The twins love all kinds of animals from bugs to kangaroos, from snakes to dinosaurs and from fish to bats. However, of all the different kinds of animal exhibits and environments we have visited worldwide, I always know that aquaria will offer the highest certainty of attention-gripping enthusiasm. The quality of aquaria worldwide is high and always improving. And of course, there is a perennial magic about the slow-motion mystery of underwater life illuminated by its unique colours and textures. Read about the best aquariums in the world visited and described for you by other bloggers.
We can never get enough of aquariums and we visit lots of them in Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and yet there are so many great examples, so I have asked my fellow travel bloggers to contribute their own favourites. This post represents a wish-list for my family and I hope it will inspire you too as much as it excites us.
The Best Aquariums in Europe
Lisbon Aquarium is the largest in Europe and has been inspired by the oceans, both inside and out. The aquarium sits over two gigantic floors, with an enormous central 5 million litre tank. This tank is the home to an array of marine creatures including blacktip sharks, rays and the huge ocean sunfish.
You start the visit on the aquarium’s top floor, which displays the aquatic life that lives above ground. The first area you visit is the North Atlantic. It covers waters from Iceland to other islands around the world. You can find here the beautiful Puffins, several starfish and razorbills after that are the colder sections of the Antarctic, where a colony of penguins are sure to keep you entertained! However, your real treat is up next in the Pacific section, here a pair of Sea Otters reside. Otters are spending their days floating around their fantastic pool and looking cute. You may be lucky enough to catch them during feeding time when they dive to the crayfish and crabs given to them.
By the end, you will get a real appreciation of the massive tank that sits in the centre, filled with species from the tropical waters, including sharks, guitarfish and, as mentioned, the incredible sunfish!
Entry prices to the aquarium are not too bad at €14 for adults and €9 for children. You can probably see the whole aquarium in around half a day. But if you get stuck with the adorable otters, don’t blame us if it takes all day!
Contributed by Laura from The Travelling Stomach
The L’Aquarium in Barcelona is one of the largest aquarium in Europe and one of the essential aquariums for research, particularly on Mediterranean fish species. The aquarium is located right on the water, at the harbour of Port Vell, and attracts over 1.5 million visitors every year.
There are dozens of small aquariums spread out across L’Aquarium with hundreds of different species of fish. One of the most exciting parts of the aquarium is the 80-meter-long moving walkway that takes visitors through the underwater tanks. The walkway opens up into the Oceanarium which is home to numerous different kinds of animals including a variety of rays, sharks, eels and fish.
The aquarium also has unique shark experiences. One of them is the shark diving experience, where you can scuba dive in a metal shark cage enclosure down into one of the tanks that feature larger sharks. This experience is one of the most popular in the aquarium and reservations must be made in advance. There is also an overnight shark experience where children and adults can stay the night in the aquarium. During the night the kids can take part in a variety of activities to learn about sharks, their behaviour, and their way of life.
The aquarium also has a fantastic children’s area with specially designed exhibits to get children excited about marine life. Over 50 activities engage children, including many sensory activities. There is also a slide, a bubble tank and many other things for kids to explore.
Barcelona aquarium is open year-round, though times vary. Entrance is free for visitors who have the Barcelona pass. In the summer the ques to enter may get very long, though a purchase of a fast pass is possible prior to entry. Current prices are 21 euro for adults, 16 euro for children ages 5-10, 8 euro for children ages 3-4, and children under three and free. There are also options to purchase a family pass.
Best deals on tickets to Barcelona Aquarium
Contributed by Diana from Travels in Germany
Must see while in Europe – European Landmarks
The Oceanographic, Valencia – Spain
The Oceanographic is part of the ambitious avant-garde project City of Arts and Sciences of the famous architect Santiago Calatrava. It is located in Valencia, Spain and it’s the largest aquarium in Europe. A visit to the Oceanographic is one of the best things to do in Valencia as it meticulously reproduces some of the most interesting marine ecosystems.
During your visit, you can stroll through the longest underwater tunnel in Europe, while admiring the dangerous sharks around you, glad for the thick glass between you and some of the most dangerous but fascinating predators on the planet. You can also see the only family of Beluga wales in Europe. Plus many other species like the Aldabra giant tortoises, the magical Barrel jellyfish, the big-belly seahorse, and the Blackchin guitarfish.
While visiting the Oceanographic, I recommend you to have a meal at the Submarine Restaurant. It is one of the five restaurants available on the premises, however, a meal here will be one of the most memorable you will ever have.
You can buy tickets online starting at €30.70 or you can get even better rates by purchasing a combined ticket (Oceanographic + Hemispheric + Museum of Science Principe Filipe).
The Oceanographic is usually opened between 10 am and 6 pm, however, if you want to stay after hours, they organize sleepovers for families with children. All you need is a minimum of 15 people to participate. This activity starts at 8 pm and includes a gymkhana, dinner, a magical sleepover with the sharks, breakfast and a visit of the whole marine park on the following day.
Contributed by Laura of Travelers Universe
Haus des Meeres Aqua Terra Zoo, Vienna
The Haus des Meeres (literally translated house of the sea) Aqua Terra Zoo in the Austrian capital of Vienna is the only aquarium in the world that’s inside a former World War II flak tower. Today, the prominent structure in Esterhazypark is home to more than 10,000 creatures living both underwater and on land.
