The 13 Most Beautiful Aquariums in the United States

When it comes to amazing aquatic displays of salt and freshwater marine life, the U.S. has amazing aquariums that will take your breath away. With many different aquariums to choose from, how does one pick which to see and which to skip? That’s where we come in – so sit back, relax, and enjoy our list of the 13 most beautiful aquariums in the U.S. 

Table of Contents

1. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, GA

Image: Georgia Aquarium

Price of admittance: General admission is $39.95 for adults, $31.95 for seniors, and $29.95 for children.

The grandfather of all aquariums is the Georgia Aquarium. It is not only the largest aquarium in the world but also the only aquarium that features whale sharks outside of Asia. They have over 500,000 square feet of exhibits and over 100,000 animals for guests to see.

This aquarium has a dolphin exhibit worth over $110 million! This impressive exhibit hosts the “Dolphin Tales,” show, a hugely popular performance, as exhibits where you can simply view the dolphins.

Along with their animal and trainer performances, the Georgia Aquarium also offers the “Learning Loop” which is an educational experience for guests of all ages. They also create and produce their own underwater productions that can be viewed in their impressive 4D theater.

2. Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu, HI

Image: Waikīkī Aquarium

Price of admittance: General admission is $12 for adults and $5 for children and seniors.

The Waikiki Aquarium is the second oldest aquarium in the United States. Located on Oahu in Hawaii, this aquarium first opened in 1904 and has over 3,500 different species to view – most of which are native to the area.

At this aquarium, you can view animals that you won’t find anywhere else, such as the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. The Waikiki Aquarium also boasts the oldest collection of living corals in the U.S.

Currently, the aquarium features a peppermint angelfish, which is on loan from the Smithsonian and estimated to be worth around $30,00. The Waikiki Aquarium also hosts fun, behind-the-scenes tours along with several incredible exhibits for its guests to explore.

3. Adventure Aquarium, Camden, NJ

Image: Adventure Aquarium

Price of admittance: General admission is $24.95 for adults and $18.95 for children.

Formally known as the New Jersey State Aquarium, the Adventure Aquarium is now one of the most popular aquariums in the Philadelphia area.

They are one of the select few aquariums in the United States that allow their guests to touch moon jellyfish along with a variety of pink shrimp and lobsters. And if you are looking for a little more excitement, guests can also call ahead of time to make appointments to snorkel inside the large tanks with the sharks.

The aquarium’s South Building hosts a large ocean tank with a collection of unusual animals, some of which guests might have not seen before. The facility also is home to sea dragons, giant Pacific Octopus, and the Nile hippopotamus along with several varieties of shark species.

4. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, CA

Image: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Price of admittance: $39.95 for adults, $34.95 for seniors and students, and $24.95 for children

Known as one of America’s favorite aquariums, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a few minutes away from Pebble Beach on California’s Pacific coast.

Not only does this facility offer daily activities and underwater shows, but it is also home to an impressive number of marine animals including the largest and most assorted collection of seahorse species. They also host giant octopuses, sea otters, and local fish.

5. Aquarium of the Pacific, Longbeach, CA

Image: Aquarium of the Pacific

Price of admittance: $25.95 for adults, $14.95 for children, and $22.95 for seniors.

Home to over 500 species of marine life, this aquarium offers visitors a glimpse into what life is like in the vast Pacific Ocean. With sea lions, penguins, sharks, and rays at this aquarium, they have no shortage of underwater creatures for their guests to marvel at.

Not only do they have a variety of fun and interactive exhibits, but they recently added a featured NASA show that gives guests a fun and educational look at the Earth’s rhythms.

6. New England Aquarium, Boston, MA

Image: New England Aquarium

Price of admittance: $24.95 for adults and $17.95 for children.

They have a large and diverse collection of marine life from all over the globe at the New England Aquarium. With 20,000 animals and 600 different species to see, this aquarium is a fan favorite.

