Best Aquariums in the US for Family Fun

best aquariums in the us

Welcome to an underwater adventure like no other! In this article, I’ll take you on a journey to discover the best aquariums in the United States where families can explore the wonders of the underwater world together. From massive tanks teeming with marine life to interactive exhibits and unique experiences, these aquariums offer an educational and exciting outing that the whole family will enjoy.

Whether you’re captivated by the majestic beauty of whale sharks, the playful antics of sea otters, or the vibrant colors of coral reefs, these aquariums are sure to leave you in awe. Get ready to dive into a world filled with marine creatures from all corners of the globe, right here in the USA.

So, grab your snorkel and let’s embark on a virtual tour of the top 10 best aquariums in the country. From the East Coast to the West Coast, we’ll explore each aquarium’s unique features, exhibits, and experiences that make them a must-visit for families seeking an unforgettable aquatic adventure.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the top 10 best aquariums in the United States for family-friendly fun.
  • Experience the wonders of the underwater world through interactive exhibits and unique activities.
  • Learn about marine life conservation and research efforts at renowned aquariums.
  • Explore diverse ecosystems, from freshwater habitats to the marine life of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Create lifelong memories with your family as you marvel at sharks, sea turtles, penguins, and more.

Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta, Georgia)

The Georgia Aquarium, located in Atlanta, Georgia, holds the prestigious title of being the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. With over 10 million gallons of water and more than 100,000 animals representing an astounding 500 species, it offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

One of the Georgia Aquarium’s most iconic exhibits is the Ocean Voyager, where you can immerse yourself in the wonders of the underwater world. Here, you’ll find awe-inspiring creatures such as whale sharks, the largest fish species in the world, as well as majestic manta rays and thousands of other mesmerizing marine animals.

Georgia Aquarium

  • Over 10 million gallons of water
  • More than 100,000 animals
  • Representing 500 species

As you explore the Georgia Aquarium, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the beauty and diversity of the ocean’s inhabitants. From vibrant tropical fish to playful dolphins and adorable penguins, every turn reveals another fascinating marine marvel.

Whether you’re a marine enthusiast, a family seeking an educational adventure, or simply someone looking for a captivating experience, the Georgia Aquarium should be at the top of your must-visit list. Prepare to be amazed by the sheer scale and extraordinary biodiversity that can be found within the confines of this incredible aquatic wonderland.

Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, California)

Nestled on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is renowned for its dedication to marine conservation and research. With a mission to inspire ocean conservation, the aquarium plays a crucial role in protecting the marine ecosystem.

Home to over 35,000 animals from 550 species, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers visitors an immersive experience into the diverse underwater world. You’ll encounter adorable sea otters, playful penguins, and majestic sharks.

One of the standout attractions is the awe-inspiring 1.2-million-gallon Open Sea exhibit. Step into a world teeming with marine life, including tunas, sea turtles, and swirling schools of fish. Immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of the ocean as you watch these incredible creatures glide through the water.

Marine life at Monterey Bay Aquarium

But it’s not just about showcasing marine life. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is actively involved in marine conservation and research efforts. With their research programs, they aim to better understand the ocean and find solutions for protecting delicate marine ecosystems.

Visitors can also learn about sustainable seafood practices and how their choices impact the health of the oceans. Through interactive exhibits and educational programs, the Monterey Bay Aquarium inspires individuals to make a positive difference in marine conservation.

Plan your visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium today and immerse yourself in the wonders of the ocean while supporting their important work in marine conservation and research.

Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, Illinois)

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is a captivating destination for marine enthusiasts of all ages. With its diverse range of exhibits showcasing marine life from around the world, the aquarium offers a truly immersive experience. Featuring over 32,000 aquatic animals, visitors can explore the wonders of the underwater world.

One of the highlights at the Shedd Aquarium is the Amazon Rising exhibit, which takes visitors on a journey through the diverse ecosystems of the Amazon rainforest. From vibrant fish to fascinating reptiles, this exhibit provides a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of the region.

