their food is prepped. We saw what the aquarium looked like from above. It was magnificent to say the least. There were locker rooms with dive equipment for the marine biologists who dive daily to clean the tanks and tend to the animals. They made about about how safety and cleanliness are an extreme priority and they work every single day to make certain the animals are fed and cared for.

I spoke with our lovely tour guide and told her how amazed I was that we are standing in a full-fledged aquarium that is in a shopping mall. It's one of those things you have to see in person to truly appreciate it. She was telling us that they have another 10,000 or so square feet that they will be expanding on and hopefully will get the papers in order to have a sea turtle tank. I sure can't wait to see all of that come together.

Before I forget-- if you have preschool aged children, SEA LIFE is featuring Disney Junior's The Octonauts from August 7-23

Participate in Octonauts Training Academy and learn what it takes to become a member of the crew. As cadets, they'll master the specialties of their favorite characters across 6 fun zones, meet Kwazii and Captain Barnacles in person and then be rewarded for completing their training with a very special Octonauts certificate! Check the website for more details.

As you can see, no matter the age, anyone is welcome to take a photo with their favorite characters. Also, they have some very cute Octonauts merchandise in the gift shop, so be sure to take a look.

We took away so much from our visit. The most important thing was the urgency to protect marine animals. SEA LIFE has provided a state of the art facility to not only showcase these animals, but also encourage better environmental practices to preserve these precious creatures. Although I have read reviews about people complaining about the cost to visit for such a small venue that doesn't take long to get through, I honestly feel like it is well worth the ticket price. You can go in as many times as you want for the full day of operating hours. I feel like we got even more the second time around by joining in the behind the scenes tour. The joy on son's face and seeing my husband and adult daughters behave like children were priceless. We fully enjoyed our time at SEA LIFE Aquarium and if you are ever visiting the Charlotte area or live in the vicinity, I highly recommend you check it out.

Be sure to visit the SEA LIFE Aquarium website for more information and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for promotions and updates.

I was offered media tickets in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own as always. Many thanks to Sea Life Aquarium for hosting us! 

Top 5 Fishing Piers of the Carolinas

Here are five of the best in the region:

North Myrtle Beach, S.C. – Cherry Grove Fishing Pier
The 985-foot Cherry Grove Fishing is one of the most popular family fishing and sightseeing destinations on the South Carolina coast. The pier is adjacent to the beautiful art-deco Prince Resort and has a fully equipped bait and tackle shop.

Nags Head, N.C. – Jennette’s Pier
The oldest on the Outer Banks, Jennette's Pier was destroyed by Hurricane Isabel in 2003 but was rebuilt by the NC Aquariums as an all-concrete, 1,000-foot-long educational ocean pier offering educational programs and even fishing classes.

Beaufort, S.C. – Paradise Fishing Pier on Hunting Island
Located on Hunting Island in South Carolina’s most popular state park, the pier extends 1,120 feet into the Fripp Inlet. With five miles of pristine South Carolina beaches, a publicly accessible historic lighthouse and over 200 campsites the island is the premier Palmetto destination.

Hatteras Island, N.C. – Avon Fishing Pier
The 600 foot long Avon Pier offers some of the best redfish fishing in the world. Golfers will love the pier's golf center with an 18-hole par-3 course on the premises!

Folly Beach, S.C. – Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier
Stretching 1,045 feet off the coast, the Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier is the second-longest East Coast pier extending directly into the Atlantic Ocean. The 23-foot high pier, offers amazing fishing in the Folly Beach surf, spectacular views and a variety of fishing tournaments, special events and dining.

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