The Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk – Branson Aquarium Review and Tips

The Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk – Branson Aquarium Review and Tips

Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk


Have you heard about the new aquarium in Branson MO? While the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk opened back in November 2020, it still feels like a new and exciting addition to the city!

Aquariums are a perfect vacation activity for pretty much anyone, from a solo traveler like me to a family getaway to a fun date night. The colorful Boardwalk theme at the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk is definitely kid-friendly without being over the top, making it a hit with visitors of all ages.


New Aquarium in Branson MO Boardwalk Theme

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk to facilitate my posts, but no payment was received and all opinions are my own. Some links in this post may be affiliate links, which help support this site at no additional cost to you.

If you’re planning a visit to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson, I’ve got all the info you need for a fantastic visit!


What Kind of Animals Can We See Inside the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk?

I’ve seen a lot of people ask “Does the Branson aquarium have sharks?” and the short answer is yes, but the longer answer is way more fun. Whether you’re a fish fanatic or just looking for fun rainy day activities in Branson, there’s something for everyone here. If you’re anything like me you’ll be completely charmed by more than one of the aquarium inhabitants. The diversity of species and enchanting exhibits make it impossible not to get excited about exploring this underwater world.

Does the Branson Aquarium have sharks?


There are more than 260 different species living in the 400,000+ gallons of salt water inside the Aquarium at the Boardwalk. These amazing animals have come from all over the world and great care was taken to make sure every one was ethically sourced. Just a few of the creatures you’ll see inside (as of the time of this post’s publication) are:

  • Brownbanded Bamboo Sharks
  • Blacktip Reef Sharks
  • Clownfish (Yes, you can find Nemo!)
  • Fluorescing Corals
  • Guitarfish
  • Lionfish
  • Dragon Eels
  • Cownose Rays
  • Eagle Rays
  • Seahorses
  • A Giant Pacific Octopus

Yes, the amazing octopus statue out front is definitely eye-catching, but it’s not the only octopus you’ll see here! Aquarius the Giant Pacific Octopus is the mascot for the Aquarium at the Boardwalk, and you’ll spot him in several locations inside!

First, at the souvenir photo spot as you enter:

souvenir photos at the Branson aquarium at the boardwalk

…and then “in person”! (In fish?)

octopus Branson Missouri Aquarium


But the octopus fun doesn’t end there! There are several sneaky sculptures of Aquarius the Octopus hidden throughout the aquarium. You’d think that finding them would be easy, but some were quite tough to spot! Octopuses are masters of camouflage – they can change colors in an instant and even change their texture to blend in with rocky or smooth surfaces!


New aquarium in Branson MO interactive fun


You’ll also meet Aquarius and Finn the golden puffer in the fun 5-D movie/ride experience that transports you down into the underwater world you’re about to explore.


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A post shared by Crystal Ward (@andblueskyblog)

Meet Finn! I was torn between this or Coldplay’s “Yellow” for this reel. Did I make the right call?


Okay, I was planning to only use my photos here but I just Googled what a golden puffer looks like when they puff and I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED.
You’re welcome.


How Long Does It Take To Go Through the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk?

The average visitor spends around 60-90 minutes, but my visits have been more like two hours and up because fish are awesome.

That said…

My absolute #1 tip for visiting the Aquarium at the Boardwalk: Slow down. Take time to experience each exhibit fully. It’s easy to notice the big charismatic animals like sharks, but if you just take a minute to pay attention, the little guys in there are just as fascinating. For example, in one of the small tanks pictured below you might spot a colorful little striped fish that’s rare to see in person because they live in such deep water that they’re out of reach for SCUBA divers. This cool little fish was collected via submersible submarine and made the journey from the Atlantic Ocean to Branson, MO so that you can have a peek at him without descending to great depths.

Aquarium Branson MO shrimp exhibits

This is one of those spots where I really recommend taking a few minutes to stop and look closely! Each tank gives you a little peek into life underwater and how different species interact with their surroundings. They may be small, but you’ll see some of the aquarium’s most unusual animals here!

Leaf scorpionfish branson missouri aquarium

Take your time or you might miss something incredible like the leaf scorpionfish, which has venomous spines and sheds its skin twice a month! 


Also, be sure to read some of the signs near each exhibit. They’re filled with interesting information and traits you can look for, plus a little humor thrown in when you least expect it.