The biggest aquarium in the Haus des Meeres Aqua Terra Zoo is without a doubt the shark tank. It contains 300,000 litres of water. At the time of building, a giant piece of concrete had to be cut out of the bunker to make room for it.
Other aquariums inside the Haus des Meeres Aqua Terra Zoo include a tank for freshwater fish and a deepsea aquarium. You’ll see here some strange looking creatures living hundreds of metres under the sea.
When you’re tired of looking at fish and water creatures, the crocodiles, monkeys and fruit bats in the Emmerich Schlosser-Krokipark and the tropical house are sure to keep you entertained. And don’t forget to stop at the 9th floor open air terrace to enjoy the 360-degree views of Vienna.
Vienna’s House of the Sea is one of the most popular privately-owned attractions in the city. It’s also one of the top things to do with kids in Vienna, and perfect to include in your itinerary, especially on a rainy day.
Contributed by Linda de Beer from Travel Tyrol
Aquarium de Paris
Most people, when they visit Paris, are too busy marvelling at the Eiffel Tower to realize that just a few meters away is one of the largest aquariums in France. That’s because it is underground. Wedged
between the Eiffel Tower and Trocadero, off to one side, is a rather small entrance to the Aquarium de Paris.
Built underground, the Aquarium was constructed at the same time as the Eiffel Tower in 1867. But it underwent a massive 21-year renovation to reopen in 2006. Today, the Aquarium covers an area of
3.5km and houses over 10,000 different species of fish. Giant shark tanks, alien-like octopuses, little seahorses, there are a wide variety of sea creatures to look in awe at. And if your little ones like getting their hands wet, there is even a touch pool.
Along with regular drawing and art workshops for children, the Aquarium also often has partnerships and exhibitions with different cartoon characters such as Peppa Pig. If you are a parent of toddlers, you may have watched the Peppa episodes where she travels to Australia and the Great Barrier Reef! These episodes were played on repeat at the Aquarium to teach children about ocean life.
Other special events for adults include champagne on Friday evenings, or a champagne buffet with dinner on Saturday night at the restaurant inside. There are also often art exhibitions, featuring various local artists who interpret ocean-related themes.
Admission prices for a regular visit are €20.50/adult, €16 for kids aged 13-17, and €13 for kids aged 3-So if you are planning a trip to Paris with children, treat them to a trip to the Aquarium de Paris.
After you visit the Eiffel Tower, of course! Best deals on tickets to Paris Aquarium
Contributed by Nassie at Snippets of Paris
Best Aquariums in Asia
Right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is the excellent KLCC Aquaria. Right next to KLCC park and the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, this world-class aquarium is filled with native Southeast Asian marine animals in carefully recreated habitats.
Aquaria KLCC is divided into ten sections, including shipwreck, coastal and flooded forest zones. A favourite is the Weird and Wonderful Zone where visitors can meet saucer-shaped Moon Jellies who glow in their dimly lit tank.
This fabulous aquarium is home to the longest underwater tunnel in Malaysia. The tunnel is unsurprisingly a huge hit with little ones who will want to go through it again and again! Look upwards as you ride the travelator and you will see the mesmerising sight of Green Sea Turtles, Tawny Nurse Sharks, Stingrays and Giant Groupers swimming above.
There are plenty of hands-on activities like the Touch Pool, where children can (carefully) handle starfish and other sea creatures. Feeding times are scheduled throughout the day so visitors can easily plan what shows they would like to see. The aquarium also hosts many ocean-related events. For wannabe marine biologists and divers, they offer the unforgettable opportunity to dive and ‘sleep’ with the sharks.
The aquarium is very accessible with elevators for those who can’t use stairs. All signs are in English, so being able to understand isn’t a problem and friendly staff willing to answer any questions.
Currently, Aquaria KLCC costs RM69 for adults and RM59 for children aged 3 to 12. Under twos are free. There are significant discounts available online, so it is best to buy tickets in advance. A family visit is definitely worth it as KLCC Aquaria is one of the best things to do in KL with kids.
Contributed by Kirsty from World for a Girl
Are you planning visit in Thailand – read our guide to Bangkok with Kids
Sea Life Bangkok
With literally thousands of weird and exciting marine animals to discover, Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World makes an ideal outing for the whole family. The third-largest aquarium in Southeast Asia is spread over two fascinating levels within the Siam Paragon Shopping Mall in the heart of Bangkok.
Discover life under the water by exploring multiple distinct zones, all of which are pram-friendly. There’s Rocky Hideout with its cleverly camouflaged and bizarre-looking creatures such as the Giant Spider Crab. Kids will love walking on the clear-glass floor beneath which slow-moving sharks swim back and forth. There are plenty of free activities and informative presentations happening around the clock, including daily shark feeding and a diver underwater talk.
With interactive displays, children can get up close and personal with starfish, urchins and hermit crabs in the small rock pools in the Rocky Shore zone. Kids can pop into small glass domes for a face-to-face encounter with Clown, Angel and Lionfish before marvelling at the colourful corals, shy seahorses and undulating, fluorescent jellyfish nearby.
While Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World is free for children under three years old, adults cost 981 Baht (USD 32) and children (3-11 years) cost 801 Baht (USD 26). However, there are savings to be made if you take advantage of weekday early bird specials by checking in before noon. With a giant ocean tunnel, glass-floored shark walk, tropical rainforest and small, onsite playground, Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World have something for both adults and children alike and is one of the best things to do in Bangkok with kids.
Contributed by Marie from A Life Without Borders
Read what to do in Dubai with kids
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Visiting the Dubai Mall is a popular Middle East experience in itself, but it is also home to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. It houses the largest suspended tank in the world, measuring 51meters long, 20 meters wide and 11 meters high! In order to hold all that water, the acrylic is 75cm thick! It is truly massive and just like most of Dubai, sensation overload with thousands of fish, sharks, rays and other marine life!
Just like much of Dubai, there are regular tickets and VIP tickets (with skip the line access, etc.). They also offer tours and behind the scenes experiences from scuba diving in the tank to a shark encounter. This one gives you time in the tank with the sharks as well as insight into the mall’s shark breeding. They aim to dispel common myths about sharks and showcase their importance in our ocean’s ecosystems!
One of the cool things about the Dubai Aquarium is that you can see the massive tank from the mall! It costs nothing to look at it from the second or third levels while you shop until you drop!
Buying a ticket and getting inside gives you a different perspective as you can walk through the tank tunnel and visit the Underwater zoo. It is home to penguins, otters turtles and several unusual fish! If you want less crowds, plan a morning visit, and stay away from Friday afternoons. Friday and Saturday are the weekends in Dubai, and everything is VERY busy on Friday afternoons and evenings!
Cost for entry depends on the day and whether you want to include an animal encounter. Before you purchase, ensure you read what each ticket level gets you. The basic explorer ticket is AED175 (Monday-Wednesday) if purchased online in advance. Children under 3 years old are free.
Contributed by Lindsay from Step into Jordan
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Okinawa’s Churaumi Aquarium is widely considered to be Japan’s best aquarium. This is in part because of the spectacular Tank which houses a wide variety of fish and other sea life. Most impressive are the giant whale sharks and the manta rays.
Upon entering the aquarium, visitors have the chance to touch live starfish as well as seashells with their own hands. An experience especially appreciated by young visitors.
Outside the aquarium, itself are tanks where dolphin shows are held.
The aquarium is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from October to February and 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from March to September.
The general admission for adults is 1880 yen, for high school students 1250 yen and for elementary school and junior high school students, it is 620 yen. Entry is free for children under six years of age. Late admission tickets after 4 p.m. are also available for a discount. You can buy ticket online for further discounts.
Okinawa Aquarium is the main attraction of the Ocean Expo Park in the north of Okinawa 90 minutes from Okinawa’s main city Naha. There are multiple direct buses every hour that connect Naha and the Ocean Expo Park.
Contributed by Lena from Nagoya Foodie
Best Aquariums Around the world – Pin it for later
The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is located on the city fringe near the port. It takes about 30 minutes by subway to get to the aquarium from the central city.
Osaka Aquarium has an unusual vertical structure over eight floors. You start from the roof with the simulated forest and spiral your way down from the surface through the levels to the seabed at the bottom. The full depth through the centre of the building is the ‘Pacific Ocean’ tank where you can see the ocean creatures changing as you descend to different depths. This unique layout and the whale sharks housed in the central tank are what Osaka Aquarium is best known for.
There are other tanks and displays too. You can see pufferfish, hypnotic jellyfish and Japanese spider crabs which are the largest crab in the world. There are also penguins, sea lions and dolphins on display.
The interactive area for children is quite large, and they can get up close and touch small sharks, rays and starfish. There are interactive zone displays too including an Arctic Zone where you feel the cool of the icy environment and can see and hear the ringed seals over the top of the glass surrounds. From below you can watch them swim through the large ceiling dome.
The entry fee is Y2300 with discounts for seniors and children based on age. You can buy cheaper tickets online in advance. There are benches to sit and take a break and a small café but for something to eat and drink you might prefer to head across to the adjacent Tempozan Marketplace. You can get a stamp on your hand before leaving the aquarium that allows you to re-enter again that day.
Contributed by Toni from 2 Aussie Travellers
Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Zhuhai
The Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is a theme park development in Hengqin. While it is located in Zhuhai, China in Canton Province, the park is closer to Macau, conveniently connected the tourist area of Taipa through the Lotus Bridge.
The Chimelong Group is a Chinese amusement park operator with resorts and developments across China. The park is crowned the most-visited water park in the world – consider the sheer volume of the Chinese population!
I am not a huge theme park fan myself, but the park has an excellent collection for bringing children to see a wide variety of exotic wildlife. It’s not limited to marine lives like whales, sharks, dolphins, seals, stingrays, penguins, and belugas, but also manatee, primates, brown bears to polar bears. For a highlight, the park also features the native Chinese white dolphins that reside in the Pearl River Delta between Macau and Hong Kong. My favourite exhibits are beluga and polar bear pavilions. They are not commonly seen in an aquarium, and in here visitors could even observe them from below through the tank!
