Top 20 Aquariums in the United States

The submerged realm beneath the oceans and seas has long been a fascination with human beings. These breathless territories house some of the most fascinating aquatic creatures, that were once only seen by the fisherman and pearl hunters of the antique world.

As the technology progressed, we learned to manipulate the tools and nature to our own linking we dived deep into the teeming waters with diving gears, and later, recreated the aquatic world within ecological aquariums- for rescuing endangered and rare species, but mostly for sheer amusement.

The world’s first aquarium dates back to less than two centuries ago, in London, followed by a trend for tanks in the United States and the rest of the world.

Try these 20 vivariums in the US for a bewildering experience, a fun family activity, and learning about marine life- in the transparency of aquatic enclosures, sided by entertaining amenities.

1. Belle Isle Aquarium, Detroit

Belle Isle Aquarium, Detroit

Established as America’s first public tank, Belle Isle Aquarium opened its doors in the early 20th century. Noted for its exceptional architecture and monumental structure, it harbors lagoons, lakes, and over 11 kilometers of shorelines. The vast aquarium preserves and breeds rare species of the reefy territory of Belle Isle; although the exhibits include varieties of aquatic habitats- from deep-sea sandy habitations, freshwater animals, reef creatures, frigid water dwellers to tropical species.

The dome roof is illuminated in aquamarine green color; sided with the scenic exhibits, it evokes an underwater impression in the mind of visitors. With tree-lined garden spaces, picnic zones overlooking the captivating marine landscapes, a small playground, historic attractions, and much to learn about the sea animal- Belle Isle Aquarium is a must-visit family destination.

2. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta

Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta

The biosphere’s second-largest aquarium is a record-breaking aquatic enclosure, located in Atlanta. Titled as the country’s No. 1 aquarium exhibition, Georgia Aquarium harbors thousands of animals from freshwater creatures to oceanic species in astonishing recreations of natural habitats. Known for the rich biodiversity of wildlife, the ecosphere’s largest fish, the whale sharks, call this aquarium home.

The earth’s largest indoor single habitats are also found here, housing dolphin stadiums, whales, and other magnificent creatures at Ocean Voyager. For more exciting displays, visit the coral realm of Tropical Diver, or dive into a shark tank at the safety of cage enclosures. Besides the sociable seals and dolphins’ presentations, Aquanaut Adventure is the most interactive zone, offering treasure hunts, entertaining games, and a handful of smaller displays.

3. SEA LIFE at Mall Of America, Bloomington

SEA LIFE at Mall Of America, Bloomington

For swimming with underwater predators, Minnesota’s largest aquarium is the flag holder of American aquariums. Snorkeling with the fish and cage dives in habitats- of sharks, whales, sawfishes, and other extraordinary creatures- bring the visitors to a close touch and an adrenaline-boosting experience.

Giants aside, the miniature creatures live in the park’s most colorful display. The endearing seahorse displays with interactive pools, interesting jellyfish tanks, and the entertaining coral caves with real-life Disney fish look-alikes; such as Nemo the clownfish and Dory the regal blue tang. A long transparent tunnel crosses beneath the habitats that range from the north Pacific creatures to tropical fishes, and vicious piranhas of the mysterious rainforest exhibitions of the Amazon.

This friendly aquarium even invites the sightseers for a sleepover under these spectacular fish tanks, or even having their own friendly pizza party.

4. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Enlisted among one of the world’s grandest and oldest aquariums, Monterey Bay Aquarium catches the essence of the Pacific coasts. Perching on the bay’s rugged shorelines, it spotlights the unique marine life of the region, its conservation, and lofty displays of kelp forest dwellers.

The leaping waves at the underground tunnel exhibitions, the cerulean blue of the shores, and fine imitations of underwater habitations- all together nominate this transparent enclosure as a one of a kind vivarium.

Exhibits of friendly sea lions and dolphins with exciting presentations and interactive programs highlight the favorite sections of the aquarium’s young visitors.

5. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans

Standing as one of New Orleans’ most beloved indoor attractions, Audubon Aquarium sits on the verdant shores of the Mississippi River. Exhibits feature life in the azure Caribbeans and tropical zones, with all their coral beauty and flamboyant fishes around the Gulf of Mexico. Lodged within a modern structure, architectural excellence is a trait of Audubon- with large acrylic tunnels at the Great Maya Reef that makes one forget the life on land- at least during the visit.

Captivating exhibits of the river-dwellers extend to tropical seas, and semi-aquatic inhabitants, particularly black-footed penguins and albino alligators. Flanked by a fascinating zoo, butterfly conservation, and insect garden- spectacular wildlife and fun activities are innumerable here.

6. Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium

Noted among the top ten aquariums in the United States, Newport Aquarium is noted for its expansive passages and habitats, and exhibitions of the largest assembly of the shark rays. Interactive programs allow the young guests to come in literal touch with baby sharks, craps, and other sea creatures; testified as to the most fun area by the children, together with the aquarium’s playground.

