1.) John G. Shedd Aquarium
Highlights: The aquarium opened in 1929, making it one of the oldest and one of the most elaborate in the country. The building features a Beaux Arts design with exhibits including Waters of the World, the Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising and Oceanarium. The Shedd also puts on daily aquatic shows with dolphins and beluga whales. Guests can also see the bright colors of an underwater garden at the Wild Reef aquarium.
2.) Newport Aquarium
Highlights: One million gallons of water keeps thousands of animals alive in the Newport Aquarium. Interactive exhibits include a touch tank where visitors can feel the skin of a shark. Much more fearsome-looking sharks reside in the Surrounded by Sharks tank, which holds 10-foot long Sand Tiger Sharks. The tank allows viewers to see the sharks from all angles inside an 850-foot acrylic underwater tunnel.
3.) Georgia Aquarium
Highlights: The world’s largest aquarium covers more than half a million square feet. Tens of thousands of animals can be watched inside 60 habitats. Guests can feel small beside the 6.3-millon-gallon tank that houses four whale sharks, a manta ray and huge schools of fish.
4.) Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay, Calif.
Highlights: Look outside and see the top of the Pacific Ocean, but look inside and see what lives in the ocean at the Monteray Bay Aquarium. Artificial waves crash over a walk-through tunnel to give life to tide pool creatures. Other entertainment includes playing sea otters and creepy wolf-eels popping in and out of view in a kelp forest. From the outdoor deck, viewers can occasionally see wild whales swimming in the ocean.
5.) National Aquarium
Highlights: The Aquarium houses more than 16,000 specimens and 660 animal species, including dolphins and a Giant Pacific octopus. Exhibits include the Australian Animals, Jellies Invasion, the New Dolphin Show and the new 4-D Theater. A variety of wildlife reside in multispecies tanks in the spacious aquarium.
More water-themed attractions:
Aquatic attractions make a splash
WEB EXCLUSIVE! Five U.S. Aquariums