10 Best Aquariums in the USA

The beauty and wonder aquariums offer is appreciated worldwide. Here are the top 10 aquariums in the United States.

Mar 31, 2023By Heather Jarek, BA Veterinary Technology
best aquariums usa

The unique animals and creatures of the sea have been admired by people for centuries. Aquariums offer a one-of-a-kind view of life under the water’s surface. There’s no need to book a snorkeling trip to experience the beauty of the sea. A planned day trip to one of these incredible aquariums will allow you to get close to these stunning creatures. The U.S. has some of the best aquariums in the world. Head to one of the aquariums listed below for an unforgettable experience!

10. Seattle Aquarium in Seattle, Washington

seattle aquarium washington

Located on Elliot Bay, the Seattle Aquarium offers an incredible marine experience with fantastic views of Puget Sound. It is the ninth-largest aquarium in the U.S. by attendance and one of the most visited attractions in the Puget Sound Region. This aquarium has a unique 4000,000-gallon underwater dome that allows a 360-degree view of the hundreds of Puget Sound fish! The Seattle Aquarium has several marine mammal exhibits that feature harbor seals, river otters, and more!

9. New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, New York

new york aquarium brooklyn

This expansive aquarium covers 14 acres on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. With over 500 marine species, and 18 shark and ray species, the NY aquarium has exhibits for everyone to enjoy. Head to the aquarium’s Aquatheater for a sea lion show, or make your way to the 4D theater for a 3-D film with sensory effects. Get up close to your favorite marine mammals in the aquarium’s incredible Wild Encounters exhibit.

8. Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee

chattanooga tennessee aquarium

Head down to the Chattanooga Waterfront, where you will find the beautiful Tennessee Aquarium. Situated within two buildings, the aquarium’s exhibits range from the creatures that live in mountain streams to beautiful butterflies that fly freely through the butterfly garden. This aquarium is home to one of the only locations in the world that offers an IMAX theater with a laser projection system!

7. Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California

montery bay aquarium california

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s primary goal is to inspire the conservation of marine life and the world’s oceans. Penguins, otters, jellyfish, and sharks are just a few of the incredible animals you can visit. They provide insight and education on over 80,000 plants and animals spread over 200 exhibits. The aquarium opened in 1984 and was the first to display a living kelp forest.

6. New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts

new england aquarium touch tank

This popular waterfront aquarium is located right on the Boston Harbor. The New England Aquarium’s famous 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank spans four stories tall. This giant tank is home to Myrtle, the giant green sea turtle, and hundreds of species of Caribbean fish. This aquarium has the biggest shark and ray tank on the East Coast. Its expansive African penguin and marine mammal exhibits are regular fan favorites.

5. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois

shedd aquarium chicago illinois

The Shedd Aquarium provides a truly magical experience. Here you can experience the rare opportunity to see the white-sided dolphin and beluga whale. Embark on a shark-feeding tour where you will visit the animal-care area to watch and learn how sharks are fed in captivity. Take your little ones to the Polar Play Zone, where they can dress up as penguins and play in a kid-sized submarine.

4. Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia

georgia aquarium whale shark

The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the U.S. and the third-largest in the world. It is also the only aquarium in the Western Hemisphere to house whale sharks, the world’s largest sharks! If your feeling brave, you can even book a shark cage dive and get into the water with these fascinating creatures. Be sure to book ahead, as the cage dive opportunity is very limited. If you prefer to stay dry, check out the aquarium’s 4D movie theater, dolphin presentation, and much more!

3. National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland

national aquarium baltimore maryland

With thousands of species and award-winning habitats to explore, the National Aquarium is a must-see. The aquarium is located on the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland, and covers over six acres! Some of its award-winning exhibits are the Australian river gorge, Amazon River Forest, and Dolphin Discovery. Take some time to explore the aquarium’s two touch pools and learn all about the unique creatures of the mid-Atlantic shore.

2. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

ripleys aquarium smokies tennessee

Sleep with sharks at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. This aquarium offers an overnight adventure that includes a late-night snack and scavenger hunt. Pull out your sleeping bags and fall asleep under the watchful eyes of sharks. Take a trip around the Shark Lagoon in the aquarium’s Glass Bottom Boat Adventure or spend the day painting with penguins at the Penguin Painting Experience.

1. Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut

sea lion show mystic aquarium

Love sea lions? The Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut is one of the two U.S. aquariums that have Northern sea lions, the largest of all sea lions! The aquarium offers up-close encounters with African penguins, reptiles, harbor seals, and more. Become a trainer for the day and spend your visit with one of the aquarium’s trainers to see what goes on behind the scenes at the Mystic Aquarium.

Heather Jarek
By Heather JarekBA Veterinary Technology

Heather is a lover of all animals, big and small. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology in 2014. She has been working as a licensed veterinary technician for the last eight years. Her favorite hobby is horseback riding, and she has been riding horses since the age of eight. She enjoys spending time with her family at the lake with their golden retriever Calista in her free time.