Top 10 Aquariums in the US to Visit

Jul 18, 2023 | Zoo Discovery Series

Photo by Tim B Motivv on Unsplash

Explore the Best of Underwater Life

Aquariums are fascinating places that allow you to observe and learn about the underwater world. From the colorful coral reefs to the mysterious depths of the ocean, aquariums offer a glimpse into the diverse marine life that exists on our planet. The United States is home to some of the best aquariums in the world, attracting millions of visitors every year.

In this article, we will explore the top 10 aquariums in the US that are worth visiting. We will take a closer look at the exhibits, attractions, and unique features that make each aquarium stand out. Whether you are a marine enthusiast, a family with kids, or a traveler looking for a fun and educational experience, these aquariums offer something for everyone. So, let’s dive in and discover the wonders of the underwater world!

The Importance of Aquariums

Aquariums are not just a place to view marine life; they serve a vital role in conservation, education, and research. They provide a unique opportunity for visitors to learn about the importance of protecting our oceans and the species that inhabit them. Here are a few reasons why aquariums are important:

Conservation

Many aquariums are involved in conservation efforts to protect marine life and their habitats. They work closely with researchers and conservationists to study and protect endangered species. For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has a Sea Otter Program that rescues and rehabilitates stranded sea otters and conducts research to better understand the species.

Education

Aquariums provide an educational experience for visitors of all ages. They offer interactive exhibits and programs that teach visitors about marine life, their habitats, and the importance of conservation. Many aquariums have educational programs for schools and offer field trips to students.

Wildlife

Aquariums provide a safe and controlled environment for marine life that may not be able to survive in the wild. They also provide a home for injured or rescued animals that are unable to be released back into the wild. For example, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta has a program that rescues and rehabilitates sea turtles and provides a permanent home for those that are unable to be released.

Marine Life

Aquariums provide a unique opportunity to view marine life up close and learn about their behaviors and habitats. They also allow researchers to study marine life in a controlled environment, which can provide valuable insights into their behavior and biology.

Species

Many aquariums focus on specific species or groups of animals, such as sharks or jellyfish. They provide a platform for researchers to study these animals and educate the public about their importance in the ecosystem.

In summary, aquariums play a crucial role in conservation, education, and research. They provide a unique opportunity to view and learn about marine life while promoting the importance of protecting our oceans and the species that inhabit them.

Top 10 Aquariums in the US

If you’re a fan of marine life, you’re in luck! The US is home to some of the best aquariums in the world. Here are the top 10 aquariums in the US that you should definitely visit:

Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta

The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the US and is home to over 100,000 animals. It features a variety of exhibits, including the Ocean Voyager exhibit, which has a 6.3 million-gallon tank and is home to whale sharks, manta rays, and other large fish. The aquarium also has a dolphin show, a sea lion show, and a 4D theater.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located in Monterey, California, and is home to over 35,000 animals. It has a variety of exhibits, including the Kelp Forest exhibit, which has a 28-foot-tall tank and is home to a variety of fish and marine mammals. The aquarium also has a sea otter exhibit, a penguin exhibit, and a jellyfish exhibit.

National Aquarium, Baltimore

The National Aquarium is located in Baltimore, Maryland, and is home to over 20,000 animals. It features a variety of exhibits, including the Blacktip Reef exhibit, which has a 260,000-gallon tank and is home to blacktip reef sharks, stingrays, and other fish. The aquarium also has a dolphin show, a sea turtle exhibit, and a rainforest exhibit.

Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

The Shedd Aquarium is located in Chicago, Illinois, and is home to over 32,000 animals. It has a variety of exhibits, including the Abbott Oceanarium, which has a 400,000-gallon tank and is home to beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and sea otters. The aquarium also has a penguin exhibit, a shark exhibit, and a coral reef exhibit.

Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga

The Tennessee Aquarium is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is home to over 12,000 animals. It features a variety of exhibits, including the River Journey exhibit, which has a 130,000-gallon tank and is home to freshwater fish found in the Tennessee River. The aquarium also has a butterfly exhibit, a penguin exhibit, and a saltwater exhibit.

