AMERICA’S BEST AQUARIUMS AND MARINE ATTRACTIONS
Take an aquatic journey to view the wonders of the world’s oceans.
Across America, there are ways to explore the wonders of the underwater world at aquariums and marine sites.
Come face-to-face with sharks, stingrays, turtles and vibrant tropical fish at Maui Ocean Center in Hawaii. Indoor-outdoor exhibits, behind-the-scenes tours and interactive presentations include one of the world’s largest displays of live Pacific corals, a 2,839,059-litre Open Ocean Exhibit featuring a walk-through tunnel, Marine Mammal Discovery Center, Turtle Lagoon and Living Reef exhibits. Mauioceancenter.com
At the Oregon Coast Aquarium on the dramatic Pacific coastline, a series of tunnels immerse visitors in the region’s marine life. Submerged and above-water viewing windows provide a glimpse into the world of seals and sea lions. Guests can schedule an encounter with a giant Pacific octopus and the new moon jelly program offers the opportunity to get hands-on with ancient sea jellies. Aquarium.org
California’s world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must-stop with enormous tanks filled with rays, sharks, jellyfish, tropical fish and creatures of every shape and size. Catch the daily sea otter, shark and penguin feedings. Montereybayaquarium.org
Idaho’s Aquarium of Boise houses 132,489 litres of saltwater and more than 250 species of animals and marine life. Highlights include the shark and ray pool, an Amazon exhibit, shark nursery, tide pools and a newly expanded reptile exhibit. Aquariumboise.net
Unique experiences at Denver’s Downtown Aquarium bring humans closer to the watery world of fish and marine mammals. The aquarium houses more than 500 species of fish and marine animals, along with an interactive stingray reef touch tank, an underwater mermaid show and a shark diving experience that’s as easy as snorkelling (for kids eight and over). Downtown Aquarium is part of the Denver CITYPASS program. Downtownaquarium.com
At the Texas State Aquarium, travel on an aquatic journey from the Gulf of Mexico shores out into the open sea to encounter thousands of animals representing more than 360 species. The aquarium has dive shows, animal feedings, a 1,514,165-litre shark exhibit, starfish and urchin touch tanks and hands-on programs with sharks and stingrays. Texasstateaquarium.org
With the Chesapeake Bay on either side, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, features three pavilions and more than 700 species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Meet a massive green sea turtle, search the rainforest canopy for elusive sloths and touch the slippery smooth belly of a moon jelly. Aqua.org
Using house-size tanks filled with skates, rays, sharks and fish, the North Carolina Aquarium tells the watery story of the Outer Banks environment. Ncaquariums.com
Visitors to Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, can enjoy a stingray experience, ray bay and a glass-bottom boat adventure. Ripleyaquariums.com/myrtlebeach
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island is primarily a rehabilitation and wildlife hospital open to the public. About 2,200 sea turtles nest along a 160-kilometre stretch of Georgia coastline. The centre’s stressed “patients” undergo treatment and most will be released back into the wild. Georgiaseaturtlecenter.org
The Bailey-matthews National Shell Museum on Florida’s Sanibel Island is the only museum in the nation solely devoted to shells and the mollusks that make them. Sanibel Island is one of the best seashellcollecting spots in the world and the museum exhibits shells from around the globe. Shellmuseum.org
PHOTO: Guests enjoy the Living Seashore exhibit at the National Aquarium.