Top Aquariums in the United States

Who doesn’t love fish? They are colorful, interesting, and each one is unique. The most alien-looking animals on our planet come from the ocean. Fish are weird – and amazing. That is why a trip to the closest aquarium – or a trip to all the aquariums! – is a must for any vacation.

When selecting an aquarium to visit, there are several factors to look for besides the location.

  • What special features do they have?
  • Do they have any large fish, like sharks?
  • Does the venue have any interactive elements – underwater video cameras, touch tanks, arts and crafts?

A great activity for kids and adults, a trip to the aquarium will be a day to remember!

Best Aquariums

There are hundreds of aquariums in the world, and depending on what you are looking for, you can find something that will intrigue the curiosity and imaginations of your family, no matter their age or interests.

New Orleans, LA – Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Located on the edge of the Mississippi River, this underwater world is a maze of colors, sea life, penguins, and otters. Children can touch stingrays, feed parakeets, and enjoy looking at the gigantic sharks swirling through the waters. Take some time to visit the Penguin Exhibit, explore the Geaux Fis! Exhibit, and learn about the Gulf of Mexico.

Baltimore, MD – National Aquarium

This aquarium offers many fantastic opportunities for families. Explore the Amazon Rain Forest and Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibits for a trip into another world. These environmental re-creations stretch from floor to ceiling, and in the open areas, you may cross paths with free-roaming lizards, iguanas, water dragons, sloths, and more.

While you’re here, don’t miss out on the dolphin shows where you can learn hand signals for speaking with the creatures. The aquarium also offers interactive elements such as games, puzzles, touch tanks, and the Weird Animals exhibit featuring unfamiliar creatures.

You and your family may also try the monthly shark sleepovers, daily fish feedings, a behind-the-scenes dolphin tour, or a family eco-bike trek.

Newport, OR – Oregon Coast Aquarium

Walk through a 200-foot underwater tunnel and see 3,500 sea creatures in three different ocean habitats. This experience is both magical and educational. Many features at this aquarium are outdoors on 34 acres next to Yaquina Bay. Surrounded by native woodland, explore the quarter-mile nature trail, a children’s play area, and the wave-crash exhibit which sends 1,200 gallons of water into shallow pools filled with invertebrates every 45 seconds. Butterflies, birds, and sea mammal sculptures are only a few of the amazing sites this aquarium has to offer.

Don’t miss the Ocean Exploration Station. Here, kids can look through a microscope at ocean creatures, dress up in various costumes, sough skills, pelts, eggs, and more, and learn to dissect a squid.

Boston, MA – New England Aquarium

Visit Boston’s 38-year old aquarium and its over 20,000 animals and 600 species. Hug the adorable sculptures of penguins and loggerhead turtles. Take a cruise to visit the United States’ only whale-feeding sanctuary. This northern wonderland is perfect for families, kids, and people of all ages.

Enjoy the penguin path, tide-pool touch tank, and spinning discs that change the color of a tank full of sea jellies.

Tampa, FL – The Florida Aquarium

Fish, water, rides… this outdoor water park is a deluge of fun waiting to happen. Take a wild ride on a 24-foot pirate ship with water cannons, a wave tunnel, and a moray-eel balance beam. Explore the 20,000 aquatic plants and animals such as leafy sea dragons and alligators. The Coral Reef Gallery is modeled after coral formations in the Florida Keys, and includes a walk-through tunnel leading to an underwater cave. Here, experience soldierfish, scorpion fish, and much, much more.

This aquarium offers photo opportunities with alligators, sculptures, aquarium design activities, and a touch tank.

Chicago, IL – John G. Shedd Aquarium

Sharks circle above your head while stingrays swim below your feet – this amazing experience can only be had in Chicago. The elegantly designed aquarium, with fossils embedded in its Beaux Arts-style rotunda, boasts a variety of global habitat re-creations. Enjoy marine mammal presentations – dolphins, beluga whales, and more.

Kids can enjoy costumes, puppets, puppet shows, touch pools, a 4-D theatre, games, animal encounters and more.

Atlanta, GA – Georgia Aquarium

The world’s largest aquarium is located in Atlanta, with over 8 million gallons of water. Experience sea life, gift shops, food, and school programs. The biggest exhibit in the aquarium is called the Ocean Voyager. Featuring over 60,000 animals, it also boasts the only whale sharks in the U.S. A 100-foot-long tunnel surrounds visitors with water on three sides, and touch screen wall teaches kids and families about the fish that swim by.

This amazing aquarium also offers behind-the-scenes tours, touch pools with sharks, rays, and sea urchins, and a 4D theatre.

Riverhead, NY – Atlantis Marine World

The Big Apple awaits with indoor and outdoor exhibits galore. Visit the Lost City of Atlantis, the Amazon Rainforest, Africa’s Lake Malawi, and the Long Island Coast – all inside this amazing aquarium. Outside, be transported to ancient ruins, tropical lagoons, and the shores of South Africa. This trip won’t soon be forgotten.

Also try interactive experiences such as kissing a sea lion, encountering penguins, and snorkeling for pirate treasure.

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