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National Aquarium

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore’s historic Inner Harbor is home to the very modern, and angular, National Aquarium building. Families can enjoy popular animal experiences like Dolphin Discovery and Shark Alley at the aquarium, and then venture outside to explore more kid-friendly attractions like the USS Tork submarine, Lightship Chesapeake and paddleboats.


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Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (New Orleans)

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (New Orleans)

A young visitor looks at a 400,000-gallon water tank filled with stingrays, sea turtles -- and 17-foot-long sharks! They’re all part of the Gulf of Mexico exhibit at the <a title="Audubon Aquarium of the Americas" href="http://www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/aquarium" target="_blank">Audubon Aquarium of the Americas</a> in New Orleans. The aquarium showcases aquatic life throughout North and South America. 960 1280

Stephen Saks/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

Texas State Aquarium

Texas State Aquarium

There he goes! This little guy is one of 2 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins -- Shadow and Kai -- at the <a title="Texas State Aquarium" href="http://www.texasstateaquarium.org" target="_blank">Texas State Aquarium</a> in Corpus Christi, TX. Visitors can see the dolphins above water … and below, courtesy of an underwater viewing room that features a 70-foot-long window.  960 1280

Philip Lange/ iStock/ Thinktsock  

Ripley’s Aquarium (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)

Ripley’s Aquarium (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)

In the heart of the Smoky Mountains you’ll find <a title="Ripley’s Aquarium" href="http://www.ripleyaquariums.com/gatlinburg" target="_blank">Ripley’s Aquarium</a>. The facility in Gatlinburg, TN, is home to 10,000 sea creatures, representing more than 350 individual species, such as giant stingrays, snappers and some very large sharks -- as long as 13 feet! 960 1280

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies  

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

It’s only fitting that the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher should be located near … Cape Fear! You and the kids will encounter plenty of fear-factor moments: Touch a live shark, discover North Carolina’s fiercest predator and come face-to-face with an alligator … if you dare. 960 1280

NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher  

Baltimore National Aquarium

Baltimore National Aquarium

You’ll find these yellow tang fish at the <a title="Baltimore National Aquarium" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/destinations/baltimore/photos/best-of-baltimore" target="_blank">Baltimore National Aquarium</a>. Since it opened in 1981, the aquarium has garnered an astonishing collection of sea life: 16,500 specimens representing 660 species.best-aquariums-in-us-north-baltimore-national-aquarium 960 1280

Richard Cummins/ Lonley Planet Images/ Getty Images  

Oregon Coast Aquarium

Oregon Coast Aquarium

Wow, are we underwater, Dad? It’ll feel like it as you and the kids journey through this underwater tunnel at the <a title="Oregon Coast Aquarium" href="http://www.aquarium.org" target="_blank">Oregon Coast Aquarium</a>. Cool views like this help explain why the facility in Newport, OR, has been ranked one of the top 10 aquariums in North America by <i>Coastal Living</i> magazine. 960 1280

Oregon Coast Aquarium  

Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, CA)

Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, CA)

This 5-acre site in Long Beach, CA, is home to the <a title="Aquarium of the Pacific" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/aquarium-of-the-pacific" target="_blank">Aquarium of the Pacific</a>. The little ones will enjoy plenty of interactive fun: Kids can pet sharks and stingrays, and feed nectar to parrots known as lorikeets. 960 1280

Pete Starman/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images  

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Did you know that corals are animals, not plants? Your kids will learn these and other facts at <a title="Monterey Bay Aquarium" href="http://www.montereybayaquarium.org" target="_blank">Monterey Bay Aquarium</a>’s Coral Reef Kingdom. See them ooh and aww at the colorful ocean homes where these tiny animals live in colonies. Also check out the aquarium's other attractions, including stingrays, jellyfish and sea otters. 960 1280

Doug Steakley/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

New England Aquarium (Boston)

New England Aquarium (Boston)

These brave kids stick their hands in the “touch tank,” as stingrays glide through the clear shallow water. Kids (and adults) can touch various species of sharks and rays at Boston's <a title="New England Aquarium" href="http://www.neaq.org/index.php" target="_blank">New England Aquarium</a>, including cownose rays, southern stingrays and coral catsharks. 960 1280

Brian D Cruickshank/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

The Florida Aquarium (Tampa)

The Florida Aquarium (Tampa)

