Sea Life Manchester
Sea Life Manchester is the city’s only aquarium. It isn’t enormous – for something bigger you’d have to travel to Blue Planet in Ellesmere Port – but there is plenty to keep the kids entertained for an afternoon.
The Ocean Tunnel is one of the highlights; watch sharks, stingrays and sea turtles swimming overhead. The Ocean Window offers an alternative view of the tropical tank where you can take in the whole panorama of shimmering scales in one go.
The rockpool is always popular and it is very hands-on – literally, sometimes. It’s the place to go if you want a shrimp to scuttle into your outstretched palm.
From enormous Japanese spider crabs to cute clownfish there is a good variety of species to see. As the Sea Life Trust has its tentacles in a number of conservation projects such as coral reef rebuilding, a visit doesn’t feel icky or guilt-inducing.
As well as watching the sea life (which is strangely mesmerising in an almost hypnotic way) you can opt for VIP add-ons like turtle feeding or snorkelling with sharks.
There is a small soft play area for younger children but no café. Sea Life Manchester is located in Trafford Palazzo (formerly Barton Square) right next to the Trafford Centre so finding somewhere to eat shouldn’t be a problem.
Pre-booking is essential and multi-attraction tickets are available which allow you to visit Sea Life Manchester and Legoland Discovery Centre next door.