Finally, the underwater viewing dome and tunnels are impressive. It holds the record for being the largest (along with the largest aquarium tank, and the largest acrylic panel) in the Guinness Book of World Records. The tank holds 12.87 million gallons of volume as you could see schools of fish, stingrays, whale sharks, and much more circulating in the water.
With the addition of roller coaster rides, animal shows in the theatres, and resort hotels, a family could easily spend a day or two in the park for a short getaway.
Contributed by Kenny from Knycx Journeying
S.E.A Aquarium – Singapore
S.E.A. in Singapore is one of the best aquariums we have visited. Its located on Sentosa Island just next to Universal Studio and its an excellent alternative if you don’t like crazy rides or even more when it is rainy.
The aquarium looks like its design for young visitors. It’s full of activities for children as well as touch pools and other educational places.
My favourite places in the aquarium (each member of the family ha different place) was the giant aquarium. The glass panel in front through which you observe sharks, flying mantis and other 100,000 different sea creatures is 36m by 8.3m. To help you imagine it is as big as eight double-decker buses. The thickness of the glass is 70 cm.
I spent more than 40 minutes sitting and staring at the fishes while girls were preoccupied with the aquarium entertainment. Girls only joined me for feeding time – you can observe divers feeding fishes, which was followed with an exciting talk about marine life.
Tania’s favourite was a tunnel with sharks; apparently, when a shark swims above or around you, you can look right into his eyes.
Zoe was mesmerized by jellyfish displays. She loved how the tanks were lit and how jellyfishes were changing colour following changing light.
Favourite of all of us was the ocean view apartments – you can see them through the tank. It’s a hotel apartment which bedroom has a window into the tank with sharks.
Entry to S.E.A. Aquarium cost S$29 for child and S$40 for an adult. You can book cheaper tickets online. Tickets are valid for the whole day so you can leave the aquarium and come back again, just remember to get the hand stamp at the gate. Visit to S.E.A. Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Singapore with kids.
Contributed by Ania from The Travelling Twins
Singapore is a perfect and safe place for a family holiday. When planning your visit, know about things to do in Singapore – Read our guide
Under the Sun Aquarium, Udaipur, India
Under the Sun aquarium in Udaipur is the largest fish aquarium in India. It is located near the Lake Fatehsagar Paal. The aquarium has approximately 180 species of fish of both marine and freshwater.
Many species of fishes have been brought from around the world (South America, Brazil, China, Thailand, etc.). They also have some rare fishes like Mormyrus Rume, Alligator Gars, Marine Water Stingray, Senegal Dragons, Puffer Fish, Archer Fish and other sea creatures like – Sea Urchins, Sea Anemone, Fire Belly Newts, Indonesian Mud Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Albino frogs, Fresh Water Scampi and more. There is a marine section where you can see a variety of amazing and unique brackish water fish.
The aquarium also houses the World’s First Aqua Trick Art Museum by World Renowned Artist Mr AP Sreethar. It costs just 2$ to click a picture. They also have the OMG Tank, the only fish tank in India where you can get inside and experience life underwater, without getting wet. Interaction with fishes at the touch pool is very mesmerizing. It also houses India’s First Aqua Live Virtual Reality Experiences- for feeling sea life in an immersive 360-degree environment. You can also go for a fish manicure.
You can also see various plants that are grown through the waste of fishes. It is known as Aquaponics, where the marine elements and agriculture are combined to created healthy plants.
The experience at the aquarium is a great one, along with being knowledgeable and innovative.
Contributed by Shalini Garnaik from Eager 2 Travel
Best Aquariums in America
SHEDD AQUARIUM, Chicago
Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium is genuinely worth visiting with kids. It has more than 32,000 species of marine creatures, lots of live shows, touch and feel, and a couple of exciting 4D movies on underwater life. Visit Shedd Aquarium to see dolphins, penguins, beluga whales, lake Michigan fish, pet the stingrays, Great Barrier Reef creatures, Amazon’s underwater habitats, and many more interesting things. It is a perfect family outing with lot many marine exhibits, and also you can see unique dolphin shows at specific time intervals. Not only the Aquarium but the location of it also makes worth visiting. The view of Chicago skyline from the grounds of Shedd Aquarium is stunning. Also, the gardens surrounding the Aquarium are perfect for family outing and picnic. As it is located on Lake, you get excellent views of boats sailing around you while you eat the aquarium café. So, Shedd Aquarium should be your must do thing in Chicago with kids.
The main exhibits are Caribbean Reef, At the home on the Great Lakes, Amazon Rising, Wild Reef, Abbott Oceanarium, 4D Movie theaters, Polar Play Zone, Stingray Exhibit,
Shedd Aquarium is included in CityPass, but if you purchase individually then for Adults it is 39.95USD, and for children, it is 29.95 (ages 3 to 11). If you want to watch the 4D movie then extra charges you have to pay, but if you purchase city pass, then Shedd Aquarium with 4D movie tickets are included in it. Chicago Residents get a discount. It opens daily from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Since during the weekends and holidays Aquarium is crowded, the best time to visit is weekdays.
