Looking for something to do on a dreary rainy afternoon, my friend and I took a short car ride from near downtown Quebec to the Aquarium du Québec. Within seconds of parking, we were met with a polar bear and two Vikings sailing across the lot…this was going to be interesting.
Reasonably priced at $20 for adults, the park is a combination of indoor pavilions and outdoor displays, the latter of which include several tanks of marine mammals, as well as an expansive playground and wetland park for the more energetic kids (of any age).
The main pavilion is set up to reflect the local aquatic scene, with freshwater displays of fish found in the St. Lawrence basin on one floor and marine fishes more representative of the open ocean on the other level. Although the lighting is quite bright on the aquatic level, which makes sense given the shallower waters, the lighting is much darker on the marine level, which can make photography of the constantly moving fish somewhat challenging.
For me though, the second pavilion was where all the excitement was, starting with a large almost pitch black display of jellyfish in different tanks lit from below in ever-shifting colours. As I quickly noted in checking my camera, the light effects can make for significant artistic flare.
One disappointment, however, was a display called Awesome Ocean, which was essentially a walk-through coral reef that curves overhead. Although the display itself was quite nice, offering glimpses of beautifully colourful fish, the entire display couldn’t have been more than 12 feet long, so the immersive effect was almost impossible.
Another challenge to the indoor pavilions is that many of the paths the wind around the displays are relatively narrow, meaning that you are constantly at risk of stumbling over the flotilla of strollers that seemed to be everywhere that day. This was particularly problematic in the jellyfish display, where many cylindrical tanks required you to criss-cross the room.
Despite having visited many better designed and larger aquariums—including Toronto’s new Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada—I had a good time at the Aquarium du Québec, and definitely recommend it as a destination particularly for traveling families. Whether in the playground, watching the seals or scrambling from tank to tank in the dark, young kids will find plenty to do, particularly on a cloudy day.