The best aquariums in America offer extraordinary views of the interesting underwater creatures that you won’t normally see.
To be in the presence of magical creatures that you never knew existed or witness the sea creatures that you only see on television or the internet brings that delightful wonder.
The United States is home to some of the best aquariums in the world. If you want to visit most if not all of them, we will help you start with only the best aquariums in the United States.
We have searched for all the favorite aquariums in the US. These aquariums have the most fascinating displays and will be worth your time.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at all the best aquariums in the U.S that will give you one of the most memorable trips ever.
18. New England Aquarium, Boston Massachusetts
Location: 1 Central Wharf, Boston
The New England Aquarium is another remarkable aquarium in the US. With over 1.3 million visitors annually, this is one of the most popular attractions in Boston and should be on your list of aquariums in the US to visit.
The New England Aquarium features an IMAX theater, a penguin exhibit, a shark and ray touch tank, and many more. They also have a 4D theater that shows films with sensory effects such as wind, water, and scents.
Some of their most popular attractions are the African penguins, the Atlantic harbor seals, the giant ocean tank, and the tropical fish display.
New England Aquarium is also an active player in marine life conservation. They have research programs that aim to protect endangered species and their habitats.
17. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Illinois
Location: 1200 S DuSable Lake Shore Dr., Chicago
Shedd Aquarium is one of the most popular aquariums in the U.S and one of the top tourist destinations in Chicago. It is the largest indoor aquarium in the world with diverse animals.
The Shedd Aquarium features an aquatic show, a 4D theater, a polar play zone, an Amazon rising exhibit, and many more. The aquatic show is a must-see where you can get up close with dolphins, beluga whales, and other sea creatures.
As one of the best aquariums in the Midwest, there are amazing popular attractions that you should not miss including the Amazon Rising exhibit, the Caribbean Reef exhibit, the Wild Reef exhibit, and the Polar Play Zone.
The Shedd Aquarium is also an active player in marine life conservation with its research programs that aim to protect endangered species and their habitats.
16. Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi Texas
Location: 2710 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi
The Texas State Aquarium is also on the list of the best aquariums in the US. This aquarium is located in Corpus Christi, Texas with a massive number of animals that call this place home.
This zoo and aquarium feature an Atlantic Shark Exhibit, Caribbean Sea Exhibit, Flower Garden Banks Exhibit, Island of the Dragons Exhibit, and more.
You can watch presentations like Animal Encounters, Dolphin Presentations, Sea Lion Presentations, and more.
You can also join in on their animal encounters where you can get up close and personal with sharks, stingrays, sea lions, and more. And if you’re feeling brave enough, you can even dive with sharks!
The Texas State Aquarium is also home to many rescue animals that have been injured or orphaned. They have a state-of-the-art rescue center that has helped over 3,000 animals in need.
If you want to learn more about the animals, you can join one of their many behind-the-scenes tours like the Trainer for a Day program, Aquarist Experience, Animal Care Experience, and more.
15. North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach North Carolina
Location: 900 Loggerhead Rd, Kure Beach
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is one of the best aquariums on America’s East Coast. Situated near Wilmington, this place is a favorite spot for family vacations.
This top aquarium in the US features an Aquatica Exhibit, Bamboo Shark Exhibit, Butterfly Bungalow, Crocodile Cove, and more. There are over 10,000 animals that you can see in this place.
You can join behind-the-scenes tours, and animal encounters, and watch different presentations like Dolphin Presentations and Feeding Show.
This aquarium also has many educational programs such as Distance Learning, In-Person Classes, Overnight Adventures, and Homeschool Days.
And if you’re looking for a unique event venue, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is also a popular choice for weddings, corporate events, and more.
14. California Aquariums
California is not just a haven for progressive tech and delicious cuisines. It’s also home to several of the best aquariums in the US as follows:
Birch Aquarium at Scripps, La Jolla California
Location: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla
Birch Aquarium at Scripps belongs to one of the best aquariums in the US offering an impressive variety of experiences for all ages including Summer Camp, Sunset Scripps Pier Walk, and Tidepoolong Adventure.
This aquarium is home to around 3000 animals with spectacular exhibits like Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins, Seadragons & Seahorses, Giant Kelp Forest, Hall of Fishes, Shark Shores, and many more.
What’s incredible about this aquarium is that there are several conservation projects that it supports being part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums including seahorse conservation, and coral conservation.
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey California
Location: 886 Cannery Row, Monterey
Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the US with over three million visitors every year. This spectacular aquarium destination features sea life aquatic plants and animals and awesome exhibits.
The top attractions of Monterey Bay Aquarium include African penguins, jellyfish, sea otters, sharks, spider crabs, kelp forest, and many more.
