Discover Utah and the World at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium

A HUGE thanks to Loveland Living Planet Aquarium and Mom It Forward for providing tickets for my family and sponsoring this post. As you can see, we had a blast!

My kids weren't out of school for a week when I heard the dreaded, "I'm bored" statement. Since this isn't my first go at summer vacations, I was prepared. We all hopped in the van and headed to Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper, Utah.

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I hadn't been to their new location and was super excited to see the space. When the first thing you see when you walk in is a giant whale hanging from the ceiling, you know you're in for an impressive time!

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The first exhibit on your right is, appropriately enough, all about Utah. It contains all the fish and critters local to our state, which I think is important to show our children. We definitely have more than brine shrimp and the Great Salt Lake.

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Travelling around the exhibits is like taking a trip around the world. You don't just walk from tank to tank, you learn about each species and what their natural habitat is like. I love trips like this where my children are being entertained and learning at the same time

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.A very popular stop on the global tour is the penguin station. I honestly could have watched them all day. They each have so much personality! It was so fun seeing them interact with each other, swim in the water, waddle, and jump.

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.It was quite the jump going from Antarctica to South America, but that's the exhibit we headed to next. There was a distinct temperature and humidity shift in this space to accommodate the birds, frogs, and everything else living here.

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We had the chance to watch these fish being fed. I wasn't sure what they would eat, but I didn't expect to see chunks of papaya floating in the water. These fish have excellent taste.

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I didn't expect to see ducks at the aquarium, but these two kept us busy avoiding the water they'd intentionally splash on you. Pretty sure Daffy and Donald's personalities were based on these two.

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My middle kiddo wasn't a fan of the splashing, so we took a break in the lobby where they had a hands-on lesson about the fishing industry. He even taught us about it later that day.

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Not going to lie, this is my favorite animal in the aquarium! I was so excited to see that the Asia exhibit houses two Clouded leopards. What can I say? I like big cats and I cannot lie.

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I never thought I'd think a catfish was cute, but this guy just looked so happy to be there, he reminded me of The Incredible Mr. Limpet.

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One of the busiest and coolest exhibits is the domed tank that you walk through. Different varieties of sharks, stingrays, even sea turtles swim right over your head. It's like being in the ocean.

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I think this picture sums up our trip perfectly. My kids were in awe of the amazing world we live in and all the animals, fish, plants, and people in it.

Easing Road Trip Travels

We live at least an hour away from any family members, which means our kids are no strangers to travel. Because they're so dependent on electronics, they don't know what to do when they're in the car without wifi. I'm all about forcing children into creativity through boredom, just not when I'm stuck in a confined space with them for hours. So this summer, I'm using some brilliant downloads created by BYUTV's Relative Race to ease tension of travel.

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Since our trips revolve around family, it's only fitting that the activities are all about recording memories and getting to know each other better. Each family member gets their own set of worksheets to capture new experiences and write down old ones.

My favorite fun section is Part 8: Animals. You can check off how many cows, horses, sheep, dogs, and other animals you see. Another page has you replace your road trip companions with animals, drawing how each one would look. Get ready to laugh at your illustrated self as a giraffe or a badger!

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The heartfelt pages of Part 10: Reflections will have you thinking not only of your personal journey, but of those that have traveled before you. Family members are asked to share the story of an ancestor who overcame a challenge. Even though travelling with my kids can be challenging, it's nothing compared to what grandparents, great-grandparents, and others have been through. It's because of them that I have a family to travel with, family to go visit, and a reason to connect with the world around me.

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The second download are conversation cards. Relive the past and learn more about each other by sharing a funny story about a family pet you had growing up or describing a place that has special meaning for you. Use the answers to the prompts to create vacation plans for the future!

Click the link below to download the worksheets for your next family road trip.

RELATIVE RACE ROAD TRIP ACTIVITY WORKSHEETS

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DO Touch the Fish! — SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium

Thanks so much to SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium for a the family pass! I'm sharing this post in gratitude for the amazing experience.

I'm have a confession to make — I didn't see the ocean until I was 23. True story! I grew up in a land-locked state and we didn't travel unless it was to visit family, none of whom lived by an ocean. When my then-boyfriend (now-husband) took me to the beach, I was in awe of the tide pools. I'd never seen starfish and sea stars in person before, but I was still too big of a wimp to touch anything.

I still live in a land-locked state, but now I have much easier access to not just sea life, but creatures from all over the world. SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium is my family's new favorite destination to be indoors while still experiencing nature.
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Believe it or not, SeaQuest is in a mall. Layton Hills Mall, to be exact. I thought it would be small, considering the location, but it's over 20,000 square feet. They even have a Fiiz at the front counter! The first room you enter introduces the atmosphere with a large canoe, perfect for photo ops.

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Each room highlights a different region with not just fish, but reptiles, birds, and other fauna native to that area. Some of them have separate rooms where you can interact with an individual species. The iguana room is dominated by a large, orange guy named Chester.

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My favorite part of the aquarium is this rule: If you can reach it, you can touch it. Just use two fingers and be gentle. It kept my son busy the entire time, reaching in the water to pet everything from tortoises to trout.

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There are, of course, some things too dangerous or delicate to touch. Those are kept behind tall glass so there's no chance of them, or you, getting hurt. This lionfish is as beautiful as it is deadly!

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I love that they tried to include animals that children would recognize from cartoons. My son loved to find Dory, Nemo, and Pascal.

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I never knew an octopus could be cute, but this baby one is adorable! We even got to see him eat shrimp for lunch.

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You can purchase food for a lot of the animals you can touch. I was super excited for this in the parakeet and lorikeet rooms. The parakeets are beyond friendly and will land all over you. They really enjoyed the fringe on my shoes!

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Another fun element SeaQuest has included are mermaids! They're next to the stingray tank and are available for photo ops. They even give out colorful, glittered shells.

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The stingray tank was a favorite of my son. They're so friendly and swim right up to the top, hoping for food. The tank is so large, you can schedule times to snorkel with them!

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I love that the employees are so knowledgeable. You can find them walking around with individual animals that you can pet and sometimes hold! They'll answer any questions you have about them. Erin, the owner of SeaQuest, showed us just how friendly the animals were.

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I got in on the interaction with this albino python!

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My absolute FAVORITE interactive part of the aquarium is the Fish Spa. For an additional fee, these little toothless nibblers suck the dead skin right off your feet! I am insanely ticklish, so I was nervous about the experience, but it wasn't bad at all! The best description I can think of is it feels like Pop Rocks!

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Thanks to Erin and everyone at SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium for an amazing experience. We've already been back and will use our family pass well!