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Aquariums you need to visit!
There are aquariums dotted across the country and most are really good, but the best of the best are an experience not to be missed! We have compiled 13 of the best aquariums in the United States so you can plan your vacations with a little ocean life in it!
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Aquarium of Myrtle Beach
The Ripley’s Believe It or Not Aquarium of Myrtle Beach is a fun and educational experience that is fitting for families with children of all ages. The aquarium is one of the best attractions in Myrtle Beach and is found at Broadway at the Beach. It is home to thousands of sea creatures, including penguins, barracudas, sharks, jellyfish, eels, and countless numbers of exotic fish. But it is the experiences available at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Aquarium that really make it a unique experience.
The aquarium offers a glass bottom boat adventure, which takes you over Dangerous Reef, a section within the museum containing sharks and sea turtles. The aquarium also offers a dive with sharks program that will let you enter the underwater world of the aquarium’s shark species. The rotating conveyor belt through the shark tunnel gives families another unique way to experience these sea creatures.
For a little bit less of a thrilling experience you can also swim with stingrays or enjoy the penguin encounter. These experiences come with extra costs, but they are worth it! The aquarium is also home to a play area, the perfect spot to take a break for families visiting with young children.
Contributed by Melissa at navigationjunkie.com
Get discount tickets to Ripley’s Believe it or Not Aquarium here!
Aquarium of the Pacific
Located in Long Beach, California just outside Los Angeles, the Aquarium of the Pacific is a must-visit! Kids and adults alike will love incredible exhibits on the inside and huge outdoor area with open air touch pools, shows, and Lorikeet forest. There’s something special about seeing aquatic life under the sun and not fluorescent lights.
The well-curated exhibits indoors feature different ecosystems and regions around the world with their respective aquatic animals and plants. One of the best sections is the jelly fish where there are 11 different types including some bioluminescent ones. Also, check out the poison dart frogs, huge aquarium in the center of the lobby, and seahorse exhibit with the super cool leafy sea dragons.
Because the aquarium promotes conservation, kids will learn about environmental preservation, recycling, and the impact of water!
The Aquarium of the Pacific is the perfect day activity from Los Angeles for families.
by Alanna Koritzke from Periodic Adventures
Get skip the line tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific here.
The Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
What makes the best zoos in the world? Well, according to the “Traveler’s Choice” awards by TripAdvisor, the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium have plenty to make any aquarium lover put it at the top of their list.
Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
One of the best aquariums in the US is the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium located near Salt Lake City, Utah. This family friendly aquarium is great for all ages!
Tuki’s island is probably one of the most unique and fun attractions at the aquarium. It does have an additional fee but it is so worth it. This area is for kids. There is a massive playground that your kids could spend hours in. The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is a great way to spend your day!
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California is consistently included into the list of top 10 aquariums in the United States and one of the best attractions in Monterey Bay. It is also one of the most beloved aquariums in the country, so much so that it became an inspiration and for “Finding Dory” animated movie.
Monterey Bay Aquarium is focused on California marine habitats specifically and the Pacific Ocean in general. Here you can see unique California animals and habitats, for instance, sea otters and kelp forests. Another unique exhibit is Beaches and Dunes where you can observe not only sea creatures, such as rays, but also land ones – various types of birds that live along the California coast.
It is a great aquarium to visit for families because it has exhibits and play areas for kids as well as several touch tanks. And I can bet you that every child will be in awe of the adorable and fun sea otters and African penguins – one can sit and watch them play forever. Shark fans will not be disappointed either! There are also many scheduled animal presentations throughout the day.
Monterey Bay Aquarium is overall great because their focus is on education and outreach.
by Tatiana from Family Road Trip Guru
The New York Aquarium
One of the best aquariums in the United States is the New York Aquarium. That’s not because it is the largest or most innovative, but because it is located in New York City!
The New York Aquarium in Brooklyn is located in the neighborhood of Coney Island. This means you can combine a visit to the aquarium with a walk on the boardwalk, amusement park rides and of course, the beach!
While at the aquarium you can check out exhibits with different types of sea life, including the relatively new Shark exhibit! There are excellent exhibits describing the local underwater environment right off the coast of New York. You can also catch a show with sea lions at the Aquatheater, pet starfish and even watch a movie in the 4D theater! The aquarium is a great place to spend about half a day, and is easily accessible by subway from other parts of the city.
It is a great way to make your kids happy when visiting New York City.
by Daphna at atinytrip.com
Get discount tickets to the New York City Aquarium here.
Sarasota, Florida is home to the incredible Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. What makes this a must- see place is that it is more than an aquarium. It is a real laboratory where scientific research happens such as marine immunology, coral reef restoration, a dolphin, whale and turtle hospital, along with tons of other outstanding research programs.
During your visit to the aquarium, guests will marvel at sharks, sea turtles, manatees, along with a multitude of additional sealife. The aquarium has a focus on learning, with an abundance of hands-on exhibits, educational displays, and special presentations.
Touch pools are found throughout the aquarium, allowing guests the opportunity to touch starfish, sea urchin and stingrays. The staff are always nearby to give interesting tidbits about each animal.
Mote consists of many different buildings that your ticket grants you access to. Grab a map or ask an employee for assistance. The special exhibit is typically in a different building than the main aquarium.
Tip: Try to plan your visit for a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday to watch the trainers feed sharks. This happens around 11am and they offer a fun lecture with it.
It is a great place to visit as part of a family friendly Sarasota trip!
The Georgia Aquarium was founded in 2005 and is located in downtown Atlanta, Ga. it was the largest aquarium in the world until 2012 when it became the 3rd largest after after the Marine Life Park in Singapore and the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in China. It still however, remains the largest aquarium in the US with 7 large galleries, a home to hundreds of species and thousands of animals.