The new aquarium in Branson has pajama cardinalfish



Mirror Mirror On The Wall…

(Aquarius is the fairest of them all. You won’t change my mind.)

Two of the most photographed exhibits in the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk use multiple mirrors to create the feeling of infinite space, a bit like being surrounded by the seemingly endless expanse of the ocean. The Bloom Room, which is filled with cylindrical tanks of moon jellies, is probably one of the coolest exhibit designs I’ve seen. (Although I do have to give a shoutout to the fantastic flashlight fish exhibit here, too.)

Aquarium in Branson MO with moon jellyfish

While the jellyfish themselves are a translucent white-ish color, there are buttons you can push to change the color of the light in each tank. The moon jellies are hypnotizing to watch! They’re almost like a living lava lamp.

The other mirrored exhibit leads to a really beautiful tank filled with colorful tropical fish. I could easily get lost in watching this one for hours.



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Get Your Cameras Ready!

The mirrored rooms above aren’t the only popular photo spots inside the Aquarium at the Boardwalk!

Branson MO Aquarium Photo Spots

You’ll find a few specially-designed photo spots throughout the aquarium where you can become part of the action! Try on a mermaid tail, sit atop a seahorse carousel, or hop into the dive suit for instant Instagram-worthy pictures! (Dear Jason Momoa, if you’d like to come pose with the tail and the trident, I will 100% buy you a ticket. Just sayin’. 🧜‍♂️)

The glass tunnel that runs through the Grand Aquarium is also a great spot for photos!

Grand Aquarium Branson

Speaking of photo fun, please be sure your flash is OFF when taking photos of the aquarium exhibits! Not only will a flash give you terrible photos because of the glare from the glass, but a lot of the fish are sensitive to light and will definitely appreciate your consideration.


Family Friendly Fish Fun

While the entire Aquarium at the Boardwalk is family-friendly, there are a few activities specifically designed to keep children engaged.

Branson attractions for kids - play area at Branson aquarium

In some exhibits, you’ll find a tunnel that kids (or limber adults!) can crawl through for a unique perspective on the aquariums. Scurry through a shark-filled shipwreck or pop up among a school of lionfish!

Branson Boardwalk Aquarium Lionfish


The Finn-Tastic Creations station lets kids color a picture of a fish and have it come to life on a big screen, while the 24-foot tall Kelp Forest offers energetic kids the perfect place to stretch their legs!


Climbable Kelp Forest at Branson Aquarium


Interesting fish at the Aquarium in Branson MO

Those fish are pretty cute. Can I cuddle them?

I get it, I’ve definitely been tempted to smooch a stingray or two. While you can’t exactly snuggle up with a shark (Netflix and Krill?), the Aquarium at the Boardwalk does have two awesome touch pools where you can safely get up close and personal with several different animals! Feel the rough skin of a small shark and the smoothness of a stingray in the coral reef touch pool, then visit the invertebrate tide pool to shake tentacles with an anemone and stroke a starfish.

anemones in touch pool at branson boardwalk aquarium

Their tentacles will cling to your finger when you touch them! It’s like a tiny hug from a fishy friend. And yes, anemones are animals! They’re closely related to jellyfish.

Branson Aquarium Tickets

Ticket prices for the Aquarium at the Boardwalk vary a bit depending on when you visit: Weekends and peak season are a few dollars more, visiting in the off season and weekdays will save you a few dollars.

Branson Aquarium Tickets


The best deal on Branson Aquarium tickets is the Five’r Pass, which covers not only admission to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk but also four other attractions including the Hollywood Wax Museum, mini-golf, Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors, and the Castle of Chaos. You can purchase tickets at the aquarium or online here. They also offer discount tickets for local residents, groups, and military.


You can find the current Branson Aquarium Hours here!


Hotels Near Branson Aquarium

I’ve had a few people ask about hotels in Branson MO near the aquarium, so here are a few options if you’re looking to stay nearby!

    • The Clarion Hotel Branson is just two doors down and puts you within a very short stroll of the aquarium and several local restaurants, but they do have some recent negative reviews on TripAdvisor.
    • On the opposite side of the aquarium, the Radisson Hotel Branson is less than a quarter mile walk away. They’re a bit more expensive, but they get much better reviews.
    • If you’re traveling with family or friends, I found a VERY cute VRBO cabin that’s less than a mile from the aquarium and sleeps up to 7 people for about the same price as two hotel rooms. It has a private deck, a charcoal grill, a jetted tub, and a fully-equipped kitchen. You can check prices and availability here!


