OdySea in the Desert: It's more than an Aquarium!
By Meg Brunson
When you hear "OdySea" do you think about the newest and largest aquarium in the South West?! For many local parents, that's exactly where their minds go. But, it's important to recognize that OdySea in the Desert is SO much more. It encompasses the entire entertainment complex at 9500 East Vía de Ventura in Scottsdale. OdySea is an amazing destination for the family, a place where you can spend the whole day having fun. Last week, my husband and I were hosted by OdySea in the Desert and had the opportunity to explore many of the different venues you'll find at OdySea in the Desert.
Four Peaks Mining Company at OdySea in the Desert
Four Peaks Mining Company is a retail store that features amethysts mined just outside of Phoenix, on the western slopes of the Four Peaks mountains. In addition to having a large selection of gems, minerals, and fossils, they have a mini in-store mine for visitors to explore. Four Peaks Mining Co. also offers a variety of fun kids' activities and educational and informative lectures. We loved learning more about the amethyst mines and seeing some of the unique jewelry, gifts, decor, and educational toys!
Dolphinaris at OdySea in the Desert
Dolphinaris is located right next door to the OdySea Aquarium. Dolphinaris provides a variety of opportunities to interact with dolphins both on land and in the water. They are even home to a celebrity dolphin, who starred in the movie 50 First Dates! In addition to providing unique encounters with dolphins, they are also dedicated to education and conservation. When you book a dolphin experience, you can also enjoy the day at their Beach Club - lounge chairs surround pools and hot tubs with amazing views of the dolphins in their habitat. Docktails Beach Cafe is located adjacently to Dolphinaris. You can dine at Docktails (a minimum purchase is required) and see the dolphins play, or, with Beach Club admission, Docktails will deliver to you!
Multiple restaurants at OdySea in the Desert providing dining options that overlook the dolphin habitat and allow you to watch the dolphins swim, play, and perform while you dine, including:
El Encanto at OdySea in the Desert
Experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of Mexico at El Encanto Mexican Restaurant. We sat near the front of the restaurant, beside a beautiful fountain. The menu is authentic handmade Mexican Cuisine, with specialties from regions all over Mexico. We especially enjoyed the margaritas, beef and chicken fajitas, tequila lime shrimp, and chocolate chimis. El Encanto is a great date night destination!
Polar Play at OdySea in the Desert
Polar Play provides a truly unique experience that is family-friendly during the day, and adult-only after dark! Polar Play is a lodge with beautiful wooden features. We enjoyed a slushie (alcoholic sloshies are also available) while we got all bundled up for the ice bar. Polar Play provides a variety of parkas and fun fur coats, plus gloves so that you will stay warm when you enter the frigid fun.
So, I bet you are wondering how cool it is, right?!
22 degrees - all the time!
The bar, benches, and tables are sculpted from ice, as are the cornhole boards and air hockey tables. There are cotton "snow" balls inside so you can enjoy a snowball fight with your kids. The lights and music make the experience even more fun and exciting, and the bar serves a variety of frozen drinks. When you're ready to go, you can spend a few minutes warming up by the fire in the lodge before heading on to your next destination!
Polar Play is family-friendly everyday from 11 am-7 pm, and they offer birthday parties as well!
Humble Pie at OdySea in the Desert
This was not our first time at Humble Pie. We're big fans of their artisan pizzas! We sampled their sausage and pepperoni pizza (a new pizza for us) and it was as delicious as we expected it to be. The chocolate chip cookies were soft and chocolatey and the strawberry added the perfect touch. Their house chardonnay was also delicious if you enjoy an occasional glass of wine (like I do)!
Johnny Rockets at OdySea in the Desert
We have not dined at a Johnny Rockets in a few years. Growing up, there was a Johnny Rockets restaurant at our local mall where we each visited as children. It was really fun to stop in and enjoy an old-fashioned milkshake. The staff at Johnny Rockets were super personable and made our visit even more enjoyable! They serve the best burgers, fries, and milkshakes... and are a perfectly family-friendly dining option on the upper level of OdySea in the Desert.
Other great destinations at OdySea in the Desert
- Arizona Territory Trading Post - A full-line general merchandise store featuring Arizona/Southwest products, gifts and souvenirs including tee shirts, caps, mugs, shot glasses, magnets, key chains, signs, postcards, cactus, Mexican imports, Native American crafted items, salsas, soups, jellies, candies, ceramics and more.
- Frozen Penguin - Create your own amazing Custom Ice Cream Sandwich. Start with homemade cookies and brownies made from scratch daily using family recipes. Pack them with delicious creamy ice cream and then roll it in the tastiest toppings imaginable.
- Nekter Juice Bar - Nekter is known for a healthy way of living, making juices, smoothies and acai bowls with fresh fruits and vegetables. Natural, freshly-made juices, smoothies, acai bowls, or cold pressed juices provides a steady stream of energy (no crash and burn), and feeds the body with live nutrients and enzymes, versus unhealthy, refined sugars and fats.
- OPA Life Cafe - Fresh and delicious Mediterranean cuisine. An age has passed since Zeus gave these great recipes to his children, and OPA Life Greek Cafe is here today to share the unique results. A wellspring of the Mediterranean culture's cuisine, including smooth and pure olive oil, fragrant herbs, the freshest ingredients, and hearty servings come together in every meal.
- Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory - Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is famous for an amazing selection of old fashioned caramel apples as well as a selection of truffles, bears, bark, dipped marshmallows and dipped strawberries and many, many more options.
- The Kakery - Offering masterful culinary confections and delicious bakery items including souvenir cookies, pastries, and barista coffee all in a beautiful vintage/industrial setting. Many of the ingredients are locally sourced. The Kakery can even create wedding cakes (that they're famous for) and other items for special events at OdySea.
- Vitality Oxygen Bar & Aqua Massage - Vitality specializes in aquamassage and oxygen bars services, as well as retail sales of massage equipment ranging from novelties to medical grade TENS!
OdySea in the Desert also provides some great entertainment in their center courtyard. Every second Tuesday you can enjoy a family-friendly movie - the fun starts at 5 pm and the movie starts at 6:30 pm. You'll also find music, Stroller Strides, and other special events on their events page (or on our calendar!). Of course, the main attractions that you probably already know about are: OdySea Aquarium, Butterfly Wonderland, and OdySea Mirror Maze - when you are planning trips to these great destinations (or just about anywhere in North Scottsdale) keep in mind how many amazing local businesses call OdySea home. Consider spending a full day at OdySea in the Desert and experiencing some of the amazing food, shopping and attractions they have to offer.
© 2017 Meg Brunson
Meg is a mommy blogger, Facebook marketer, and much more. She is a mom to four daughters who live in Peoria, AZ and is the local Editor of KidsOutAndAbout Phoenix - helping parents and caregivers find free and affordable things to do with kids, out and about in Arizona. As a former Facebook employee, Meg remains a Facebook addict and handles KidsOutAndAbout.com's Social Media Marketing in addition to running a digital marketing agency at EIEIOMarketing.com.