Plan at least half a day at this four-in-one-attraction that features the Aquarium, the Botanic Garden, the Zoo and Tingley Beach.
At the Aquarium, trace the Rio Grande River from its source in the Colorado mountains through the city and into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. See toothsome sharks zigzagging in a 285,000 gallon tank alongside sea turtles and reef fish.
The zoo stretches for 64 acres along the Rio Grande. Giraffes, elephants, koalas and polar bears are among the most popular animals.
Be sure to stroll the Botanic Garden, a city oasis where flowers bloom spring through fall in the Pollinators Garden and cacti blossom in the Desert Conservatory.
The four-acre Sasebo Japanese Garden soothes with its koi pond and waterfall. At the Children’s Fantasy Garden, giant rakes, watering cans and a walk-though pumpkin engage young kids.
If you still have time, visit Tingley Beach’s three lakes — good for fishing and pedal boating; bring a model boat to launch at the pond.