New England Aquarium

The New England Aquarium is located in Boston, Massachusetts, and is home to over 20,000 animals. It has a variety of exhibits, including the Giant Ocean Tank, which has a 200,000-gallon tank and is home to Myrtle, a 90-year-old sea turtle. The aquarium also has a penguin exhibit, a shark and ray touch tank, and a harbor seal exhibit.

Mystic Aquarium

The Mystic Aquarium is located in Mystic, Connecticut, and is home to over 5,000 animals. It features a variety of exhibits, including the Arctic Coast exhibit, which has a 150,000-gallon tank and is home to beluga whales, Arctic fish, and other marine mammals. The aquarium also has a sea lion exhibit, a penguin exhibit, and a jellyfish exhibit.

Newport Aquarium

The Newport Aquarium is located in Newport, Kentucky, and is home to over 70 exhibits. It features a variety of exhibits, including the Shark Bridge exhibit, which is a 75-foot-long rope bridge that hangs over a tank filled with sharks. The aquarium also has a penguin exhibit, a seahorse exhibit, and a jellyfish exhibit.

Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium is located in Tampa, Florida, and is home to over 14,000 animals. It features a variety of exhibits, including the Coral Reef exhibit, which has a 500,000-gallon tank and is home to a variety of fish and marine mammals. The aquarium also has a penguin exhibit, a shark exhibit, and a touch tank.

Texas State Aquarium

The Texas State Aquarium is located in Corpus Christi, Texas, and is home to over 320 species of animals. It features a variety of exhibits, including the Hawn Wild Flight Theater, which has a bird show featuring hawks, owls, and other birds of prey. The aquarium also has a dolphin exhibit, a sea turtle exhibit, and a stingray touch tank.

These aquariums are some of the best in the US and offer a variety of exhibits and shows that are sure to entertain and educate visitors of all ages.

Unique Attractions at Each Aquarium

Aquariums are a great place to see a wide variety of marine animals up close. Each aquarium has its own unique attractions that make it stand out. Here are some of the unique attractions at the top 10 aquariums in the US to visit:

  1. Georgia Aquarium: The Georgia Aquarium is home to the largest aquarium habitat in the world. Visitors can see whale sharks, manta rays, and other large marine animals up close in the massive tank. The aquarium also has a dolphin show and a behind-the-scenes tour.
  2. Monterey Bay Aquarium: The Monterey Bay Aquarium is known for its sea otters. Visitors can watch the playful otters swim and play in their habitat. The aquarium also has a giant octopus, jellyfish, and a kelp forest exhibit.
  3. Shedd Aquarium: The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has a unique exhibit called the “Amazon Rising” that showcases the flora and fauna of the Amazon River. Visitors can see piranhas, caimans, and other freshwater animals. The aquarium also has a penguin exhibit and a shark tunnel.
  4. Newport Aquarium: The Newport Aquarium in Kentucky has a unique exhibit called “Gator Alley” that features alligators and other reptiles. Visitors can also see penguins, otters, and a shark bridge that allows them to walk over a tank full of sharks.
  5. Aquarium of the Pacific: The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California has a large exhibit called the “Pacific Visions” that showcases the impact of humans on the ocean. Visitors can also see sea lions, penguins, and a jellyfish exhibit.
  6. Mystic Aquarium: The Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut is home to beluga whales. Visitors can watch the majestic whales swim and play in their habitat. The aquarium also has a sea lion show and a behind-the-scenes tour.
  7. SeaWorld San Diego: SeaWorld San Diego is known for its dolphin and sea lion shows. Visitors can also see penguins, sharks, and a coral reef exhibit. The park also has a 4D theater and a roller coaster.
  8. SEA LIFE Orlando: SEA LIFE Orlando is home to a giant Pacific octopus. Visitors can also see sea turtles, rays, and a coral reef exhibit. The aquarium also has a behind-the-scenes tour and a touch tank.
  9. Miami Seaquarium: The Miami Seaquarium is known for its dolphin and sea lion shows. Visitors can also see manatees, sea turtles, and a shark lagoon exhibit. The park also has a behind-the-scenes tour and a touch tank.
  10. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas: The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans has a unique exhibit called the “Living in Water” that showcases the marine animals of the Gulf of Mexico. Visitors can also see penguins, sea otters, and a Caribbean reef exhibit.

