For some reason, aquariums just seem like the places to be during the summer months. And as far as summer destinations go, there's no better way to plan a trip than to plan it around something exciting, such as one of the U.S.'s best aquariums. Of course, these exist in most states than not and while each one might have its own, some are grander, more exotic, and more interactive than others - and these are the ones that are worth planning a road trip for.
There's nothing like experiencing the feeling of being face to face with an exotic marine animal knowing that you're safely outside of the water while doing so. From sharks to octopus and any kind of fish a person can imagine, aquariums have it all. Many even have interactive touch tanks that allow visitors to get a feel - literally - for various marine life. Many aquariums offer wrap-around exhibits and live exhibits where they can educate groups on a specific marine animal in a controlled environment, and this is often an incredible and educational experience. Ready to take the dive?
First up is the Georgia Aquarium which also holds the reputation of being the largest aquarium in the world. With more than 550,000 square feet devoted to exhibits and educational centers, there's no shortage of things to see here and you might even need more than one day just to see it all - which is never a bad thing.
The aquarium is home to thousands of fish species and includes the rarely sighted blue whale, beluga whales, a manta ray, and bottle-nosed dolphins. Admission is pretty steep at $40 per adult but for everything you'll be able to see with only one day's admission, it's well worth it - there are also discounts available.
Holding the title of the best aquarium in the country, the Shedd Aquarium has plenty to offer those who are eager to learn about all kinds of marine life. The aquarium is a leader in conservation efforts, according to Tripping which has gained worldwide acclaim.
The Shedd was first constructed in 1930 and has only continued to grow its stellar following, with more than 32,000 marine animals calling it their home. The unique architecture of the aquarium has received high praise as well, making for an interesting visual as well as an educational one.
Audubon Aquarium Of America
The Audubon Aquarium of America might not have size on its side (that's not to say there isn't plenty to see here) but it was highly praised for its stewardship following Hurricane Katrina. USA Today also added the aquarium to its list of the top five aquariums in the country, which isn't too shabby.
Here, guests can see exotic exhibits such as the Caribbean reef exhibit, which plays host to a variety of tropical marine life. The exhibits are diverse and the experience is well worth it if you happen to be in the New Orleans area.
The Seattle Aquarium acts in a different manner than many aquariums and rather than having a full directory and exhibit signs, the Seattle Aquarium hires staff to direct guests instead. These same aquarium employees are the acting guides, taking visitors on tours while educating them about what they're seeing.
This way, guests are sure to walk away at the end of the day knowing and experiencing far more than they had when they started. The admission price is also fairly low, starting at $15, and it's hailed as one of the best aquariums on the West Coast.
Oregon Coast Aquarium
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is the best place for kids, and many of the exhibits are tailored specifically for their education. Not only will families have the chance to explore the inside of the aquarium, but they'll also find interactive walking trails and a butterfly garden just outside.
The grounds of the aquarium are also home to a wave crash exhibit which teaches guests about the environment that this marine life calls home, as well. One of the most unique parts of the aquarium is the wrap-around tank, which makes visitors feel as though they're completely immersed in an underwater world without actually being underwater. It's a true spectacle to see and isn't only mesmerizing for kids - adults love it, too. Admission to this aquarium is one of the lowest and starts at $12.