Contributed by Yukti Agrawal from Travel with me 24/7
Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium- Sarasota, Florida
The Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida, is one of the best aquariums in the world. It should be at the top of your list of things to do when visiting Sarasota with kids. Mote is unique from other aquariums in that it’s “working aquarium” with a variety of research and conservation efforts occurring onsite. The marine life at Mote is diverse, and the main building includes coral reefs, sharks and an abundance of fish. One of the unique things about Mote is that you can walk up above the vast tank and watch the water life from above. There are also two touch tanks, including a large stingray tank that’s a favourite of kids.
The second building at Mote Aquarium is known as the Marine Mammal Center. One of our favourite attractions at the Mote aquarium was watching the river otters be trained and fed. The turtle tanks were another favourite. They contained a variety of turtle species as well as a tunnel that kids can climb around. There, you can find several different rescued animals, with anything from alligators to manatees. There’s also an entire floor dedicated to the babies of different species, that were born at the aquarium.
Mote Aquarium is open from 10 am- 5 pm daily. Visitors at Mote Aquarium should expect to spend a few hours to get through the entire aquarium. Tickets cost $24 for adults and $18 for children. Kids under 3 are free at Mote Aquarium. There is also ample parking at Mote available for free.
Contributed by Amanda from Toddling Traveler
Monterey Bay Aquarium
If we’re discussing best aquariums around the world, you simply must include the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California. This incredible family friendly aquarium is one of the most popular things to do in Monterey. It allows visitors of all ages to get up close and personal with a vast variety of marine life.
Daily admission costs are $49.95 for an adult, $39.95 for seniors, $39.95 for students 13-17 years old or with college ID, $29.95 for children 3-12 years old, and free for children under three years old. There are as well available annual memberships. The aquarium is wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly. By buying tickets in advance you will avoid standing in the long queues.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a wide array of daily shows, animal feedings, and exhibits all inspiring you to learn more about their mission of ocean conservation. You absolutely cannot miss at least one of the scheduled feedings for the penguins, sea otters, or residents of the kelp forest. Because the aquarium is located on the Monterey Bay, you also have the opportunity to see marine life like sea otters, humpback whales, and even white shark in their natural habitat from the viewing deck of the aquarium. They even do feedings in the open water daily as well! Also, children will love their water play area and the 40-foot touch pool, which is home to sea stars, abalones, crabs, and more!
Our family favourite was watching the scuba divers interact with the kids while they were cleaning the tanks and the African penguin feeding! In our opinion, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the United States!
Contributed by Julie from More than Main Street
Dallas World Aquarium
Dallas-Ft Worth is such a great travel destination. I mean, there are so many things to do in Dallas that you could easily stay busy for months here. A very popular and highly recommended attraction is one of the best aquariums in the world, the Dallas World Aquarium. Located in the West End Historic District, the Dallas World Aquarium is a treat for kids and adults.
Your adventure begins when you enter at the top of the three-story rainforest exhibit, and you are immediately greeted with tropical plants and exotic birds! As you continue to venture through the display, you will encounter monkeys, playful river otters, crocodiles, and sloths! Be sure and check the schedule as keepers will give daily talks and feedings to allow you to learn more about the animals!
Once you reach the lower level of the aquarium, you find yourself immersed in sea life. Adults and children will enjoy the 40-foot shark tunnel that you can walk through and be literally surrounded by sea life. Throughout the sea life portion of the aquarium, visitors can get face-to-face with sharks, manatees, sea turtles, fish, seahorses, stingrays, and even penguins! Honestly, the Dallas World Aquariums is a great way to spend the day in Dallas.
The Dallas World Aquarium is open daily from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day when they are closed. Admission at the time of posting is:
- Adult- 20.95 + tax
- Child- $14.95 + tax (ages 2-12)
- Senior- $16.95 (65+)
Contributed by Michelle of That Texas Couple
The Georgia Aquarium, Altanta
Atlanta is famous for a lot of things like the 1996 Olympics, a thriving music scene, and terrible traffic. But many people don’t know it is also home to The Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the United States and one of the largest aquariums in the world.
The admission fee is rather hefty at 28.95 for kids and 32.95. But there’s so much to do in the aquarium that a family could spend all day inside. Millions of people are willing to pay the admission fee each year. It’s best to buy tickets in advance online because the lines to purchase tickets at the aquarium can get long if school or summer camp groups are visiting.
The Georgia Aquarium is divided into galleries, and each gallery has its theme. Cold Water Quest is one of the most popular galleries because of the penguins. Kids (and adults who are kids at heart) can wiggle through tunnels that lead you right next to the penguins. In these tunnels, the children will be separated from the birds by only a thin wall of plastic. There are many other ways for kids to interact with animals at the aquarium, like a touch pool, an acrylic tunnel where you can walk underneath giant manta rays, and daily dolphin shows. There’s even a 4D movie theatre included with the price of admission. But watch out! You could get splashed with water during the movie.
The most special animal in the aquarium is the mighty whale shark. The Georgia Aquarium is the only aquarium in the US with whale sharks. These animals were rescued by the aquarium from Taiwan where they sadly were about to be eaten. No child who sees these majestic creatures will ever forget it!
Contributed by Stella Jane from Around the World in 24 hours
Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium
While I have visited various aquariums around the United States, it typically isn’t a must-do for me when traveling. However, I can honestly say that the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium is one that shouldn’t be missed!