Overall, each aquarium has its own unique attractions that make it worth visiting. Visitors can see everything from beluga whales to sea otters to giant octopuses. With so much to see and do, aquariums are a great place to learn about marine animals and their habitats.

Additional Activities and Experiences

In addition to viewing the fascinating sea life and habitats, many of the top aquariums in the US offer a variety of additional activities and experiences for visitors to enjoy.

For those who love to swim, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta offers the unique opportunity to swim or dive with whale sharks, manta rays, and other marine life in their Ocean Voyager exhibit. The Newport Aquarium in Kentucky also offers a similar experience with their Shark Bridge, where visitors can walk across a suspension bridge above a tank filled with sharks.

If you’re looking for a beach experience, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Tampa, Florida is located right on the Gulf of Mexico and offers a beautiful beach area for visitors to relax and soak up the sun. The Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport, Mississippi also offers a beach area with a splash pad for kids to play in.

Many aquariums also provide opportunities for visitors to learn about ongoing research and conservation efforts. The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland has a Marine Animal Rescue Program that rescues and rehabilitates stranded marine animals, while the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey offers behind-the-scenes tours to learn about their animal care and research programs.

For those interested in spending the night, the Georgia Aquarium offers a sleepover program where guests can spend the night in the aquarium and participate in activities such as a behind-the-scenes tour and a scavenger hunt. The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago also offers a similar program called “Asleep with the Fishes.”

During the summer months, many aquariums offer special events and activities for visitors to enjoy. The Seattle Aquarium in Washington hosts a summer concert series, while the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, Louisiana has a “Scales and Ales” event featuring live music, beer, and food.

No matter what your interests are, aquariums across North America and Asia offer a wide range of additional activities and experiences for visitors to enjoy.

Aquariums and Children

Aquariums are a great place to visit with children. It is an opportunity for kids to learn about different marine animals and their habitats. Here are some reasons why aquariums are a great place to visit with children:

  • Interactive Learning: Aquariums offer interactive learning opportunities for children. They can touch and feel different marine animals, participate in feeding sessions, and watch live shows. These activities make learning fun and engaging for kids.
  • Educational Experience: Aquariums are a great place to learn about marine life and their habitats. Children can learn about different species, their behaviors, and how they interact with their environment. This helps children develop an understanding and appreciation for the marine ecosystem.
  • Entertainment: Aquariums offer entertainment for children of all ages. From watching sharks swim overhead to petting stingrays, there is always something exciting to see and do at an aquarium.
  • Family Bonding: Visiting an aquarium is a great way to bond with your family. It is a fun and educational experience that everyone can enjoy together. Children can ask questions and learn from their parents, while parents can share their knowledge and experiences with their children.

When visiting an aquarium with children, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Here are some tips to make your visit more enjoyable:

  • Plan Ahead: Check the aquarium’s website for information on hours, admission prices, and special events. Plan your visit accordingly to avoid crowds and long lines.
  • Bring Snacks and Water: Aquariums can be tiring for children, so be sure to bring snacks and water to keep them energized throughout the day.
  • Dress Comfortably: Make sure your children are dressed comfortably for the day. Wear comfortable shoes, as there may be a lot of walking involved.
  • Take Breaks: Take frequent breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. This will help prevent children from getting tired and cranky.

Overall, aquariums are a great place to visit with children. They offer a fun and educational experience that the whole family can enjoy together.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many wonderful aquariums to visit in the United States. From the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, each aquarium offers a unique experience for visitors of all ages.

Whether you are interested in learning about marine life, seeing rare species up close, or simply enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, there is an aquarium on this list that will suit your interests.

When planning your next vacation or day trip, consider visiting one of these top aquariums in the US. With their stunning exhibits, knowledgeable staff, and commitment to conservation, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience.

Remember to check each aquarium’s website for hours of operation, ticket prices, and special events. And don’t forget to share your photos and experiences on social media using the aquarium’s designated hashtag. Happy exploring!

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