From African penguins to Northern fur seals to Australian spotted jellyfish, this aquarium has something for everyone. Children are welcome to enjoy the Edge of the Sea touch tank and view live presentations as well as see the trainers interact with their animals.

7. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL

Image: Shedd Aquarium

Price of admittance: General admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children.

This aquarium first opened in 1930 when it was known as the first inland aquarium to permanently host saltwater sea wildlife.

Forbes has praised the Shedd Aquarium for being “awe-inspiring” as it treats guests with over 8,000 different marine creatures and animals.

Over 2 million visitors a year come to marvel at the different exhibits and species such as piranhas, anacondas, California sea lions, and various species of sharks.

8. Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, SC

Image: Ripley Entertainment Inc.

Price of admittance: General admission costs $21.99 for adults and $11.99 for children.

This aquarium offers a different experience for guests by letting them learn about the amazing history of the ocean. Not only that, but they even offer guests the chance to touch a real prehistoric horseshoe crab.

With about 85,000 square feet of exhibits to explore, guests will experience the ocean in a brand-new light. This aquarium hosts various poisonous and exotic species like poison dart frogs as well as actual piranhas and several species of shark.

9. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans, LA

Image: Audubon Nature Institute

Price of admittance: $22.95 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $16 for children.

Even after the devastating events of Hurricane Katrina, the Audubon Aquarium has still remained one of the best in the U.S. to visit.

Guests are treated to experiences such as touch pools in the Animal Grossology exhibit for children and will see various sea creatures, such as tarpon and sharks, in its impressive 400,000-gallon tank.

This aquarium also has a unique Discover a Caribbean reef walkthrough experience and a hurricane simulator so that guests can get an idea of the scope of damage one can cause.

Guests are also able to see piranhas and anacondas here along with freshwater stingrays and various other specimens in their Amazon Exhibit.

10. New York Aquarium, New York City, NY

Image: Wildlife Conservation Society

Price of admittance: General admission is $9.95.

Originally opened in 1896, the New York Aquarium is the oldest operational Aquarium in the United States. In 1957, it moved from Castel Garden in Battery Park to the boardwalk on Coney Island in Brooklyn.

This aquarium is home to over 350 different species of aquatic wildlife. These include the California sea lion, black-footed penguins, sea otters, as well as the Pacific walrus.

This aquarium works hard to increase the public’s awareness about preserving the oceans and does so through its unique exhibits, public events, and research centers.

11. Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga, TN

Image: Tennessee Aquarium

Price of admittance: $24.95 for adults and $14.95 for children.

Opened on May the 1st 1992, this Aquarium was once known as the largest in the world for its freshwater life. It is both educational and fun for guests of all ages.

There are many buildings to explore here, such as the River Journey and the Ocean Journey buildings. It is home to more than 12,000 different species of fish and includes various birds, reptiles, penguins, butterflies, and amphibians.

Within the Ocean Journey building, guests can see sharks in their large tanks and take advantage of the opportunity to touch rays.

12. Florida Aquarium, Tampa, FL

Image: The Florida Aquarium

Price of admittance: $21.95 for adults, $18.95 for seniors, and $16.95 for children under 12. They also offer reduced online ticket prices.

This aquarium is unique in that it focuses more on local aquatic life that is native to Florida. Not only do they offer the opportunity to see the various species, but they also offer activities such as Explore-A-Shore.

Explore-A-Shore is a 2-acre outdoor water playground complete with animal shows, water cannons, and geysers. They also offer a two-hour, relaxing boat ride eco-tour of Tampa Bay.

13. Steinhart Aquarium, San Francisco, CA

Image: California Academy of Sciences

Price of admittance: 34.95 for adults, $29.95 for seniors, students, and youth, and $24.95 for children.

With over 38,000 animals from across the globe, guests can be sure that their visit to the Steinhart Aquarium will not only be educational but fun as well.

This aquarium boasts 900 different species, so you are sure to find something that you’ve never seen before.