The oceanfront location of Monterey Bay Aquarium makes it even more immersive for visitors.
Monterey Bay Aquarium to date is the second largest aquarium in the United States with a tank that holds around 300,000 gallons of water. Imagine the number of different creatures that you will have the opportunity to view.
This United States aquarium is also an active advocate of protecting marine lives and the ocean. They even have teacher and youth development programs that highly encourage marine life conservation and preservation.
Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach California
Location: 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach
Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach California is another top pick among the best aquariums in America. This massive aquarium has over 500 species of animals with more than 12,000 specimens.
You will see penguins, sea otters, seahorses, sharks, and a whole lot more. The exhibits are also very interactive and educational. They have live shows and animal feedings that the whole family will enjoy.
Other interactive exhibits include the Aquatic Nursery, Shark Lagoon Touchpools, Frog Pond, and the Sea Otter Habitat.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is also very much dedicated to ocean conservation. They have many programs that focus on education, research, and action to protect marine lives.
SeaWorld, San Diego California
Location: 500 Sea World Dr., San Diego
Seaworld in San Diego California is one of the unique aquariums in the United States with a theme park to boot. Aside from the magnificent aquarium with award-winning exhibits, you can join in on thrilling family rides like Tidal Twister, Sea Dragon Drop, and Aqua Scout.
This aquarium has around 13,000 animals including the aquatic animals that you want to encounter. Among the featured animals are beluga whales, sea lions, sea turtles, sea otters, walruses, penguins, harbor seals, orcas, and bat rays.
Seaworld’s popular interactive exhibits include Explorer’s Reef Touchpools, Bat Ray Shallows, and Sea Lion Point.
If you prefer to have a close interaction with your favorite aquatic animals, then you will get the opportunity to do so in Seaworld through activities like Dolphin In-Water Interaction, Orca Up-Close Encounter, Sea Otter Encounter Tour, and more.
Seaworld also has its share of promoting the conservation and protection of sea life through summer camp programs where kids can learn and enjoy.
13. Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport Oregon
Location: 2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is one of the most impressive aquariums in the United States to visit. It features over 3,500 sea creatures with more than 200 different species.
Some of the main attractions in this place are the Otter Exhibit, Passages of the Deep, Sea Lion Caves, Shark Reef Cafe, Exploring Tide Pools, and more.
You can take part in many activities in the Oregon Coast Aquarium such as feeding a sea otter or touching a shark. You can also participate in behind-the-scenes tours, and animal encounters, and watch live presentations.
This top aquarium in the United States is also dedicated to ocean conservation. They have many initiatives and programs to help preserve marine life and their habitat.
You can visit this place and be a part of their efforts in saving the planet.
12. The Florida Aquarium, Tampa Florida
Location: 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa
The Florida Aquarium is another best choice among the top-rated aquariums in the US with diverse exhibits, immersive experiences, and fantastic tours.
There are about 8,000 animals in this incredible aquarium in Tampa Florida. You will get to witness sharks, eels, tortoises, stingrays, river otters, and more.
Kids can even enjoy splash pads. For adults, the 4D multisensory theatre and elegant gallery space would be good go-to places.
There are several aquarium habitats to keep you entertained such as Wetlands of Florida, Reef Secrets, Stingray Beach, and Waves of Wonder.
The Florida Aquarium steps up your aquarium adventure with experiences that will leave you in awe for the entire duration of the activity. There’s the Wild Dolphin Cruise that would have you join on a sail in search of wild dolphins and a SeaTrek experience, an underwater walking tour with a guide.
The Florida Aquarium also has several conservation programs including Sea Turtle Conservation Program and Coral Conservation Program.
11. Hawaii Aquariums
Hawaii not only delivers a phenomenal island experience but is also home to impressive aquariums as follows:
Maui Ocean Center, Wailuku Hawaii
Location: 192 Maalaea Rd, Wailuku
Maui Ocean Center in Hawaii is one of the most outstanding aquariums not just in America but in the world. This Maui must-see destination is also known as “The Aquarium of Hawaii.”
The Maui Ocean Center is home to more than 60,000 sea creatures with over 750 different species. You will see sharks, stingrays, turtles, and an array of tropical fish.
There are also over 15 exhibits in this world-class aquarium. The most popular ones are the Open Ocean, Turtle Lagoon, and the Shark Reef Tunnel.
Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu Hawaii
Location: 2777 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu
Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu Hawaii is another top pick for the best aquariums in America. This world-renowned aquarium is home to over 500 species of animals with more than 3,500 specimens.