Reach out and touch someone. Kids get a thrill as an underwater diver presses his hands against the glass tank at the <a title="Florida Aquarium" href="http://www.flaquarium.org" target="_blank">Florida Aquarium</a> in Tampa, FL. The large, 250-square-foot facility is home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals from around the world. 960 1280

Richard Cummins/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

John G. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago)

John G. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago)

You’re looking at one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world. The <a title="John G. Shedd Aquarium" href="http://www.sheddaquarium.org" target="_blank">John G. Shedd Aquarium</a> in Chicago houses more than 5,000,000 gallons of water in which 25,000 fish (and counting!) make their home. 960 1280

Charles Cook/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta)

Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta)

How’s this for big: The <a title="Georgia Aquarium" href="http://www.georgiaaquarium.org" target="_blank">Georgia Aquarium</a> in Atlanta contains between 100,000 and 120,000 fish and other sea creatures. One of the biggest reasons to visit is to see the aquarium’s whale sharks -- it’s the only institution outside of Asia to house this particular shark species. 960 1280

Barry Williams/ Getty Images  

Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga)

Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga)

Come face to face with sharks at the <a title="Tennessee Aquarium" href="http://www.tnaqua.org/Home.aspx" target="_blank">Tennessee Aquarium </a> in Chattanooga, TN. The sand tiger shark (pictured here) may look menacing but it’s not usually a threat to humans. Unless, of course, you engage in some spearfishing -- fortunately, not an option at this aquarium! 960 1280

Stephen Saks/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

Mystic Aquarium (Mystic, CT)

Mystic Aquarium (Mystic, CT)

Let’s shake on it! You’re looking at one of New England’s only beluga whales. Learn all about this amazing marine mammal -- which hails from the Arctic and is known for its eye-catching all-white color -- courtesy of the <a title="Mystic Aquarium" href="http://www.mysticaquarium.org" target="_blank">Mystic Aquarium</a>’s Encounter program in Mystic, CT. Don waterproof gear and wade waist-deep into the Arctic Coast exhibit with the whales and trainers. 960 1280

MyLoupe/ Universal Images Group/ Getty Images  

Waikiki Aquarium (Honolulu)

Waikiki Aquarium (Honolulu)

Just what makes a fish a fish? Find out at the Waikiki Aquarium, the third oldest aquarium in the US. At the aquarium’s very official Fish School, kids as young as 5 can learn all about the many critters of the sea and their amazing adaptations to their environment. Don’t worry, though, it’s not all learn and no play -- the class includes a scavenger hunt among the exhibits. 960 1280

Waikiki Aquarium  

Newport Aquarium (Newport, Kentucky)

Newport Aquarium (Newport, Kentucky)

Sharks, sharks and more sharks! Sand tiger, sandbar, whitetip, blacktip reef and zebra -- see these intriguing shark species glide above your head in Newport Aquarium’s underwater tunnel. Also explore the aquariums additional attractions, such as the Jellyfish Gallery, Frog Bog (home to 20 species of exotic frogs) and Gator Alley, where visitors can stare into the eyes of Tut, their Nile crocodile. 960 1280

Kentucky Tourism  

New York Aquarium, New York

New York Aquarium, New York

See these cute black-footed penguins at the New York Aquarium, located on Coney Island. As the oldest continually operating aquarium in the US, the aquarium holds no shortage of marine mammals and aquatic life, from sea lions, otters and walruses, to cownose rays and moray eels.    960 1280

Julie Larsen Maher/WCS  

Downtown Aquarium Denver

Downtown Aquarium Denver

Yes, even mermaids live at the aquarium … or at least put on a good show. At Downtown Aquarium Denver, see live mermaid performances in the Under the Sea exhibit. Also check out the aquarium’s exhibits spanning barrier reefs, rainforest, wharf and desert habitats. 960 1280

Downtown Aquarium, Denver  

Downtown Aquarium Houston

Downtown Aquarium Houston

Houston’s 6-acre Downtown Aquarium is home to a veritable who’s who of aquatic animals: Electric eels, nurse sharks and stingrays are among the 200 diverse species of underwater life found here. In between exploring exhibits like the Louisiana Swamp (yes, alligators live here) and the Rainforest, unwind at the aquarium’s Dive Lounge. 960 1280

Downtown Aquarium Houston