Aquariums offer a unique and educational experience for families to explore the wonders of the underwater world. From colorful fish and playful sea mammals to informative exhibits and interactive touch tanks, these attractions provide hours of entertainment and learning opportunities. In this blog post, we will share our top 10 best aquariums in the United States for a family-friendly adventure. Each of these best aquariums promises an unforgettable experience, showcasing the beauty and diversity of marine life from across the globe.
Top 10 Best Aquariums
1. Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta, Georgia)
The Georgia Aquarium is not only one of the best aquariums in the United States but also the largest in the Western Hemisphere. With over 10 million gallons of water and more than 100,000 animals representing 500 species, this massive aquarium offers an immersive experience for visitors. Highlights include the Ocean Voyager exhibit, home to whale sharks, manta rays, and thousands of other marine animals, and the Cold Water Quest exhibit, featuring beluga whales and sea otters.
- Largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere
- Home to whale sharks, manta rays, and beluga whales
- Offers a variety of interactive and educational experiences
2. Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, California)
Nestled on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a renowned institution dedicated to marine conservation and research. This best aquarium is home to more than 35,000 animals, including sea otters, penguins, sharks, and countless species of fish. The Open Sea exhibit features a breathtaking 1.2-million-gallon tank, providing a mesmerizing window into the depths of the open ocean.
- Dedicated to marine conservation and research
- Features a 1.2-million-gallon Open Sea exhibit
- Home to sea otters, penguins, sharks, and more
3. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, Illinois)
The Shedd Aquarium, located in Chicago’s Museum Campus, is one of the best aquariums in the country, housing over 32,000 aquatic animals. The aquarium’s diverse exhibits showcase marine life from around the world, including the Amazon Rising exhibit, the Caribbean Reef exhibit, and the Abbott Oceanarium, which focuses on marine mammals and sea birds. Don’t miss the aquatic show featuring dolphins, sea lions, and other marine animals performing impressive tricks and behaviors.
- Located in Chicago’s Museum Campus
- Features diverse exhibits showcasing marine life from around the world
- Offers an exciting aquatic show with dolphins and sea lions
4. National Aquarium (Baltimore, Maryland)
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is a must-visit destination for marine enthusiasts of all ages. This best aquarium boasts over 20,000 animals representing 800 species, housed in engaging exhibits like Blacktip Reef, which recreates a Pacific coral reef, and the Amazon River Forest, showcasing the diverse life found in the Amazon River. The aquarium also offers unique experiences, such as the opportunity to sleepover with sharks or participate in an immersive 4D film.
- Over 20,000 animals and 800 species
- Features engaging exhibits like Blacktip Reef and Amazon River Forest
- Offers unique experiences like sleeping with sharks and 4D films
5. Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
Located in Chattanooga, the Tennessee Aquarium is a popular attraction for families visiting the Southeast. This best aquarium is divided into two buildings: the River Journey building, which focuses on freshwater habitats, and the Ocean Journey building, which highlights marine life. The aquarium is home to over 12,000 animals, including river otters, penguins, and an impressive collection of sharks and rays.
- Divided into two buildings: River Journey and Ocean Journey
- Home to over 12,000 animals, including river otters, penguins, and sharks
- Offers a variety of educational programs and experiences for families
6. The Florida Aquarium (Tampa, Florida)
The Florida Aquarium, located in Tampa, offers a diverse array of exhibits and experiences that showcase the beauty and importance of aquatic life. This best aquarium is home to more than 9,000 animals, including sea turtles, sharks, and stingrays. The Wetlands Trail exhibit highlights Florida’s native species, while the Coral Reef exhibit takes visitors on a journey through a breathtaking underwater ecosystem.
- Home to more than 9,000 animals
- Features exhibits like the Wetlands Trail and Coral Reef
- Offers interactive experiences, including a touch tank and behind-the-scenes tours
7. Seattle Aquarium (Seattle, Washington)
Situated on Pier 59 in downtown Seattle, the Seattle Aquarium offers a fascinating look into the marine life of the Pacific Northwest. This best aquarium is home to a variety of species, including sea otters, harbor seals, and giant Pacific octopuses. The Window on Washington Waters exhibit showcases a 120,000-gallon tank that replicates the underwater environment of the Washington coast, providing a glimpse of the diverse marine life found in the region.
- Located on Pier 59 in downtown Seattle
- Home to sea otters, harbor seals, and giant Pacific octopuses
- Features the Window on Washington Waters exhibit
8. New England Aquarium (Boston, Massachusetts)
The New England Aquarium in Boston is a must-visit attraction for families exploring the historic city. This best aquarium is home to over 20,000 animals, including sea turtles, penguins, and sharks. The centerpiece of the aquarium is the four-story Giant Ocean Tank, which houses a Caribbean coral reef ecosystem teeming with marine life. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Simons Theatre, where visitors can watch 3D and 4D films that offer an immersive underwater experience.
- Home to over 20,000 animals
- Features a four-story Giant Ocean Tank
- Offers 3D and 4D films in the Simons Theatre
9. Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, California)
Located in Long Beach, the Aquarium of the Pacific showcases the marine life of the Pacific Ocean. This best aquarium is home to more than 11,000 animals, including sea lions, penguins, and a variety of fish and invertebrates. The Tropical Pacific Gallery offers a stunning display of vibrant coral reefs, while the June Keyes Penguin Habitat provides an up-close encounter with Magellanic penguins.
- Home to more than 11,000 animals
- Features exhibits like the Tropical Pacific Gallery and June Keyes Penguin Habitat
- Offers a variety of educational programs and special events
10. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (New Orleans, Louisiana)
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, located in New Orleans, offers an engaging and interactive experience for visitors of all ages. This best aquarium is home to over 3,600 animals, including sea otters, penguins, and a variety of fish and invertebrates. The Gulf of Mexico exhibit features a 400,000-gallon tank, showcasing the diverse marine life found in the region. Visitors can also enjoy hands-on experiences at the touch pool, where they can interact with stingrays and horseshoe crabs.
- Home to over 3,600 animals
- Features the Gulf of Mexico exhibit and a touch pool
- Provides a variety of interactive experiences and educational programs
The United States is home to some of the best aquariums in the world, offering visitors a chance to explore the wonders of the underwater world without getting wet. From coast to coast, these top