Branson MO Aquarium garden eels

Are you excited to visit the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk Yet??

You guys know that I don’t do anything halfway, so I have something extra for you! I chatted with some of the people who helped design and run the aquarium to put together a super fun list of 10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in BransonRead this before you go for the hidden gems you definitely want to look out for during your visit!

If you have questions that I didn’t cover here, feel free to drop them in the comments!


Boardwalk Aquarium in Branson

Is This the Cutest Cottage in Eureka Springs? A Review of the Mountain Chalet Treehouse at Oak Crest Cottages

Is This the Cutest Cottage in Eureka Springs? A Review of the Mountain Chalet Treehouse at Oak Crest Cottages

After my recent stay at Oak Crest Cottages in Eureka Springs, I couldn’t wait to share this place with you all! I’m pretty sure that I found the absolute cutest cottage in Eureka Springs, but I might have to try a few more just to be sure!


Eureka Springs Treehouses and Cottages

From treehouses to rock cottages to really reasonably priced studio suites, there’s something for everyone. Looking for a romantic Eureka Springs cottage with a fireplace and a Jacuzzi tub? They have three.

I stayed in the Mountain Chalet, a cozy studio-style cabin. When I show you how cute this cottage is, you might assume it was expensive, but it was seriously only about $40 more than staying at one of the budget chain hotels. (You can check current prices and availability here!)

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Hiking Trails at Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area in Branson, MO

Hiking Trails at Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area in Branson, MO

Branson hiking trails at Henning Conservation Area


The hiking trails at Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area are popular with both Branson locals and visitors because of the variety they offer. Whether you have 20 minutes or two hours, you can enjoy a quiet walk in the woods and not worry about venturing far from town.


💭 Summary: The hiking trails at Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area in Branson are a great choice for those who don’t want to venture far from the city’s entertainment district. Trails range from quite easy to moderately challenging, and you can enjoy sweeping views from the parking area.


Henning scenic overlook in Branson

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The 10 Best Things I Bought on Amazon in 2021

The 10 Best Things I Bought on Amazon in 2021

I saw someone on YouTube do a round-up of their favorite Amazon purchases from this year and thought it was a great idea, so here we go! Obviously if you have the option to shop local that’s much cooler on many fronts, but if you live in the middle of nowhere like I do, sometimes Amazon is your only hope. (Pulling up my list of orders was kind of depressing. I might have single-handedly funded Bezos’s entire trip to space. Sorry, everyone.)

As usual, links are Amazon affiliate links because cat food is expensive and I really need that 4 cents I get when you buy something, thank you very much.



Where were these when I was in my late 20s and going to concerts in bars every weekend? That zipper on the side opens up to a pocket large enough to stash your credit card an ID in, your car key, or even a phone charger. They come in 14 different colors/styles, they’re actually comfortable, and although Amazon prices fluctuate pretty often, they’re usually under $50. (Mine were $40.79 when I ordered them, and they’re the Mission Brown color.)


A Coat with Built-In Heaters!

This one really deserves to be in all-caps, too, but I didn’t want to overdue it. I met someone who had one of these a couple of winters ago and I’ve been wanting one ever since. Again – Where have you been all my life?? This is basically like if you stuck heating pads or small electric blankets in the front and back of your coat. Even when it’s frigid out, you get nice and toasty within about 30 seconds! The battery is removable so you can recharge it via USB. Again, thanks to the ups and downs of Amazon prices, I got it on sale for $90 but it’s now about $130, which is still VERY worth it IMO, but if you can score it on sale, all the better!



The EZY-Dose Pill Crusher

If you can’t swallow pills, this guy is your new best friend. I’ve had a pill cutter for years that I usually use to cut my pills into tiny pieces, but this is SO much easier. You unscrew it, pop your pill in, and when you re-screw it together, your pill is smushed to dust. (Obviously check with your doctor/pharmacist to make sure your meds are safe to be taken this way!) Although it’s advertised as blue they send random colors so mine is lime green, which was a little disappointing but it’s also less than $5 so I’m not really complaining.


