15 Best Aquariums in America To Add to Your Bucket List

Don’t miss out on seeing these unique, engaging aquariums during summer break.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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Summer break is on the way, and you're likely on the lookout for activities and travel plans that are a good fit for the whole family. Aquariums can be a great option.

Not only are aquariums entertaining and educational, but they're also often air-conditioned. So, step up your travel game and add one of these aquariums to your itinerary this year.

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Oregon Coast Aquarium

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With so much native marine life to show off, coastal states are bound to have stunning aquariums — and Oregon is no exception.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport features birds, fish, marine mammals, and more that are local to the Pacific coast. Fun exhibits include a shark tunnel and an octopus cave.

Mystic Aquarium

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The Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, has several special fish and aquatic creatures on display.

Featured animals include beluga whales, African penguins, seals and sea lions, a giant Pacific octopus, and sharks. The aquarium also has an Undersea Explorer virtual reality experience.

Alaska SeaLife Center

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The Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska, is an aquarium, research center, and rescue and rehabilitation center for marine wildlife.

Animals include seals, sea lions, and many varieties of birds and fish.

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Shark Reef Aquarium

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If you visit aquariums for the sharks, head to Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas to see the Shark Reef Aquarium.

The truly adventurous can even swim with sharks at this aquarium. There are more than 2,000 other species of animals on display.

Georgia Aquarium

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The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is dedicated to providing educationally enriching entertainment, as well as promoting conservation efforts and research.

The aquarium offers several interactive experiences, including scuba diving and swimming with manta rays and whale sharks.

Long Island Aquarium

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If you want a truly unique aquarium experience, head to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, New York. There, you'll find rays, seahorses, moray eels, and moon jellies, as well as non-aquatic creatures such as butterflies, bees, marmosets, and more.

You can also participate in interactive experiences, from diving with sharks to a pirate snorkel and swimming with mermaids.

Newport Aquarium

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The Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, features exhibits that include shark rays and alligators.

Touch sharks and stingrays, or meet a penguin. The Newport Aquarium also features mermaid shows during the summer.

Seattle Aquarium

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The Seattle Aquarium in Seattle is dedicated to fun experiences and conservation education.

Some of the creatures you can visit at the Seattle Aquarium include tufted puffin, rockfish, sturgeon, dwarf cuttlefish, harbor seals, and more.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, has several exhibits arranged by habitat, including everything from the open sea to a stunning kelp forest.

Check out the deep sea exhibit featuring isopods and glowing jellies.

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New England Aquarium

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On the Atlantic coast, you will find the New England Aquarium in Boston. There are many marine animals to see here, including penguins, piranhas, sea lions, seals, octopi, and more.

The aquarium also has a reputation for studying right whales, sea turtles, and sharks.

Texas State Aquarium

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The Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi has engaging exhibits focused on ocelots, coral reefs, jungle animals, sharks, swamp creatures, and more.

You can also swim with sharks and feed the fish with staff.

Audubon Aquarium

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The Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans features both exotic fish and marine wildlife, as well as local animals.

The Down the Bayou exhibit places the spotlight on alligators, birds, frogs, turtles, and more. Consider checking out the next-door Audubon Insectarium for further summer fun.

OdySea Aquarium

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Visit the OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, Arizona, for a variety of engaging exhibits, including a deep-sea exhibit that you experience by riding an escalator through an underwater tunnel.

You can also interact with sloths and penguins, as well as participate in tank dives.

Shedd Aquarium

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Experience aquatic wildlife from around the world and local to the Midwest at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Explore exhibits with themes such as Oceanarium, Wild Reef, Polar Play Zone, and more. You can also learn all about the marine life of the Great Lakes, including touching the armored skin of a lake sturgeon.

New York Aquarium

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The New York Aquarium in Brooklyn features exhibits focused on invertebrates and sharks. Conservation Hall lets you explore many different habitats teeming with fish.

You can enjoy touch pool and aquatheater shows, as well as wild encounters with penguins, sea lions, and sharks.

Bottom line

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There is certainly no shortage of fun and engaging aquariums across the country that you can visit this summer.

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Lucy Clark

Lucy Clark has considerable experience writing about real estate, as well as homes and gardens, home value, and more. She is savvy and resourceful, and she aims to ensure others can be, as well.