Toronto has a lot of world-class attractions and things to see and do. But if you're interested in undersea life and aquatic creatures of all kinds, you'll definitely want to add a visit to Ripley's Aquarium of Canada to your Toronto itinerary, whether you're just visiting the city or you live here. The downtown Toronto attraction features 16,000 aquatic animals housed in 10 different galleries, as well as interactive pools and touch exhibits. In addition to getting to see all those fascinating creatures, the aquarium also hosts various events, classes and programs for both kids and adults.
Hours, Location and Getting There
The aquarium is located at the base of the CN Tower, facing onto Bremner Boulevard. This puts it just south of the downtown core and close to both the Rogers Centre and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and almost directly across from the Steam Whistle Brewing Roundhouse.
It’s easy to walk to Ripley's Aquarium of Canada from Union Station using the SkyWalk, or to take the Spadina streetcar to Bremner Boulevard and walk east past the Rogers Centre. Pedestrians can also be access the aquarium from St. Andrews Station. Walk west on King Street to John Street and follow John Street south, across the John Street bridge to Bremner Blvd.
Ripley’s Aquarium is open from 9am to 11pm, 365 days a year, seven days a week. They do close earlier on occasion, so it’s a good idea to call ahead before visiting.
Ticket Options and How to Buy
There are a few ticket options to choose from when it comes to visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Online Timed Tickets allow you to reserve an entry time. Enter during your selected time slot and stay as long as you want within operating hours. These tickets cost $31 for adults, $21 for seniors and youth (6-13) and $9 for kids (3-5).
Express Anytime Tickets are valid for 365 days from purchase date and cost $35 for adults, $24.25 for seniors and youth and $12 for kids. Sharks After Dark tickets allow you to visit after 7 PM at a discounted rate, which works out to $30 for adults, $19.25 for seniors and youth and $7 for kids.
All tickets can be purchased online via the aquarium’s website, or a limited amount of walk-up tickets are also available for purchase at the Guest Services counter or at one of the self-serve kiosk machines. Consider buying your ticket online to make your visit easier and avoid the potential for lineups.
If you’re also interested in visiting the CN Tower, either before or after your aquarium visit, you can purchase the Sea the Sky Combo. This gets you general admission access to both attractions at $58 for adults (13-64), $45 for seniors and $37 for children (4-12).
Things to See and Do at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
There's something for everyone interested in undersea life at Ripley's Aquarium. There are 10 galleries here teeming with fish and other aquatic creatures. Galleries include:
- Canadian Waters featuring aquatic animals from Canadian waters
- Rainbow Reef featuring 60 varieties of species of tropical fish
- Dangerous Lagoon featuring sharks inside an underwater tunnel
- Discovery Centre featuring touch pools and interactive tanks (great for kids)
- The Gallery, which houses several different types of undersea life including living coral
- Ray Bay, which is home to dozens of stingrays
- Planet Jellies featuring many different types of jellyfish
- Life Support System where you can learn about the inner workings of the aquarium
- Shoreline Gallery which a touch pool featuring rays and bamboo sharks
One of the highlights at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is Dangerous Lagoon, which houses 17 sharks of three different species, including sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks and sandbar sharks. In addition to sharks you'll also get to spot moray eels, grouper, green sawfish and sea turtles. The best thing about Dangerous Lagoon is how you view it. This is via a 96-metre underwater tunnel with a moving walkway, the longest underwater viewing tunnel in North America. Dangerous Lagoon is the largest exhibit in the aquarium at close to 2.5 million litres.
In addition, Shark Reef, a crawlthrough tunnel, houses blacktip and whitetip sharks and zebra sharks.
Programs and events
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada isn't just a place to come and spot sharks, jellies, eels and other undersea life. The aquarium also offers various events, classes and programs. Some of these include:
Friday Night Jazz: Listen to jazz with a backdrop of colourful sea creatures with Ripley's Friday Night Jazz, hosted on the second Friday of every month.
Morning yoga classes: Practice your downward dog amongst tropical fish by signing up for six weeks of morning yoga. Sessions run for six continuous weeks from 7:30am to 8:30am on Tuesday mornings. Check the website often as these sessions sell out quickly.
Photography classes: Brush up on your photography skills with a class in the aquarium geared towards digital photography enthusiasts with an interest in shooting undersea life.
Day camps for kids: Ripley's Aquarium offers various educational camps for kids ages 2 to 18.
Paint Nite: Get inspired by sea life and create a marine-themed canvas painting. Price of admission includes a 16x20 canvas and entrance to the aquarium and there are drinks and snacks available for purchase.
Stingray experience: Get up close and personal with the aquarium's stingrays with a two-hour experience that includes the opportunity to get into the water with the gentle creatures.
If you're feeling particularly daring you can sign up for a discovery dive, a 30 minute guided dive in Dangerous Lagoon where you can swim with sharks.
Hungry during your visit? If you need a snack in between shark-spotting, Ripley’s offers a variety of hot and cold foods at Ripley’s Café, as well as several food kiosks located around the facility.
In terms of accessibility, there are wheelchairs available free of charge. Simply leave a piece of ID at Guest Services to obtain one. But note that wheelchairs are subject to availability.
Take care of any souvenir shopping at Cargo Hold Gift Shop featuring an array of aquarium-themed items from plush toys and keychains, to T-shirts, books and toys.
If you have coats or bags with you and don’t want to carry them, there is the option of coat check or renting a cubby. Coat check is $2, larger items (like luggage) are $4 and renting a cubby is $3.
Tips for visiting
It's a good idea to save time and buy your tickets online in advance so you can skip the ticket purchasing line on the day of your visit.
If you want to avoid crowds, plan your visit outside of the peak hours of 11am to 2pm on weekdays and 11am to 4pm on weekends and holidays.
Keep an eye on the events page for fun and unique programs and experiences.
There is an interactive dive show every two hours where you can learn more about the exhibit as well as the different species of the tank from an educator and diver communicating via microphone.