10 Fantastic Aquariums In The United States

Discover what some of the best aquariums in the United States have to offer.

Are you looking for an ocean experience on your next vacation? It doesn't matter if you will be close to the shore or not. There are many quality aquariums in the United States, many of which also function as outstanding marine research facilities and marine life rescue centers. Modern architecture has made it possible for many of these aquariums to offer stunning insider views of ocean life through the development of very realistic exhibits. Investigate one of these possibilities the next time you travel.

1. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in Los Angeles is located on the shore of the Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, California. A great thing about this aquarium is that it is free and readily accessible to the public, although a donation of five dollars per adult and one dollar per child is requested. This city-owned aquarium is divided into three segments: Rocky Shores, Beaches and Mudflats, and the Open Ocean. Special features include an aquatic nursery, "touchtanks" and whale skeletons. Visitors are also encouraged to continue their marine life tour down at the shore, where natural tide pools can be examined.

2. The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is located in New Orleans, Louisiana and features over 350 species in a variety of habitats. It also includes a scavenger hunt, a great view of sharks, and a seahorse-breeding program, which is designed to protect certain species of this unusual creature from extinction. The facility is large, and also features The Audubon Nature Institute, The Audubon Zoo, an IMAX theater and even an insectarium. The kids will love this one, and you should bring good walking shoes and plenty of money for various admission fees. Be sure to allow plenty of time for this one. Ticket prices are $16 for adults and $9.50 for kids for entrance to the aquarium only.

3. The Shedd Aquarium, located in the Museum Campus area of Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, is not what you would expect to find in a city that does not have a shoreline. Exhibits include Caribbean coral reefs, the Amazon, and the Pacific rocky coasts. Its 300 species of fish are found around the entire world, making this aquarium one of the more comprehensive aquatic exhibits. It also functions as a center for international aquatic conservation programs. Prices are $23 for adults and $16 for kids over the age of three. Chicago residents pay lower fees.

4. The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California is just that, featuring over 1000 species in 19 different habitats. 32 different exhibits allow visitors to experience the thrill of seeing animals from the Pacific Ocean's three regions: the Southern California/Baja Region, the Tropical Pacific and the Northern Pacific. This aquarium showcases spectacular architecture and features many outdoor exhibits in addition to the indoor ones. Located close to the ocean, it is a sight worth seeing. Tickets for adults are $18.95, while tickets for children are $10.95.

5. The Seattle Aquarium features sea life native to the region, and also includes mammals such as sea otters and Northern fur seals. Visitors can see a salmon hatchery, as well as explore exhibits that include sharks, seahorses, octopi, eels and other fascinating marine life. This aquarium has many conservation initiatives, including sea otter and sea turtle rehabilitation programs. Admission fees are a reasonable $12 for adults and $8 for children.

6. If you'd like to visit the oldest aquarium in the United States, try visiting the Waikiki Aquarium, which was established in 1904. Part of the University of Hawaii, this aquarium features 420 species of marine plant and animal life, including the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. Admission rates are $9 for adults and $4 for youth. One of the special features that this aquarium has is that it offers nighttime tours, so that curious visitors can discover how a coral reef changes from day to night, and other nighttime marine mysteries.

7. The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland features a 265,000-gallon ray pool, which allows visitors to see the graceful stingrays in action, as they swim through the water like birds in flight. Exhibits from all over the world are part of this aquarium experience, and one might even catch a glimpse of an Amazonian electric eel. Tickets are about $18 for adults and $11 for youth, and children three and under are admitted for free.

8. In Bloomington, Minnesota, underneath the Mall of America, you will find the world's largest underwater aquarium. A feature of this aquarium is a moving walkway that travels under the aquarium that is meant to replicate the experience of deep-sea diving. It has a renowned shark exhibit, and if you check in advance, you can see the sharks getting fed. Amazingly, adults are permitted to swim with the sharks on special dive excursions. Admission is a reasonable $10 for adults and $6 for kids.

9. The Oregon Coast Aquarium, located in Newport, is world-renowned, as it features over 500 different species, and includes an incredible display targeted at educating visitors on the journey and survival issues of the Chinook and Coho Salmon. The aquarium focuses on local species, including birds and marine mammals. Aquarium admission is $10.75 for adults and $6.50 for kids. Children three and under are free.

10. The Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration is located in Mystic, Connecticut, and features marine life such as Beluga whales, penguins, sharks and even blue lobsters. This aquarium is also a center for the study of deep-sea archeology, and can be an especially enriching educational experience. Admission is $16 for adults and $11 for children.

Enjoy your aquarium experience. Prices listed are subject to change, and seniors almost always pay reduced admission fees. Remember, when you go to an aquarium, not only are you educating yourself and your family, but you are also usually contributing to marine life rehabilitation centers and on-going marine research. You get to simultaneously contribute to a worthy cause and have an excellent vacation experience!

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