There are many different experiences at the aquarium included the newest one, the shark & ray interaction where you will get to go into the water with them! There are also whale sharks, beluga whales, and bottle nose dolphins here which are amazing to see.
General admission costs $34.95 and it is open 7 days a week from 8am to 6pm. Top tip: get the Atlanta City Pass to save and see other Atlanta attractions such as the Coca Cola Museum.
by Contributed by Jackie Rezk of Jou Jou Travels
Get tickets to the Georgia Aquarium here.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
One of the best aquariums we have visited is Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN. The three things that we love most about this aquarium are the piranha with their frightening teeth, the beautiful flowing sea dragons, and transporting through a different world through the tank tunnels.
An exciting exhibit was the piranha, something we hadn’t seen before in an aquarium. We could see their jagged teeth as they swam around their tank. They were mesmerizing to watch, were super-fast, and had glittery silver bodies. In our research, we found out that it was tough to get permission to bring the piranha since the aquarium had to guarantee that the piranha would not escape into the river that surrounds the building.
We also love the sea dragons and enjoyed just watching them float around for a while. The colors were beautiful in the tank, and they were funny chasing each other.
The best part of the aquarium was the tank tunnel. It was huge, and we saw sharks and so many different types of fish that it was like being in the ocean. We were able to go through tunnels many times and saw something different each time.
by Krystee Dryer of Vacation Geeks
Wonders of Wildlife
One of the best aquariums in the United States is Wonders Of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri.
What makes it special is that it was voted the “Best Aquarium and Best New Attraction” by USA Today readers. This magnificent aquarium is spread across 350,000 square feet with over one and a half miles of trails to be traversed. It’s an unforgettable trip for families because there are several exhibits and galleries to explore. In fact, Wonders of Wildlife features over 800 species.
Start off in Wildlife Galleries where you’ll see incredible 4D structures of the world’s most prominent wildlife habitats. Some of the best exhibits to see in this area are Bucks and Bulls, the Lewis and Clark Collection, Native American Hall, and Theodore Roosevelt’s Cabin.
Next, head to Aquarium Adventure and take a look at the marine life that inhabits the oceans, rivers, and lakes. The coolest exhibits here include the Great Ocean Hall, Great Barrier Reef, Shipwreck Reef, the Amazon Rainforest, and River Monsters.
Lastly, be sure to check out the special exhibits. These are temporary and they come from all around the world.
New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium is a great place to go too! The aquarium there has an exhibit in which visitors can touch starfish and sea urchins, as well as other types of animals they might not have seen before. There is also a seal habitat – Sea Cliffs- that allows you to see these wonderful creatures up close and personal and capture the perfect photo for your memory book.
The Imax theater offers movies that are educational and entertaining. You can also enjoy lots of daily meet and greets with sea life.
The New England Aquarium is located in Boston and is a fabulous stop on your tour of Boston!
Get skip the line tickets for the New England Aquarium.
The Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium has a Children’s Gallery that provides interactive experiences for kids to learn about ocean life. Attached to the Shedd museum is the Abbott Oceanarium which houses their famous beluga whales.
Their famous Caribbean reef is home to more than 600 different species of tropical fish, invertebrates and corals in one huge tank! We have seen sea turtles up close at this aquarium many times – they are truly captivating creatures!
If you are visiting Chicago, the Shedd Museum and Aquarium are must sees!
Get discount tickets to the Shedd Aquarium here!
Hawaii’s Waikiki Aquarium
Hawaii’s Waikiki Aquarium has been open since 1903 making it America’s oldest public aquarium! It features over 500 exhibits including many freshwater tanks stocked with brightly colored tropical fish, turtles, and other sealife.
The Edge of the Reef exhibit recreates Pacific Ocean life as it is in the wild and allows scientists to study fish in a simulated environment.
This aquarium also has a touch tank that allows visitors to feel starfish up close!
The Tennessee Aquarium
The Tennessee Aqaurium is home to some of the most colorful fish in America! The coral reef tank is so realistic, you can’t tell where it starts and ends. Their huge Imax shows the latest and greatest in wildlife films.
The even offer summer camp at the aquarium so your little “marine biologists in-training” can learn from sealife.
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium in Jacksonville has a dolphin show and touch tank, sea lion shows, the largest salt water tank in Florida with sharks, stingrays, eels and other marine life. It is unique because they offer wild dolphin tours and an opportunity to get up close and personal with seals.
This one-of-a-kind facility features large sharks and other creatures that live outside their natural habitats like piranhas and eels. Visitors can touch some animals including stingrays, starfish, jellyfish and even horseshoe crabs!
Since 1930 this has been the only public aquarium in America with an open ocean tank where you can see things from above or below water level…all day long if you want!
Get skip the line tickets to the Florida Aquarium here.
The National Aquarium
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is home to 20,000 animals including seahorses, octopuses, barracudas, piranhas- even little clown fish! They have special exhibits on conservation efforts too so it really feels like we’re making progress as humans by saving these beautiful creatures.
You can also see 4d movies about ocean life in their awesome interactive theater.
The National Aquarium is located close to Washington DC and is a great day trip from D.C.
Mystic Aquarium is a huge aquarium in Connecticut. It’s home to everything from sea turtles and seahorses, to tropical fish- including the elusive whale shark! You can even touch rays at Mystic Aquarium because they have two interactive areas where visitors are allowed pet them.
They have the only beluga whales in New England, and they’re so spectacular- you’ll definitely want to see them.
Mystic is well suited for kids of all ages and can be visited year round. It is worth a trip to Connecticut!
I hope this inspires you to take a trip to your nearest aquarium! It doesn’t have to be one of the best aquariums in the United States to love it. You will learn tons and have a wonderful afternoon with the family!
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