Visited Sea Life Aquarium for the first time on Saturday. It is located in Auburn Hills and is part of the Great Lakes Crossing Outlet Mall.  It was a high volume day and the aquarium was sold out at 1:30 pm until 4:00 pm. You can purchase tickets online (saving 10%) and I highly recommend this option if planning a visit. Luckily, we already planned to spend the day checking out the mall so the delay was not inconvenient.

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The aquarium is smaller than I expected and takes about 45 minutes to walk through at a leisurely pace. This is definitely a family friendly place to visit and there were many kids around. It features over 5000 sea creatures including fish, turtles, sting-rays, sharks, crabs, star fish and more. You can touch a start fish or hold a crab in the Touchpool experience. There is also an area with hand sanitizer to clean up after. My favorite part was the underwater Ocean Tunnel which is a long tunnel where the glass, water and sea life is all around you.

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Tickets are a little pricier than I preferred for the size of the exhibit at $ 23.50 per person for the walk up rate. You can purchase an individual annual pass for $60.00 or a family pass (up to 4) for $230.00. The annual pass is good for one year from the date of redemption, includes express entry and a 10% discount at the gift shop. We confirmed you may purchase one day passes and walk through the aquarium and then upgrade tickets to annual passes with the funds already spent going toward the price. If you have kids and live in the area, I can see where the annual pass is a good value. For us, it is a little too far way and small size of an aquarium for repeat visits.This does not mean I will not go back someday in the future.

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The Great Lakes Crossing Outlet Mall is the largest Outlet Mall in Michigan. It features 185 stores including department outlets for Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. There is also a huge Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store specializing in merchandise and clothes for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, camping and more. This store is definitely worth checking out if you like such activities. The mall is indoors which is unusual for an outlet facility and offers protection from weather elements. It is designed in a big circle so you can walk the trek and see all that is offered with ease. There are also periodic short cuts (cutting through a store or hallway) that allow you to navigate to specific sections in an expedient manner.

The mall includes a large AMC Theatre facility with 25 auditoriums ranging in size from 100 to 600 seats and includes an IMAX Theatre. I could definitely see watching a show here sometime.

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There is a decent size food court for dining or several restaurants to enjoy such as Bar Louie, Johnny Rockets, Rainforest Cafe and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill. Due to the aquarium traffic, we actually had both lunch and dinner at the mall. For lunch, we tried Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill for the first time. This is a fun place and a rather large facility. There is a decent size stage for when musicians play along with a dance floor. The bar itself is shaped like a guitar with a American flag faux guitar as the ceiling above it. The waitresses were all dressed in jean shorts, black tees and cowboy boots. I loved the fact that they all wore different colors and styles for the boots. If I worked there I’d want a different pair to wear for every day of the week. We both ordered burgers and fries which were tasty though not extra special. We ate at the Rainforest Cafe for dinner but did have to sit in the bar area as there was over an hour wait (for both lunch and dinner time). You can make reservations so I would do that in the future. I have been to other Rainforest Cafe locations (Vegas) and the Auburn Hills location was just as nice. The menu is fairly large ranging from sandwiches and burgers to steak, seafood and pasta. We enjoyed a Jungle Seafood and Steak platter which was delicious.

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I look forward to going back to the Great Lakes Crossing Outlet Mall in the fall for additional shopping and fun dining experiences.

 

About Liz Ball

Liz Ball is a freelance writer focusing on Michigan travel and local events in her community.