Located among the many Mall of America attractions, this aquarium is just like the Mall itself-grand and fascinating! As I looked around, kids were oohing and aahing, and adults were captivated with all of the stunning visuals. I was one of those adults. I’m fairly sure I was hypnotized mesmerized by the Plastic Bag Jellies, a species of jellyfish I had never heard of!
For me, what sets the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium apart from others is the types of exhibits offered. There are the usual touch pool and ray lagoon where you can feed stingrays. But also, there are cool experiences such as a two-and-a-half-story rainforest, sleeping under the sharks where you can spend the night in an ocean tunnel, and even a snorkel adventure! Be on the lookout for different seasonal experiences offered as well.
Regular admission starts at $25.99 for adults and $18.99 for kids ages 3-12 if you purchase at the door. However, buy your tickets online to save $6 per adult ticket.
Contributed by Helen from Trimm Travels
The California Science Center
The Aquarium in the California Science centre is part of a permanent ecosystem exhibition. The different ecosystems are featured in eight environmental zones. Each zone displays a different ecological principle, from deserts and urban areas to polar zones and of course also different aquatic zones.
There are all aquatic zones: rivers, ponds and the deep sea. The scientific exhibits are very well put together. They explain how everything within an ecosystem depends on each other. What effects water pressure is having on objects or how tides are working.
In the heart of the aquatic zone is a giant kelp tank keeping the entire ecosystem of a kelp forest. The kelp algae are growing like underwater trees and giving home to plenty of animals; sharks, eels, rockfish, lobsters and many more. To simulate a natural ocean water movement, a wave machine is in place. The best features of the 188,000 gallon kelp tank is the shark tunnel that allows you to observe the submarine life up close. It’s very impressive and scary to be so close to the sharks swimming all around you!
Another great feature of the aquatic ecosystem zone is the touch tank! Visit the rock shore ecosystem section and get really close to urchins, starfishes or limpets. There’s always an educator from the Science Center around to answer all questions, and maybe you get lucky and are around during feeding time! In any case, you surely can carefully touch the animals.
The California Science Center is located in the Exposition Park of Los Angeles, and the admission is free.
Contributed by Lena from Salute from Paris
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is a must-do when visiting New Orleans with kids. You’ll find the aquarium alongside the Mississippi River not far from the French Quarter. Save USD 3 on the gate price by purchasing tickets online. Tickets can be bundled with a visit to the Audubon Zoo or Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. The later is only a short walk from the aquarium and has lots of hands-on displays.
The Aquarium tickets also include admission to the Entergy Giant Screen Theatre. A massive high definition movie screen which shows larger than life, immersive, nature films throughout the day.
The vast 400 000-gallon Gulf of Mexico tank is the highlight of the aquarium with a full display of fish, stingray, sharks and rescued turtles swimming freely throughout the display.
The Amazon rainforest exhibit is home to parakeets and piranha’s and shows the synergy of the rainforest and river ecosystems.
A touch pool allows kids to stroke and pat small stingrays. The stingrays happily swim up and underneath fingers dangling into the water, and even my nervous 5-year-old enjoyed this experience.
There are penguin, otter and sea horse displays. One of the unique displays is the Mississippi River and Louisiana Swamp exhibit with alligators, snapping turtles and other river monsters as well as rescued birds of prey.
For another interactive experience at Parakeet Point, a free-flight bird enclosure on the 2nd-floor families can purchase feeding sticks to feed the birds homed here.
Contributed by Kaylie Lewell from HAPPINESS TRAVELS HERE
The Dig at Atlantis in the Bahamas is not your typical aquarium. Of course, it has stunning displays of exotic fish, but they also allow visitors to snorkel in the tanks.
They offer a 30-minute snorkelling experience in the Ruins Lagoon. Guests can swim by artefacts inspired by ancient Atlantis and see some of the fish inside the Dig. While the Dig may be smaller than some of the other aquariums on this list, but it still has 100 venomous Lionfish, iridescent jellyfish, nine species of groupers, six-foot Moray Eels, lobsters, and more. They also have a tank that is filled with conch, starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and crabs where you can touch the animals. Additionally, there are daily feedings that guests can watch.
To visit the Dig, you will either need to be staying at Atlantis, Comfort Suites Paradise Island, or the One&Only Ocean Club Resort Bahamas or purchase a day pass. There are various levels of passes, the cheapest being about $40 per adult. This pass allows you to explore the grounds of Atlantis including the Dig but does not include access to the Atlantis pools, beaches, or the Aquaventure water park. The snorkelling experience must be booked separately. Some of the proceeds go to support the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation, which is working on various marine conservation projects.
Contributed by Anisa from 2 Traveling Texans
The Waikiki Aquarium – Hawaii
The Waikiki Aquarium will never win any awards for its size, but it is a perfect addition to your Hawaiian vacation. Located on Oahu and adjacent to Waikiki Beach, it is one of the popular things to do in Honolulu. It houses plenty of local species of fish, as well as some foreigners!
It has limited hours, 9 am-4:30 pm and costs USD12 for adults and USD5 for children (4-12). Children 3 and under are free.