Another must-see exhibit is the Caribbean Reef, where visitors can observe colorful coral reefs and encounter a variety of tropical marine species. With its stunning underwater landscapes and vibrant inhabitants, this exhibit offers a truly mesmerizing experience.

In addition to the exhibits, the Shedd Aquarium also presents an exciting aquatic show featuring dolphins and sea lions. This engaging performance allows visitors to witness the incredible abilities of these intelligent and graceful marine mammals.

Shedd Aquarium

With its commitment to education, conservation, and research, the Shedd Aquarium ensures that visitors not only have a memorable experience but also gain a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving our marine ecosystems. Whether you’re a sea enthusiast or simply looking for a fun family outing, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is a must-visit destination.

National Aquarium (Baltimore, Maryland)

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is a must-visit attraction for families seeking engaging exhibits and unique experiences. One of the highlights is the Blacktip Reef exhibit, where visitors can marvel at the stunning coral habitats and observe a variety of marine species, including blacktip reef sharks and stingrays.

Another captivating exhibit at the National Aquarium is the Amazon River Forest. Step into the lush greenery and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the Amazon rainforest. Encounter fascinating species such as piranhas, poison dart frogs, and tree boas as you explore this vibrant and diverse ecosystem.

But it doesn’t end there. The National Aquarium offers an array of exciting and immersive experiences that are sure to delight the whole family. How about spending a night surrounded by the wonders of the underwater world? The Sleepover with the Sharks program allows guests of all ages to camp out in the aquarium and fall asleep to the enchanting sights of swimming sharks and graceful sea turtles (be sure to bring your sleeping bags!).

If you’re in the mood for some movie magic, the National Aquarium’s 4D Immersion Theater is the perfect place to go. Put on your 3D glasses and get ready to be transported into a world of underwater adventures. Feel the ocean breeze, get splashed with water, and experience the thrill of marine life in a way you’ve never seen before.

National Aquarium

Experience the wonder of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where engaging exhibits and unique experiences await. Whether you’re a marine enthusiast or simply looking for a fun and educational adventure, the National Aquarium offers something for everyone.

Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga, Tennessee)

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga offers a captivating experience for families, with its two distinct buildings showcasing different habitats. The River Journey building immerses visitors in freshwater habitats, while the Ocean Journey building transports them to the mesmerizing world of marine life.

The River Journey building takes visitors on a journey through the diverse ecosystems found in freshwater habitats. From the iconic Appalachian Cove Forest to the lively Tennessee River gallery, visitors can explore the rich biodiversity of the region. The highlight of this building is the massive Secret Reef exhibit, home to fascinating creatures like the colorful reef fish and mesmerizing stingrays.

In contrast, the Ocean Journey building offers a glimpse into the wonders of the ocean. Visitors can walk through a tunnel surrounded by sharks, penguins, and other marine creatures in the Penguins’ Rock exhibit. The Lemur Forest takes visitors into the lush rainforests of Madagascar, where they can observe playful lemurs up close. The Ocean Journey building also features the Seahorse Gallery, showcasing these unique and delicate creatures in their natural habitats.

With over 12,000 animals, including river otters, penguins, and sharks, the Tennessee Aquarium captivates visitors of all ages. Families can participate in educational programs, watch captivating animal presentations, and embark on interactive experiences like petting stingrays. The aquarium is committed to conservation and offers opportunities for visitors to learn about the importance of protecting and preserving aquatic environments.

Tennessee Aquarium

In summary, the Tennessee Aquarium is a must-visit destination that allows families to explore the diverse habitats and marine life of both freshwater and ocean environments. Whether you’re fascinated by river otters, mesmerized by penguins, or in awe of sharks, this aquarium offers a truly immersive and educational experience.

The Florida Aquarium (Tampa, Florida)

The Florida Aquarium in Tampa offers a diverse array of exhibits showcasing aquatic life. With over 9,000 animals, including sea turtles, sharks, and stingrays, visitors can immerse themselves in the wonders of the underwater world.