Apart from the scenic displays, New port’s vivarium lead star is a 50 years old alligator, justly named the Mighty Mike for its enormous size.

7. National Aquarium, Baltimore

National Aquarium, Baltimore

Housing from low-lying coral reefs, brooding stingrays, tanked habitats of the giant sharks and deep-sea creatures- the National Aquarium is ranked among the top five aquariums of America. Overlooking the bobbing boats of the Inner Harbor, this aquatic museum is renowned for its spectacular exhibitions as well as four-dimensional films that shine a light onto the territory of unknown and rather quirky creatures- such as Peacock Mantis Shrimp and Ribbon Eel.

The Living Seashore brings the spectators to close contact with the Atlantic stingrays, jointly with the displays of friendly dolphins. A three-story-tall shark exhibition, Indo-Pacific reef’s wondrous animals, and the semi-aquatic habitats of Australian amphibians and reptiles at Atlantic Coral Reef highlight the marine park’s extraordinary attractions.

8. Maui Ocean Center, Maalaea

Maui Ocean Center, Maalaea

Designated as the largest tropical aquarium exhibition, the mesmerizing arena of tropical reefs is cherished, displays, and conserved in Maui Center. This aquatic sanctuary is home to enormous shark tanks, glowing jellyfish enclosures, and hundreds of tropical fishes in all sizes and colors- described as the most premium, and perhaps colorful, aquarium experience worldwide.

As a family-friendly getaway, the outdoor aquarium offers interactive programs for children and hosts spectacular presentations run by the intelligent sea creatures- that fascinates the young and adult alike.

9. Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi

Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi

Noted as a prizewinning sanctuary to the Gulf of Mexico’s wildlife, Texas State Aquarium is a haven of coastal lagoons, temperate forests, coral caves, sea caves, and all that lives in between. The longest acrylic window of North America takes the visitors on a journey to the depths of Caribbean marine life, blended with life-size displays of quintessential shipwrecks.

A number of exhibits feature endangered species native to Corpus Christi Bay, topped with artificial coral ecosystems and a variety of sea vegetables. Interactive programs such as the feeding frenzy or petting sections engage the guests, while Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are the most welcoming, and conceivably the most popular, presentation of this marine park.

At a stone’s throw from the acrylic habitats, the lush rainforest is home to the adorable and lazy sloth bears and lingering flocks of flamingos- complimenting a remarkable panorama of the scenic bay and its harbor. 

10. Mystic Aquarium, Stonington

Mystic Aquarium, Stonington

Mystic Aquarium is all about the beluga whales and endangered arctic inhabitants like the rare northern sea lions- which are rather showy and friendly in this aquatic zoo. Except for posing as a safe sanctuary to the Nordic creatures, exhibits span to the tropical wonders and coral-dwellers – with touch tanks, mesmerizing pink jellyfish displays, to African penguin habitats.

Educational displays and guided tours centering around wildlife conservation, an interactive bird sanctuary, or simply witnessing surreal tropic realms- Mystic Aquarium has something of interest to offer for all ages.

11. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

Located on the scenic shores of Michigan Lake, Shedd Aquarium marks a world-famous marine conservation center, with outstanding training programs and exemplary animal husbandry. Exhibits are in two categories, saltwater, and sweet water habitats; seahorse displays housing hundreds of colorful pairs swimming together, endangered sea otters, camouflaging octopuses often with rare origins, and tropical exhibitions in acrylic tanks- illuminated to create a striking kaleidoscopic effect.

Occasionally, visitors can come across diverse displays of creatures such as rare sea turtles, as rescued guests- who will return to the wild after all-inclusive care and recovery.

12. Florida Aquarium, Tampa

Florida Aquarium, Tampa

The search for a wow aquarium experience ends at Florida Aquarium, known as one of North America’s eminent marine museums–according to the reader’s choice awards. This state-of-the-art atrium rises along Florida’s Gulf Coast and is home to regional and worldwide marine life- although the bay’s coral life and kelp forest replantation and rehabilitation is the sole aim here.

Exhibitions extend from deep-sea wonders and sharks to the colorful world of coral habitats, to on-land ecosystems of lemurs, penguins, and gators. Swimming with the fishes or diving in a shark tank boasts a rewarding experience for adults, while touch tanks offer a sensory interaction for young children. Spectacular vistas and wildlife sightings combine together at the Wild Dolphin Cruise around Tampa Bay.

13. New England Aquarium, Boston

New England Aquarium, Boston

New England Aquarium is where complex architectural techniques blend with wildlife habitats spiraling into lofty floors and scenic displays. Most colorful exhibits are found at the topical gallery and the Indo-Pacific Coral Reefs. The oldest resident here is a green sea turtle, called Myrtle, swimming in the Giant Ocean Tank Habitat, sided with spiral ramps for better viewing.

After visiting the adorable penguins and the aquarium’s gift shop with themed souvenirs, walk around the mini markets and hospitable feel of Harborwalk- at a jaunt with a number of historic attractions.

14. Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga

Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga

Holding the nations’ fifth place in the class of fine aquariums, Tennessee Aquarium squats on the lush waterfronts of the Tennessee River. This innovative aquatic zoo is noted for its ever-changing exhibits and new methodological care for the betterment of animal welfare.

A stunning collection of turtles from around the world, hypnotic displays of jellyfishes at the virtue of mind-blowing LED light shows, and an entertaining touch tank- famed for its colossal size, friendly stingrays, and variety of coral fishes. Housing the Ocean Journey’s Boneless Beauties, the sea forest habitats of the reefy oceans, the renowned sea dragons mark the exhibits’ specials, together with seahorses and jellyfishes.

The expansive journey from the sea rises to the lush surface of a lemur forest, wetlands areas with American alligators, and sweet water habitats of cute otters.

15. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg

At an hour’s drive from Tennessee Aquarium lies another eminent aquatic museum, known as the finest interactive aquariums worldwide. As a family-oriented getaway, Ripley’s Aquarium’s touch exhibits range from smooth-backed sting rays to jellyfishes, crabs, and even sharks.

Habitats collections of ferocious creatures of the underwater world, such as Piranhas and Poison Dart Frogs, as well as colorful tropical fishes and deep-sea giants.

No aquarium visit is complete without the penguins, perching on the rugged habitats, playing, savoring seafood platters, and even putting on a show during courtship rituals.

16. Waikiki Aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium

Hawaiian archipelago’s submerged wonders are sheltered in Waikiki Aquarium. Although small, the exhibitions bring out the best of tropical marine wildlife into transparency, essentially the coastal ecosystems of central America.

In addition to the wondrous life of living corals, adorable seals, and tropical fishes within the transparent tanks, the Atlantis submarine takes the visitors to the actual reefs and the underwater attractions around Oahu.

Sitting at the coastal heart of Kapiolani Beach Park, the aquarium remains at a short distance from myriads of outdoor recreation opportunities.

17. Fort Fisher Aquarium

Fort Fisher Aquarium

Fort Fisher Aquarium binds the scenic marine exhibits with outdoor adventure; with rugged reefs to climb, interactive tanks to feel the smooth rays or hard-shelled crabs under your fingertips, and marveling at the sight of green turtles at the cape fear shoals.

This aquarium aims to connect the visitors to the very essence wildlife of coastal marines, that covers from alligator inhabiting salt marshes, colossal shark tanks, behind scene tours, and the entertaining camps for children- all provided at a budget-friendly cost and much of entertaining hospitality of Fort Fisher’s staff.

18. Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach

Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach

Dominating the scenic shores of Rainbow Harbor, the Aquarium of the Pacific is South Carolina’s largest marine zoo, which is both entertaining and educational. The exterior facade resembles a giant whale of glass and iron, housing three main galleries with floor-to-ceiling length exhibitions, protected marine species of Catalina Island, and other endangered Pacific creatures.

Tropical Reef Habitat offers vibrant corals, temperate zone sharks to the seahorse and sea dragon exhibits, and brilliantly colored tropical fishes swimming around their safe refuge. A bird sanctuary, penguin habitat, and shark lagoons feature the outdoor habitats of this mesmerizing aquarium.

19. PINE KNOLL SHORES Aquarium

PINE KNOLL SHORES Aquarium

For premium under the sea family fun, visit the Aquarium of the Pacific. Titled as a modern aquarium, this vivarium offers a peek into the vibrant world of north Carolina creatures, with enthralling elements such as a three-story indoor cascade, actual shipwrecks, submarine tanks, and touch pools for coming in contact with fishes and the cartilaginous feel of stingrays- and all that is in between from the high rising summits of Carolina to Atlantic reefs.

20. Wildlife World Aquarium, Arizona

Wildlife World Aquarium, Arizona

Our list ends with an aquarium amid the parched landscape of the Arizona desert- described as a genuine phenomenon attraction. Among the aquarium display highlights; tropical fishes, south Pacific reef acrylic tunnel, sociable sea lions at the shipwreck cove, amazon exhibits, rare turtles, and another amphibian such as the rare albino alligators and crocodiles- diversity of this aquatic wildlife is vast and covers from deep-sea creatures to reef-dwelling tropic species.

spanning over a four-building exhibition of aquatic and semiaquatic animals, Wildlife world houses its own African safari and a comprehensive zoo sheltering exotic animals from Arizona and around the globe.

Additionally, we suggest visiting these two marine museums for a promising experience;

Columbus Aquarium embraces the mesmerizing displays, with a handful of exotic habitats at the Adventure Cove and its adjacent zoo; besides exhibitions, the aquarium focuses on luxury entertainment, housing designer golf courses, delectable restaurants, and even posh accommodations.

Named as one of the weirdest sea exhibitions, Caves of Sea Lions is named as America’s weirdest museum. A seasonal home to steller’s sea lions, it lounges over the rugged coasts of Oregon, accompanied by migrating puffins and occasional breaching whales.

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