WANF Foldable Travel Duffel Bag

I usually wind up flying Allegiant because there aren’t a lot of choices at my closest airport and they’re cheap. However, they do charge 40 freaking dollars each way to check a bag, so I needed a decent-sized carry on that I knew would fit under the seat if necessary. This is a little thinner than I expected from the photo (think light canvas backpack material) but it’s $11 so… whatever. It has both a shoulder strap and handles, and it comes in a bunch of cute colors. (There are some options where you get TWO of ’em for $12!) It held up totally fine despite being packed to the seams with probably 20+ pounds of stuff for my Florida trip.


Black & Decker 20 V String Trimmer

I hate yard work, but I also hate paying someone else to do it for me. To avoid my city getting grumpy with me when my front yard starts looking like a lush jungle (which I honestly think is way cooler than everyone else’s identical lawns, but whatevs), I grabbed this battery powered trimmer for about $70. This eliminates the need to deal with fuel (apparently you have to mix oil and gas for traditional weed whackers? No thanks.) and the possibility of accidentally cutting the electric cord like my mom once did with a hedge trimmer. The battery only lasts about half an hour before it needs re-charged, but a) My front yard only takes a few minutes to do and b) When I tried it in the back yard, my arm was so numb from the vibrations that I could only use it about 15-20 minutes before I had to admit defeat. Plus it’s less than 6 pounds.


Covelin Canvas Tote Bag

I either carry the smallest purse possible or a big ol’ tote bag that I can fit notebooks and a spare cat in. This kind of bag also comes in super handy when the airline allows you a carry-on and one “personal item” because technically it’s a purse but I’m pretty sure you could fit all 7 Harry Potter books inside if you tried. This was $11 when I got it, but it’s currently down to $9. It does have an ugly white patch on it, but I covered mine up with a Strange Planet button and all was well. This comes in a whopping *76* different colors, some of which are as low as $7, and I’m delighted to report that the one I got is called “Ball Blue.” (I’m very tempted to get the bottle green one as a spare.)


L’Oreal Paris Elvive 8 Second Wonder Water

I forget where I heard about this (probably YouTube or TikTok) but this stuff is apparently crazy popular and I’ve been living under a rock. It’s about $9 and you use it after you shampoo for shinier, silkier hair. It’s basically the same consistency of water when it comes out of the bottle, but when it hits your hair, it HEATS UP and then you feel all fancy. (Just me?) I’m not explaining it well but it has 18,471 five-star ratings on Amazon (No, seriously) so it might be magical?


Columbia Women’s Crestwood Hiking Shoes

Well… hello, inflation. These were about $60 back when I bought them in the glorious era of stimulus checks, but they’re currently $100, so maybe check back in a couple months? Anyway, my beloved Ahnu hiking shoes were literally falling apart so it was time. These are a little chonkier (scientific term) than I usually go for but we’ve had some good times together this year.

You’re probably not going to want to like, hike the entire Appalachian Trail in these, but so far mine aren’t showing any wear at all. Definitely a decent choice if you want something in between the super cheap shoes that are going to fall apart and the fancy hiking boots that are going to cost hundreds of dollars.


I’m putting these last two together because I bought them together and use them together:


I had a closet door that I wanted to cover so I went to Amazon to see if I could find a wall hanging that was cute but not so expensive that I’d be heartbroken when my cats inevitably destroy it. I’m a sucker for a good mandala design, so I got this one (It has one of those insanely long, overly-descriptive product names on Amazon but the brand is Enjohos) and wound up ordering the 66 ft. Fairy Lights String to go with it. At first I wasn’t so sure about the lights, but they turned out to be great. They’re waterproof and the flexible copper cord and bulbs don’t get hot at all. 66 feet sounds like a lot but mine are doubled up above my bed (about 6 ft each way) and then above the closet I just kept looping them around until I ran out of length. The tapestry is thin like a sheet, silky, and way bigger than I expected since I ordered the small size. (It’s covering a double closet door that’s close to 5 feet wide and probably 7 ft tall.) At $11 for the tapestry and $12 for the lights, I was definitely pleased by how much they changed up the vibe of the space for so little money.


That’s it for 2021! Do you like this kind of round-up or do you now kinda hate me for causing you to add things to your wishlist? 😂 Let me know in the comments!

Show Us Your Books – The October Edition

Show Us Your Books – The October Edition

Hello, friends! I haven’t participated in a Show Us Your Books day in ages, but this is the 7th anniversary of the link-up so it seemed like the perfect time to catch up! Since it’s been so long, these aren’t all recent reads, we’re covering a good chunk of the year! Better late than never, though?