You will see sharks, coral reef fishes, sea turtles, and a wide variety of marine invertebrates. The exhibits are also very interactive and educational. They have live shows and animal feedings that the whole family will enjoy.
Other interactive exhibits include the Touchpool, Coral Reef Exhibit, and the Sea Turtle Exhibit.
The Waikiki Aquarium is also very much dedicated to ocean conservation.
10. Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Washington
Location: 1483 Alaskan Way Pier 59, Seattle
Seattle Aquarium is the coolest aquarium that you can visit among the aquariums in the US with more than 10,000 species of sea animals.
This aquarium is home to harbor seals, sea lions, grunt sculpin, triggerfish, rockfish, dwarf cuttlefish, giant pacific octopus, and more.
Seattle Aquarium has unforgettable exhibits that will make your trip worth it. You have the Birds and Shores exhibit, The Salmon Way, Underwater Dome, Tropical Pacific, and many others.
You can take your partner during one of your extraordinary romantic getaways and experience out-of-this-world views of aquatic creatures or maybe join special events like Lightning Talks: Kelp Forest, Cedar River Salmon Journey, and Plankton Explorers at Pier 62.
Seattle Aquarium also has field conservation projects that work with other communities for the preservation and protection of marine species and habitats.
9. Alaska Sealife Center, Seward Alaska
Location: 301 Railway Ave, Seward
Alaska Sealife Center is one of the incredible aquariums to visit if you want to see a lot of different marine animals in their natural habitat.
In this top aquarium in the world, you will witness more than 4,000 creatures like otters, puffins, seals, and octopuses. Many interactive exhibits focus on the different species found in Alaska.
Some of the exhibitions at Alaska Sealife Center are the Sea Lion Exhibit, Seabird Aviary, Penguin Interaction Zone, and the popular Alaskan Story.
You can also take part in many educational programs like Marine Science Saturday, Ocean Adventures Camp, and Junior Ranger Program.
Alaska Sealife Center is also dedicated to ocean conservation by researching how to sustainably manage marine resources. They also work hard to rehabilitate sick and injured animals.
8. Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga Tennessee
Location: 1 Broad St, Chattanooga
Tennessee Aquarium is another best aquarium in the US to bring your family or loved one and experience magnificent encounters with diverse aquatic creatures.
There are several wonderful creatures for you to see including the North American River Otter, the Macaroni Penguin, the Alligator Snapping Turtle, and Sand Tiger Shark.
The exhibits are first rate too. You have Discovery Hall, Delta Country, River Giants, Turtles of the World, Tennessee River, Appalachian Cove Forest, and more to explore.
Tennessee Aquarium also has an IMAX theater to step up your aquarium experience. There are several animals shows that you can choose from depending on your preference.
This aquarium also holds summer camps and accepts veterinary internships to educate young minds about the conservation and protection of ocean life.
7. New York Aquarium, Brooklyn New York
Location: 602 Surf Ave, Brooklyn
New York Aquarium is one of the most phenomenal aquariums in the US that brings brilliant exhibits, exciting shows, and incredible wild encounters.
This awesome aquarium is home to around 8,000 animals and receives more than 750,000 visitors every year.
There are a lot of things to do at the New York Aquarium that make the visit unforgettable. You can roam around the exhibits like Spineless where you get to see the giant pacific octopus, moon jellies, and zombie worms.
Another exhibit called Ocean Wonders will have you get a good glimpse of sharks, sea turtles, and rays.
New York Aquarium also has immersive experiences including a 4D theater, Touchpool, aqua theater shows, and interactive quests to save animals.
During your visit, make sure to head down to the Conservation Hall to learn about ways to protect marine lives and habitats.
6. Newport Aquarium, Newport Kentucky
Location: 1 Levee Way, Newport
Newport Aquarium in Kentucky should also be on your aquariums visit list.
This place is home to more than 20,000 animals from over 500 species. Some of the popular attractions are the Butterfly Bungalow, Dangerous Lagoon, Frog Bog, Gator Alley Bayou, and Shark Ray Bay.
Newport Aquarium also has a touch pool where you can interact with stingrays and horseshoe crabs. You can also take part in many educational programs like Aquarium University, Behind the Scenes Tour, and build your coral reef.
This top aquarium in America is also committed to ocean conservation by conducting research and rescue operations for endangered marine animals.
5. Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, Mystic Connecticut
Location: 55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic
Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration is one of the best aquariums in the US. It features an amazing array of over 10,000 animals with more than 300 species.
One of their most popular attractions is the Penguin Pavilion where you can observe African penguins up close. You will also see beluga whales, steller sea lions, the Amazon rainforest, sharks, an African underwater cave, and more.
