At Atlantic Seafood Market, we love fish. We love catching them, eating them, talking about them and writing about them. We love learning about fish too. There are few better ways to do that than with a fun-filled day at one of our nation’s great aquariums. We’ve already covered our top five New England aquariums and wrote an article in 2014 concerning five of the best in the United States. Now we’re getting ready to round the top five into a nice solid ten. The aquariums we’ll be talking about today are the New York Aquarium, Texas State Aquarium, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Downtown Aquarium of Denver and the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.
New York Aquarium – 602 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224 (718)265-3474
http://www.nyaquarium.com – Nearest Airport: LaGuardia (Numerous subways and busses also available)
The New York Aquarium holds the proud distinction of being the oldest continually running aquarium in the country. Though it was originally located in Battery Park in Manhattan (built in 1896)1, it was relocated to Coney Island in 1957. It is overseen by the Wildlife Conservation Society which also has a hand in managing the nearby Bronx Zoo.
The New York Aquarium is quite large, taking up 14 acres and housing examples of nearly 400 different aquatic species. It features many different exhibits and attractions, one of which is the Sea Cliff exhibit. Here, visitors can visit with otters, penguins, harbor seals, California sea lions and walruses2. The seals and sea lions love to ham it up perform for guests. There are also plenty of helpful guides to be found around every corner to answer questions and dispense advice when needed.
Another point of interest at this aquarium is its Conservation Hall. It is at this area of the aquarium where you’ll be treated to beautiful views of coral reefs and some of the rare and in some case, endangered, species that live there. Clownfish, neon tetras, sea anemones and gliding rays are just a few of the fascinating sea creatures you’ll find in the Conservation Hall.
Some of the other most popular features of this area are a coral lab exhibit, moray eel observation tank, an exhibit giving information on the fish of the Amazon and a highly informative mythbusting piranha exhibit.
Texas State Aquarium – 2710 North Shoreline Bouelvard, Corpus Christi, TX 78402 (361)881-1200
http://www.texasstateaquarium.org – Nearest airport: Corpus Christi International Airport
Located in the city of Corpus Christi in southeastern Texas, the Texas State Aquarium first opened in July of 1990. Five years later, it would become a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, to which it still belongs as a member today.
Attempts to start this aquarium had their genesis as far back as the late 1970s. Efforts to get it started as a non-profit institution were continued throughout the 1980s, finally coming to fruition with the aquarium’s grand opening on July 6, 1990. Today, it holds its place as one of America’s top aquariums. It is brimming with fun and interactive exhibits, bustling events, and serves as a highly popular field trip destination for schoolchildren and homeschoolers alike.
Many of this aquarium’s exhibits run along a tropical motif. This can easily be observed through its Amazon, Dolphin Bay and Dolphin Bay Underwater Room exhibits. The underwater room consists of a glass tunnel built beneath a 400,000 gallon3 tank which serves as a home for some of the aquarium’s dolphins.
Two other sections of note are Eagle Pass and the Flower Garden. Opened in 2009, Eagle Pass places a strong emphasis on the importance of nature and animal conservation, particularly in regard to that of our national animal, the Bald eagle. A stunning massive display of carved rock serves as a mock habitat for the eagles who live there. The Flower Garden shows off a replicated version of a coral reef, much like the ones that are just 200 miles away in the Gulf of Mexico3.
Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium – 120 East Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425 (952)883-0202
http://www.visitsealife.com/minnesota – Nearest Airport – Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport
While “Minnesota” and “mall” aren’t likely to be among the first words to spring to mind when you think about aquariums, one of the best aquariums in our nation is highly relevant to both of those words. Beginning in 1996, the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium has been located entirely within the Mall of America in the Minnesota city of Bloomington.
More than 10,000 aquatic creatures call this aquarium their home. Sea turtles, sharks, rays, octopuses and even the prehistoric Alligator Gar are just a few among the many species of marine animals you’ll find inside of this super-aquarium. Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium also features the largest jellyfish collection in the world as well as the world’s largest underground shark exhibit. This exhibit is a glass tunnel through which visitors can safely view some of the ocean’s most imposing creatures.
