For those who don’t like to go out in the wild and adventure, there are other ways to adventure indoors. For those who want to explore underwater, visiting aquariums can be the best way to explore underwater. Here is our list of the Best Aquariums in North America to Visit.
1. Georgia Aquarium
Photo Credit: WhereTraveler.com
The Georgia Aquarium is in Atlanta and is one of the largest aquariums in the world. It was the largest aquarium in the world from 2005 to 2012. There is something for everyone in this aquarium.
It has some of the most fascinating marine life as it is home to whale sharks, beluga whales, sea lions, and they have a dolphin show. One of the best ways to see the whale sharks is the 100 foot tunnel that is within the aquarium. If you are a scuba diver, you can actually dive with the whale sharks. It’s a great way to learn more about diving and interacting with marine life since the experts are scuba diving right with you.
The rest of the aquarium is split into 8 different exhibits: River Scout, Cold Water Quest, Ocean Voyager, Tropical Diver, Georgia Explorer, AT&T Dolphin Conservation, Suntrust Pier 22, and the Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone. All of these exhibits demonstrating different regional waters around the world.
For a personal review of the Georgia Aquarium, we recommend this review by Debbra at TropicalTravelGirl.com.
2. Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium is in Monterey, California and unlike many aquariums, is located right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It’s also very close to many of the dive sites we mentioned in a previous blog post of ours about why Lebron chose to move to LA.
In that post, we talked about the kelp forest, and there’s a kelp forest exhibit within the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Since the aquarium is on the coast too, they have a deck where you can observe marine life in the water. It’s quite the popular spot for sea otters especially.
They also have a Giant Pacific octopus which is one of the smartest creatures in the world along with a green sea turtle, and hammerhead sharks.
For tips on visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, check out this post by the Gal-ivanter.
3. National Aquarium
Photo Credit: Expedia
The National Aquarium is located in Baltimore, Maryland. If you’re traveling with family, this is a great aquarium for family fun.
If your kids love to be hands on, there’s plenty of hands-on experiences with touchpools and touchscreens on some of the exhibits. There’s even a Children’s Discovery Gallery for kids to play in too. There aren’t any strollers allowed in the National Aquarium, but it is known to have a great layout and a natural flow to it.
It’s most known for its dolphin show and the Blacktip Reef. The reef is a fake reef, but it gives a good demonstration of what life is like around a reef in its natural habitat.
For those who love apps, National Aquarium also has an app that can greatly enhance your experience there. The app can help with the lines and making sure you make the most of your visit.
For another review of National Aquarium, Tara’s Multicultural Table did a great piece, and is especially relevant if you have children.
4. Shedd Aquarium
Photo Credit: Smartdestinations.com
Shedd Aquarium is in Chicago, Illinois and was a gift from John G. Shedd who was the second president of Marshall Fields. It opened in 1930 and was one of the first aquariums to be built inland in the world.
Similar to the Georgia Aquarium, Shedd has 6 permanent exhibits: Waters of the World, Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising, Wild Reef, and the Abbott Oceanarium. All 6 exhibits showing different types of marine ecosystems around the world.
In the Abbott Oceanarium, there are 7 beluga whales. In addition to the beluga whales, there are the Pacific white-sided dolphins. One fun fact is that Shedd Aquarium was the first to bring the Pacific white-sided dolphins and sea otters to the Midwest.
If you are at Shedd Aquarium in the summer, one of the most popular events they have is Jazzin’ at the Shedd. It’s every Wednesday night in the summer, and you can enjoy cocktails and the Chicago skyline from Shedd Aquarium.
For some more tips on visiting Shedd Aquarium, check out this post by Katie!
5. Aquarium of the Pacific
Photo Credit: Goldstar.com
Aquarium of the Pacific is located in Long Beach, California. It features mainly the different regions within the Pacific Ocean, but has 19 major habitats and 32 focus exhibits.
If you’re a lover of sharks, Aquarium of the Pacific is the place for you. It has over 150 sharks and some of them you can even touch. The most popular sharks there are the zebra Sharks and sand tiger sharks.
Aquarium of the Pacific also has an aviary that models the coastal lowlands of Australia. In the aviary, there are 140 Lorikeet birds that will be highly interactive. They’ll come sit on your shoulder, and you can even feed them from the palm of your hand.
The other popular exhibit is the Northern Pacific gallery which is home to the aquarium’s giant Pacific octopus. This species of octopus is the largest in the world and can grow over 20 feet long.
For more insight into Aquarium of the Pacific, check out this post by Travel Caffeine!
6. New England Aquarium
Photo Credit: New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium is located in Boston, Massachusetts and is right in the Boston Harbor. The cool part is that it’s right next to the small cruise ships so you can get a tour of Boston by boat and check out the aquarium quite easily.
Similar to the Aquarium of the Pacific, the New England Aquarium has the largest shark and ray touch tank on the east coast. Another cool feature is the 4 story coral reef that shows what a caribbean marine ecosystem is like. It’s also the home of Myrtle, the famous green sea turtle of the New England Aquarium.
New to the New England Aquarium are the fur seals, and the New England Aquarium is one of three aquariums in the United States to have fur seals. In addition, they have a seadragon exhibit which houses the only two species of seadragons in the world, weedy and leafy. I know, very scientific names they have there for species!
For more photos and another short review, check out this post by Andrew Harper.
7. Texas State Aquarium
Texas State Aquarium is located in Corpus Christi, Texas which is south of San Antonio and on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s one of the largest aquariums in the United States.
This aquarium is slightly unique as they have their own splash park on site. There’s no extra fee for the splash park either, it’s part of the regular admission price. It’s definitely a great way to entertain the kids and change up the pace.
One unique feature is the ability to go behind the scenes of the aquarium. You can see how the animals are taken care of and even feed some of them. Yes, even the sharks.
Similar to the Aquarium of the Pacific, they also have an aviary. They have flamingos, macaws, and a bald eagle on site.
For more information on the Texas State Aquarium, the best site is their own site, texasstateaquarium.org.
8. Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Photo Source: Citypass.com
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is located in Toronto, Canada and is our best Canadian Aquarium to visit. There’s plenty of other Ripley’s Aquariums in the United States too, so if you visit this one, there are others that should be similar!
Ripley’s Aquarium is Canada’s largest indoor aquarium with over 20,000 marine species under its roof. Similar to the Georgia Aquarium mentioned above, this aquarium has a tunnel as well so you can feel like right there underwater.
There’s also a wide variety of different habitats in Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada with 17 different habitats that focus on the diversity of ecosystems within Canada.
This aquarium might be the most positively reviewed online as we saw only positive comments and reviews of it.
For a more personal review of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, check out this post by the Geek Dad!
9. Aquarium of Veracruz
Photo Credit: Aquarium of Veracruz
Aquarium of Veracruz is located in Veracruz, Mexico and can be a great break from the norm if you travel to Mexico for vacation. It’s been named the largest and most important aquarium in Mexico and Latin America and opened in 1992.
The Aquarium of Veracruz doesn’t have as much variety as some other aquariums in this list with only 250 species, but does give a latin spin on aquariums which can be quite different.
One of the most popular parts of the aquarium is right in the beginning with the Los Tuxtlas Jungle. This is another aviary of sorts and you can even pet a toucan. There’s also a boa constrictor in this exhibit as well.
Another unique feature is that they have manatees. This one of their largest marine animals on site and one that they focus on. They’ve actually been successfully breeding them since 2004. This is similar to what Shedd Aquarium does with their beluga whales.
A more in-depth tour can be seen Been Here Done That blog post.