This top aquarium also offers unique experiences like the Penguin Encounter, a behind-the-scenes tour of the African penguin habitat, and an overnight stay at the aquarium so you can sleep with the fishes.
The Mystic Aquarium considered the best aquarium in the Northeast, is also dedicated to ocean conservation. They have many programs that focus on research, education, and actions to protect precious sea life.
4. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg Tennessee
Location: 88 River Rd, Gatlinburg
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg also belongs among the top aquariums in the US to visit. Tons of fun await every visitor with different varieties of attractions and experiences.
This best aquarium boasts around 10,000 sea animals with 350 individual species.
On the upper level of the aquarium, you have the Ocean Realm with an abundance of aquatic animals, a Shark Lagoon, a Touch a Ray Bay, and a Tropical Rainforest.
On the lower level, you have Coral Reef, Discovery Center, Gallery of the Seas, Stingray Bay, Penguin Playhouse, Penguin Profiles, and Live Shows.
As America’s best aquarium, there are phenomenal experiences for all ages too such as Glass Bottom Boat, Turtle Time, and Penguin Paintings.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies also have camping and sleepover experiences plus they host birthday parties too.
To develop your young ones’ care for nature, there are several programs that this best aquarium in the US offers such as Virtual Learning, In-Person Programs, and Scouts.
3. National Aquarium, Baltimore Maryland
Location: 501 E Pratt St, Baltimore
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is another one of the best aquariums in the United States with over 10,000 creatures ranging from sea mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles.
This amazing aquarium that should be included in your phenomenal aquariums in the United States list offers extraordinary tours, experiences, and activities that will make your trip one of the most memorable getaways.
There are award-winning exhibits that will leave you speechless including the Atlantic Coral Reef, Amazon River Forest, Dolphin Discovery, Shark Alley, and more.
The National Aquarium also has several tour options such as Shark-Behind the Scenes Tour, Animal Care and Rescue Center Tour, Guest Diver Program, and Dolphin Tour.
You will also see breathtaking live streaming sessions straight from the Blacktip Reef, Pacific Coral Reef, and Jellies Invasion.
National Aquarium advocates and supports conservation movements through waterfront campus projects, animal rescue, youth education, and habitat restoration. You can even take part in the movement through donations.
2. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans Louisiana
Location: 1 Canal St, New Orleans
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is one of the best aquariums in the United States and consistently ranks in the top 10. This aquarium delivers an experience with around 3600 animals including several endangered species.
Among the animals that you can see in Audubon Aquarium include white alligators, moon jellies, green sea turtles, sea stars, potbellied seahorses, cownose ray, and many more.
As another best aquarium in the world, there are several activities to enjoy including Shark Discovery, Undersea Explorer VR Experience, Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi River.
The Gulf of Mexico Tank is the centerpiece of Audubon Aquarium and is one of the largest in the US. It houses around 400 animals including sharks, barracuda, and sea turtles.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans offers an aquarium dining experience and a chance for you to have a symbolic adoption of an aquarium animal where you will receive a digital certificate of adoption.
Audubon’s Aqua Grill Cafe serves specialty salads, made-to-order sandwiches, and snacks. If you plan to adopt an aquarium animal, some of the choices include a green sea turtle, a sea lion, and a sandbar shark.
Audubon Aquarium and Zoo in New Orleans delivers a zoo and aquarium experience so if you have enough time, you can also try to visit the zoo animals.
1. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Georgia
Location: 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta
Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta Georgia should be at the top of your best aquariums in the U.S. list because it has the largest aquarium in the US with a tank that can hold an astounding 10 million gallons of water.
With the largest tank in the US, that means you will explore an abundance of marine life and witness splendid sea creatures like whale sharks that you have never seen before.
As the biggest aquarium in the United States, there are a lot of animal encounters to choose from including shark cage dives, shark and ray interactions, sea lion encounters, beluga encounters, penguin encounters, and more.
Georgia Aquarium is one of the most interactive aquariums too. You can swim and dive with animals like whale sharks, join guided tours, watch a dolphin or sea lion presentation, experience the 4D theater, and join in different tours like Behind the Seas Tour, Guided Virtual Tour, and Virtual Reality Simulator.
Your kids can even join in on an exciting sleepover at this best aquarium in the south with amazing aquatic animals, bedtime snacks, magical sleeping spots, and a complimentary breakfast.
Georgia Museum has research and conservation programs with many conservation partners to promote the protection of the ocean and marine lives especially the endangered species.
If you’re looking for an amazing aquarium experience, be sure to check out one of these best aquariums in the United States! What are you waiting for? Start planning your visit to these incredible aquariums now!