Keep an eye out for the seahorses. They are beautiful to watch as they move around in the tank! They are also much smaller then most people expect! Other containers include jellyfish, poisonous lionfish and tanks showing underwater life on the Hawaiian Islands.
The Hawaiian monk seal habitat houses a few rescued monk seals, who were not able to be rehabilitated and released to the wild. They put on a few small demonstrations each day.
The living reef exhibit has a hand’s on an area where you see fish and marine life that is common off the shores of Hawaii. Keep an eye out for the pufferfish!
Due to its size, the Waikiki Aquarium can be done in about an hour, but makes a great midday activity to escape the hot Hawaiian sun! It is quite popular with young children (and their parents). It does have an indoor and outdoor section, so keep that in mind! The outdoor section has scheduled demonstrations throughout the day with its rescued residents and the popular living reef tide pools!
Contributed by Lindsay Nieminen from Carpe Diem OUR Way
Best Aquariums in the World – Toronto, Canada
Located in the heart of Toronto close to the city’s biggest attractions, Ripley’s Aquarium is one of the most impressive aquariums I’ve ever been to. The aquarium is set over two floors and boasts over 100 dynamic and interactive displays, six-play zones for children, four touch pools, and unique experiences for every age. It’s home to over 16,000 marine animals from all over the world, including 450 species of fish.
Its greatest exhibition is the Dangerous Lagoon, the largest tank in the building (holds 2.9 million liters of water!), built as an underwater tunnel. You can marvel there at local residents including 17 sharks of 3 species, eel, stingrays and sea turtle. The unique design is a hit with all visitors, especially the younger one. It allows you to experience the tank from a moving sidewalk that’s 315 feet long.
Take your time exploring the Canadian Waters display and teach your kids about marine life in Canadian waters. Here, you’ll find 17 exhibits displaying aquatic animals from three oceans and great lakes.
Another exhibit you’ll likely spend a lot of time exploring is Ray Bay. You can interact here with stingrays (for free), get in the water with them, or even snorkel (add-on). The cool in-water experience is open to kids over six years old and includes a souvenir, photos and a behind the scenes tour of the aquarium. If you are craving more adventure? You can book a family sleepover and sleep under the Dangerous Lagoon!
General admission starts at CAD 33 plus tax for adults and CAD 10 for kids.
Contributed by Ioana from The World is My Playgroung
Best Aquariums in Australia
Sea Life Melbourne
Sea Life Melbourne is a popular attraction for families visiting this cosmopolitan Australian city. Situated in the city’s CBD on the Yarra River and located just across from the Crown Entertainment Centre, it is easy to get to and promises a day filled with aquatic adventure.
The aquarium is spread over four floors featuring a vast array of aquatic environments, and their creatures. It has something for everyone. Exhibits include sharks, rays, turtles, colourful reef fish, a saltwater crocodile, a mermaid garden, coral caves, mangroves, rockpools, a rainforest adventure, penguins and 4D movie cinema as well as an interactive toddler space.
On our trip to Sea Life Melbourne, our son was especially enamoured by the large rays and turtles which reminded him of his favourite movie Moana. He also loved the Ice Age 4D cinema experience and adored the cute penguins.
The interactive Discovery Rockpools are also exciting for children, allowing them to get their hands wet and touch sea stars and shark eggs if they dare!
The aquarium’s café has a good selection of food for lunch, including healthy options for children. With so much to see, we recommend you put aside at least a few hours for a visit.
Open 365 days of the year; the aquarium costs approximately $42 (Aus) for adults and $28 for a child. We recommend you book online, where you can save up to $10 off your entry fee. As it is an indoor aquarium, Sea Life Melbourne is ideally suited to any weather.
Best Deals on tickets to Melbourn Aquarium.
Contributed by Stephanie from Navigating Adventure
Sea Life Aquarium – Sydney
We love the Sea Life Aquarium in Darling Harbour as it is easy to get around and packed with gorgeous colourful fish! Sea Life is a well-presented fish-filled aquarium that gives visitors an insight into the great diversity in Australia’s waters.
Highlights of the aquarium for our kids were ‘Shark Valley’ where you walk through an underwater tunnel and sharks and stingrays swim overhead. We also enjoyed watching the Dugongs being fed with lettuce and learning more about them. The kids also loved the Penguin expedition to Antarctica! We spent over 2 hours at the aquarium, and it would be hard to pick just one highlight, there were so many parts we thoroughly enjoyed Sea Life Aquarium entry as part of a three attraction pass which included a trip up the Sydney Eye and entry to Sydney Wildlife. We thought that this combination was excellent value for money and would especially recommend it to any first time visitors to Australia.
Sea Life Aquarium is located in attractive Darling Harbour. We would also recommend to have some extra time to walk through this atmospheric area of Sydney. You can as well catch the ferry around Sydney Harbour so you can get a feel for this beautiful City.
Best deals on tickets to Sydney Aquarium
Contributed by Ariana from World of Travels with Kids
The Queensland city of Cairns is the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and the Wet Tropics Rainforest, two amazing World Heritage protected areas. So, it’s not surprising that the Cairns Aquarium is the only aquarium in the world that is dedicated to the species and habitats of Tropical North Queensland.