This Minnesota aquarium also offers many different services and provides a myriad of experiences for guests. Behind-the-scenes tours, birthday parties, snorkeling lessons, scuba lessons, overnight parties for kids and even wedding receptions are all provided at this aquarium. All of these events are executed professionally and at the very peak of perfection.
Schools and group tours are always welcome, as long as arrangements are made in advance. Animal conservation and protection information are abundant, allowing anyone who truly wishes to make a difference to be empowered to do so. With over 10,000 creatures on display, many from endangered species4, some of the most popular exhibits at the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium are the Ocean Tunnel, Interactive Touch Pond, Seahorse Kingdom, Jellyfish Discovery Room, and the “Claws” crab exhibit.
Downtown Aquarium of Denver – 700 Water Street, Denver, CO 80211 (303)561-4450
http://www.aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumdenver – Nearest Airport – Denver International Airport
While Denver’s Downtown Aquarium opened in 1999, it struggled financially until it was acquired by the Landry Restaurant Group – hence the presence of the word “restaurant” in the aquarium website’s URL. Ever since the acquisition, the aquarium has been performing very well. It now consists of two buildings and over 1 million gallons of tank space. It also boasts several exhibits of both saltwater and freshwater marine life.
Many diverse environments are represented throughout the Downtown Aquarium of Denver. Exhibits featuring species native to North America as well as others showing off marine life from coral reefs, the deepest reaches of the ocean, rainforest environments, shipwreck exhibits and even exhibits showing off desert creatures all make up for the very diverse experience of this aquarium. The feeling of having traveled the world without leaving the campus is an experience enjoyed by people of all ages.
Many theatrical quality shows are staged at the Downtown Aquarium. One especially notable example is a show that goes by the simple name of The Mermaid Show. This family-friendly show features costumed mermaids swimming about the ocean with their real-life marine species counterparts. Set to choreographed music and synchronized swimming numbers, this show seeks to teach the importance of taking care of the environment5.
Special events such as birthday parties, banquets, corporate events, field trips and more are offered at the Downtown Aquarium of Denver. Also present is a gift shop where visitors can get souvenirs such as t-shirts, educational toys, stuffed animals and books. There’s also a full-service restaurant offering lunch and dinner, along with kids’ menus and drinks for adults. This Rocky Mountain-dwelling aquarium is truly an institution that has something to offer to everyone who enters.
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium – 2000 Sycamore Street, Cleveland, OH 44113 (216)862-8803
http://www.greaterclevelandaquarium.com Nearest Airport – Cleveland International Airport
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is one of the country’s newest aquariums, with its doors having opened as recently as the year 20127. Both exotic and locally-found marine creatures are displayed in the aquarium’s over 70,000 square feet of fun and discovery. Also of significance is the fact that the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is the only active aquarium in the state of Ohio.
The original Cleveland Aquarium opened in 1954 and experienced years of prosperity, but financial problems and building structure issues plagued the aquarium throughout the mid and late 1970s. In 1985, it was shut down and for almost 27 years, the state of Ohio was left without any aquariums to its name.
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is very much a family-based institution that offers educational fun for people of all ages. Like many aquariums, it is a popular field trip destination. It also youth groups and summer camps for children with keen interests for oceanography and marine biology.
At this aquarium, many exhibits are offered that detail marine life based on specific geographical locations. An Ohio lakes and rivers exhibit is provided along with others focusing on the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, the juncture of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Atlantic coastal regions, tropical coral reefs, international lakes and rivers and more.
Two especially popular attractions at this only Ohio aquarium are the Shark SeaTube and the Exploration Station. The Shark SeaTube is a 175 foot long underwater tunnel allowing visitors to observe sharks up close and personally7. Moray eels, stingrays and groupers also share the tank with the sharks and are in prime location for observation as well. The Exploration Station features many hands-on learning stations, including a shallow touch tank where guests can touch exotic creatures such as sea anemones and sea apples7.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of five more of the best aquariums in the United States. If you’re going to be traveling near any of these locations in the near future, we strongly suggest you pay them a visit. We guarantee you won’t regret it.
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New York Aquarium
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Greater Cleveland Aquarium