Amazon links are affiliate links because I just spent $15 on organic catnip so those 4 cents I get when you buy something will help me feel better. And buy more stuff to spoil my cats.


Goodreads * Amazon

This popped up as available on my library home page and I felt like I’d heard good things so I grabbed it and wound up really liking it. I’ve always wanted to have a better understanding of mythology but have never been able to get all of the stories straight, and it turns out that having them in this kind of narrative helps a lot. It did drag a bit around the middle for me, but overall I really enjoyed it. I’ve also heard good things about The Song of Achilles by the same author, so I might pick that up soon.


Wish You Were Here

Goodreads * Amazon

I find old cemeteries totally fascinating so I couldn’t resist requesting this on Netgalley. The author visits cemeteries around the world, and there’s a lot of interesting historical info blended with her personal experiences. Some are fascinating, some are a little dull. I’d say pick it up if the topic is something you’re super into, but if you’re not a big fan of cemeteries it’s probably not going to be an engrossing read for you.


Goodreads * Amazon

The way our brain processes our senses is totally fascinating to me, so I had to request this when I saw it on Netgalley. It tells the story of a young man who lost his sight quite young and later had it restored surgically, and of a woman who lost her hearing as a child and had it restored as an adult. I think it’s easy to hear about that kind of thing and just think, “Oh, they can see/hear now!” but it turns out it’s way more complicated than that. For example, the boy who regained his vision had to learn how to navigate things we don’t even notice, like the way hallways appear to narrow in the distance and distinguishing between what’s an actual obstacle on the path in front of you and what’s just a shadow that you can walk over normally. I liked that the author actually has some experience in the matter – she had vision that made everything appear flat until undergoing surgery that allowed her to see “in stereo”, so she understands what it’s like to adjust to seeing the world in a whole new way.


Goodreads * Amazon

This is a weird one for me to review because I didn’t like the writing style (felt like it was trying too hard to be quirky) and I didn’t like the main character, but I still enjoyed it. I read it over a month ago and not much about the story has stuck with me, which isn’t exactly what you want to hear in a book review, but it’s still an enjoyable read if you just want to relax with something fun.


Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Goodreads * Amazon

Oof, be prepared going into this one. Chanel’s description of her interrogation after waking up in a hospital after being assaulted by Brock Turner, the examinations she had to go through afterwards, the strangeness of having no idea what happened to her… it’s a lot. She fantastically describes her whole journey, from trying to get back to a normal life to the way having to take breaks for the court case made that hard, to how strange it is to finally lay eyes on the person she knew did this to her. Not an easy read by any means, but certainly a worthwhile one. Be sure to also check out her artwork.


Goodreads * Amazon

I checked out this ebook immediately after finishing Know My Name because I figured it would be the opposite – something I didn’t have to think about too much. I went into it expecting to do a lot of eye rolling, which definitely happened, but it actually wound up being a lot heavier than I expected. Like, expect addiction and abuse within the first couple of chapters. Still, as a person who was a teen in the 90s, it’s interesting to read about how little influence she had over the direction of her career, how she was marketed, etc.


Broken (In The Best Possible Way)

Goodreads * Amazon

I’ve been familiar with Jenny (aka The Bloggess) since WAY back in the day… I think we were in the 20-Something Bloggers group together? As with any book of essays, some are laugh-out-loud funny, some are poignant, some aren’t particularly memorable. I enjoyed the mix of off-the-wall stories and more serious ones, like her experience getting a magnetic brain stimulation treatment for depression. Reading a few of her blog posts should give you a good idea of if you’ll enjoy the book or not, since it’s basically the same writing style.


Eleanor & Park

Goodreads * Amazon

I listened to this as an audiobook and started out totally not into it but wound up liking it quite well. It’s told in chapters where the narrator alternates between the two main characters, and it’s basically a story of two teenage misfits finding each other. Looking at reviews, it seems like this tends to be a love it or hate it type of book (there’s a LOT of commentary of how the racial issues of the time period it’s set in are handled), but I find myself in the middle as a “That was entertaining to listen to for a couple of days.” – maybe because I had it playing entirely for “company” while I was house sitting for a friend and didn’t put real thought into it? (I don’t think I would have made it more than a few chapters if I’d picked it up as a regular book.) I’d be curious to hear what you guys thought.


Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out what everyone else has been reading lately and to enter the SUYB anniversary giveaway!