The Best Aquariums in the United States

Aquariums are where the mysteries of the ocean come alive, offering glimpses into the lives of underwater creatures. Everyone loves an aquarium. Across the United States, these aquariums stand out for their exceptional exhibits, conservation efforts, and educational programs.

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium, California| Photo: Shutterstock

    Monterey Bay Aquarium, California

    - Location: Monterey, California
    - Opened: 1984
    - Exhibits: Known for its regional focus on the marine habitats of Monterey Bay, it features a 28-foot-tall kelp forest, a million-gallon Open Sea exhibit, and the playful sea otters.
    - Special Characteristics: Pioneering in jellyfish and deep-sea creature exhibits, the aquarium is also renowned for its efforts in ocean conservation and research. It was the filming location for Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home

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  • New England Aquarium, Massachusetts| Photo: Shutterstock

    New England Aquarium, Massachusetts

    - Location: Boston, Massachusetts
    - Opened: 1969
    - Exhibits: It's famous for the Giant Ocean Tank, a four-story coral reef exhibit, and features a variety of marine animals including penguins and sea lions.
    - Special Characteristics: The aquarium's Simons IMAX Theatre and its focus on interactive experiences make it a standout.

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  • Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Louisiana| Photo: Shutterstock

    Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Louisiana

    - Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
    - Opened: 1990
    - Exhibits: Known for its representation of the Americas' aquatic biodiversity, featuring the Amazon Rainforest and the Gulf of Mexico exhibits.
    - Special Characteristics: The rare white alligators and an immersive Caribbean reef tunnel offer unique experiences.

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  • Shedd Aquarium, Illinois| Photo: Shutterstock

    Shedd Aquarium, Illinois

    - Location: Chicago, Illinois
    - Opened: 1930
    - Exhibits: Houses an extensive collection of over 32,000 animals, including the Wild Reef exhibit showcasing a Philippine coral reef.
    - Special Characteristics: It's one of the oldest public aquariums and has a historic architectural design.

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  • Georgia Aquarium, Georgia| Photo: Shutterstock

    Georgia Aquarium, Georgia

    - Location: Atlanta, Georgia
    - Opened: 2005
    - Exhibits: Famous for being one of the largest aquariums in the world, it includes Ocean Voyager, home to whale sharks and manta rays.
    - Special Characteristics: The aquarium offers a unique underwater tunnel and an interactive Dolphin Coast.

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  • Seattle Aquarium, Washington| Photo: Shutterstock

    Seattle Aquarium, Washington

    - Location: Seattle, Washington
    - Opened: 1977
    - Exhibits: Focused on the marine life of the Pacific Northwest, including a remarkable Window on Washington Waters exhibit.
    - Special Characteristics: The aquarium is known for its conservation research, particularly on sea otters and salmon.

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  • New York Aquarium, New York| Photo: Shutterstock

    New York Aquarium, New York

    - Location: Brooklyn, New York
    - Opened: 1896
    - Exhibits: Offers diverse exhibits like the Coral Triangle of Papua New Guinea, Glover's Reef, and exhibits on local marine life.
    - Special Characteristics: It's the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States

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  • National Aquarium, Maryland| Photo: Shutterstock

    National Aquarium, Maryland

    - Location: Baltimore, Maryland
    - Opened: 1981
    - Exhibits: Features a tropical rainforest, an Australian river gorge, and a living coral reef.
    - Special Characteristics: The architecture of the building and the multi-story Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit are particularly notable

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  • Alaska SeaLife Center, Alaska| Photo: Shutterstock

    Alaska SeaLife Center, Alaska

    - Location: Seward, Alaska
    - Opened: 1998
    - Exhibits: Focuses on Alaskan marine ecosystems, showcasing local marine wildlife like seals and sea lions.
    - Special Characteristics: It combines public aquarium features with marine research and rehabilitation.

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  • Oregon Coast Aquarium, Oregon| Photo: Shutterstock

    Oregon Coast Aquarium, Oregon

    - Location: Newport, Oregon
    - Opened: 1992
    - Exhibits: Known for its exhibits on the Oregon coast and the impressive Passages of the Deep shark tunnel.
    - Special Characteristics: The aquarium's focus on local species and habitats, along with its rehabilitation efforts, makes it unique.

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