The aquarium is home to an impressive 16,000 animals from 10 ecosystems and 71 habitats. This is the place to see plants and animals that live in the world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef. This reef is so large it consists of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands!
There’s a program of daily shows on all day long. If you want to delve deeper, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium and the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre where sick and injured marine turtles are rehabilitated. The virtual submarine simulator to explore the ocean’s depths is a great family experience suitable for kids over five years old.
The aquarium is also home to other unique fish from the region’s rivers, like gudgeon, catfish and freshwater stonefish. And you’ll also see crayfish and giant prawns that come from the creeks and streams. You’ll also get to see one of the world’s most bizarre fish, the Freshwater Sawfish, which is a massive fish with a long 2m snout.
The entry fees to the Cairns Aquarium are A$42 (adults), $28 (child) or $126 for a family of four.
Contributed by Christina from Travel 2 Next
Reef HQ in the North Queensland
Reef HQ in the North Queensland town of Townsville Australia is the teaching arm of the Australian Government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Being the world’s largest living Coral Reef Aquarium, Reef HQ has one huge aquarium that simulates life on the reef. Its enormous coral reef provides a living ecosystem for mid to small reef fish. They go about their life in an aquarium open to the sky with simulated wave action and huge viewing windows on the ground level.
Sharks, pelagic and large reef species inhabit a Predator tank, which joins the reef aquarium above the glass walkthrough tunnel.
Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef is one up-close and personal way of experiencing the reef, but in some ways, Reef HQ offers an even more personal experience.
Not only does it have the main tank big picture viewing windows, but a multitude of ever-changing vertical mini tanks where sea-horses, shrimps, clownfish and the like can be viewed face to face. These are fascinating and my favourite thing to do at Reef HQ.
Interactive learning displays of the electronic variety are fun for children as is the large supervised touch tank.
School holiday programs are always popular with children and usually involve making a reef inspired creation.
Public areas within the complex are large with space to roam freely and no set way to experience the displays. Knowledgeable Volunteers are plentiful and on hand to answer queries.
The large elevator and ramps make the facility both pram and wheelchair friendly.
At times scuba divers answer questions through a microphone from the main aquarium tank, and in school holidays real-life mermaids and mermen appear.
There are an on-site café and gift shop and the entrance fee for a family of two adults and up to three children is 70 AUD.
Contributed by Jan Robinson from Budget Travel Talk
The Best Aquariums in Africa
The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa
The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa is one of our favourite aquarium that we have visited in the world. The aquarium is good for half or even full day visit. Families and children can have lots of fun observing and interacting with animals. In the aquarium, there are areas with touch pools for the kids to discover and get hands-on with so many cool sea creatures! There is also a microscope area for the kids to learn and see things close up.
The penguin feeding time and predator exhibit are fun for the kids to be engaged and learn from one of the awesome staff at the aquarium. The kids loved the stories that the aquarium staff would share about the rescued animals and learning the animal’s names.
Our kids loved the hands-on experience at the Children’s Play Center at the aquarium. They were able to do an aquarium inspired craft, listen to stories and colour in the kid zone. The aquarium also has exhibits in the aquarium that help raise the awareness of water usage, recycling, things to do to help the environment and ways to help sea animals.
The location of the aquarium is in the heart of the V & A Waterfront, which makes it extremely convenient to visit while in Cape Town. The price of entry is very reasonable for a family of four would be under USD 40, which makes it a great way to spend the day with the kids.
While you are in Cape Town, another fun thing to do is hike up Table Mountain. You can then truly have a magnificent view of the oceans that you have learnt all about.
Contributed by Nicole from The Passport Kids
uShaka Marine World in Durban,
uShaka Marine World in Durban, South Africa is an epic aquarium that is so much more than a few fish behind glass! The Durban Aquarium is a huge theme park which comprises of eight different sections:
- Sea World,
- Wet ‘n Wild,
- Sea Animal Encounters Island,
- Village Walk,
- Kids World,
- Dangerous Creatures,
- Chimp & Zee
Africa’s biggest aquarium lets guests explore, interact, learn and be entertained with everything from turtle feeds and bird shows to penguin presentations and high rope adventure courses!
uShaka is fun for all the family and allows visitors to get involved as much or as little as they wish. Some of the real highlights of uShaka Marine World include the Snorkel Lagoon in which guests can swim with upwards of 1000 fish. Another one is a “floor walking”, where visitors can walk on the bottom of the aquarium. You can as well try the shark cage diving (for those with a taste for adventure!)! Even if you don’t want to do some of these crazy activities, it’s fascinating to watch others explore these underwater worlds.
The Durban Aquarium is located at the end of Durban’s Golden Mile which makes it an ideal addition to a day discovering the city. Sea World is open from 9 am until 5 pm Monday to Sunday while Wet ‘n Wild is only open Wednesday to Sunday.
Combo Ticket prices for Sea World and Wet’n Wild start from R214 for adults (13+) and R174 for children (3-12) and for Seniors (61+). Tickets for the additional areas are charged separately and start from around R60.
Contributed by Chrysoula from Travel Passionate
The Best Aquariums in the World – Pin it for later
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