The Florida Aquarium

One of the highlights of the Florida Aquarium is the interactive touch tank, where visitors can get up close and personal with marine creatures such as starfish and horseshoe crabs. This hands-on experience allows for a deeper understanding of the fascinating features and behaviors of these unique animals.

In addition to the diverse exhibits, the Florida Aquarium offers behind-the-scenes tours for those looking to have a more in-depth experience. These tours provide a behind-the-scenes look at areas normally off-limits to the public, giving visitors a chance to learn about the aquarium’s conservation efforts and the care provided to its residents.

Exploring the Florida Aquarium is not only educational but also entertaining for the whole family. The vibrant and colorful displays captivate visitors of all ages, making it an ideal destination for a fun-filled day out.

Whether you’re interested in observing graceful sea turtles, marveling at the stealth and power of sharks, or getting hands-on with fascinating marine life, the Florida Aquarium has something for everyone. It’s a truly immersive experience that brings the wonders of the ocean to life.

Seattle Aquarium (Seattle, Washington)

Situated on Pier 59 in downtown Seattle, the Seattle Aquarium is a must-visit attraction showcasing the mesmerizing marine life of the Pacific Northwest. As you step inside, you’ll be immersed in a world of wonders, where you can explore the diverse ecosystems and fascinating creatures that call this region home.

At the Seattle Aquarium, you’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of marine species, including awe-inspiring sea otters, playful harbor seals, and elusive giant Pacific octopuses. These remarkable creatures are a testament to the incredible biodiversity found in the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

One of the highlights of the Seattle Aquarium is the Window on Washington Waters exhibit. Here, you can marvel at the vibrant array of fish, invertebrates, and plants that inhabit the diverse marine ecosystems of the region. This exhibit offers a unique opportunity to witness the intricate web of life that exists beneath the surface of the water.

Whether you’re a marine enthusiast or simply looking for a fun and educational experience for the whole family, the Seattle Aquarium is sure to captivate and inspire. With its commitment to conservation, research, and education, this world-class facility provides a valuable platform for understanding and appreciating the delicate balance of our oceans.

Seattle Aquarium showcasing marine life of the Pacific Northwest

Prepare to be amazed as you embark on a journey through the Seattle Aquarium, where the wonders of the Pacific Northwest marine life await. From breathtaking exhibits to interactive educational programs, this is an experience you won’t want to miss.

New England Aquarium (Boston, Massachusetts)

The New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts, is an incredible destination that offers a captivating underwater experience for the whole family.

One of the main highlights of the aquarium is its four-story Giant Ocean Tank, which is home to over 20,000 mesmerizing marine creatures. Visitors can marvel at the diverse array of animals, including majestic sea turtles, adorable penguins, and awe-inspiring sharks.

In addition to the breathtaking exhibits, the New England Aquarium also features an immersive Simons Theatre, where visitors can enjoy 3D and 4D films that bring the aquatic world to life. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn and be entertained simultaneously.

No visit to Boston would be complete without exploring the wonders of the New England Aquarium. Whether you’re a marine enthusiast or simply looking for a fun and educational experience, this iconic aquarium is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Are these aquariums suitable for family outings?

Yes, all of these aquariums offer family-friendly experiences and educational programs, making them ideal for family outings.

What are some unique experiences offered by these aquariums?

The National Aquarium in Baltimore offers experiences like sleeping with sharks and participating in immersive 4D films. Other aquariums may offer behind-the-scenes tours and interactive touch tanks.

Can visitors see popular marine species like sharks, sea turtles, and penguins at these aquariums?

Yes, these aquariums house a variety of marine species, including sharks, sea turtles, penguins, and many more.

Do any of these aquariums focus on marine conservation and research?

Yes, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California is renowned for its dedication to marine conservation and research.

What is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere?

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, holds this distinction, showcasing over 10 million gallons of water and thousands of marine animals.