10Best Readers' Choice Winners: Best Aquarium

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    Winner: Georgia Aquarium

    It was a tight race for the title of 10Best Readers' Choice "Best Aquarium," but in the end, Atlanta's Georgia Aquarium made the biggest splash.  Its Ocean Voyager exhibit is a 284' long tank, 20-30 deep, with a viewing window like a movie screen in a dark room.  It's unforgettable! 

    Photo courtesy of Georgia Aquarium

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    Georgia Aquarium: A Big Winner

    With more than 10 million gallons of water, the Georgia Aquarium in the heart of downtown Atlanta is one of the world's largest.

    Photo courtesy of Georgia Aquarium

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    Georgia Aquarium: Cold Water Quest

    At Cold Water Quest in the Georgia Aquarium, visitors get up close with African penguins with the help of acrylic tunnels and pop-up windows.

    Photo courtesy of Georgia Aquarium

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    Georgia Aquarium: AT&T Dolphin Tales

    Visitors to the Georgia Aquarium can also learn more about playful dolphins during a musical and theatrical performance within the AT&T Dolphin Tales theater.

    Photo courtesy of Georgia Aquarium

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    Georgia Aquarium: Sleepovers

    Young guests can enjoy the aquatic world of the Georgia Aquarium after hours through the aquarium's sleepover programs, designed for families, youth groups and even adults.

    Photo courtesy of Georgia Aquarium

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    Runner Up: Texas State Aquarium

    Corpus Christi's most popular attraction, and the runner up for "Best Aquarium," the Texas State Aquarium features 330 species of aquatic animals, many native to the waters just offshore. Pictured here is Dolphin Bay.

    Photo courtesy of Texas State Aquarium

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    Texas State Aquarium: Conservation

    The Texas State Aquarium enjoys a location directly on the Gulf, where it operates a Second Chances Wildlife Rehabilitation Program to reintroduce ill or injured animals into their natural habitats.

    Photo courtesy of Texas State Aquarium

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    Texas State Aquarium: Flower Gardens

    The Texas State Aquarium's 40,000-gallon Flower Gardens exhibit recreates a coral reef environment, just like one found in the Gulf.

    Photo courtesy of Texas State Aquarium

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    Texas State Aquarium: Nearshore

    The Nearshore Experience at the Texas State Aquarium introduces guests to the wildlife of the sand dunces, mangroves and shallow saltwater habitats of the Gulf Shores.

    Photo courtesy of Texas State Aquarium

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    Texas State Aquarium: Tortuga Cay

    At Tortuga Cay, visitors can see a variety of species of rehabilitated, non-releasable sea turtles.

    Photo courtesy of Texas State Aquarium

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    Third Place: Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

    More than 350 species are represented among third place Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies 10,000 aquatic residents.

    Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

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    Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies: Family Fun in Gatlinburg

    Located in Gatlinburg in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies seeks to entertain and delight guests of all ages with its top quality marine life exhibits.

    Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

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    Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies: Shark Lagoon

    Shark Lagoon, a visitor favorite, features a 340-foot glidepath that brings guests face to face with sharks, sea turtles, sting rays and a variety of other marine life.

    Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

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    Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies: Stingray Bay

    More than 100 graceful rays are on display at Stingray Bay. The shallow end of the tank has a spot where guests can reach in and touch the gentle animals.

    Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

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    Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies: Discovery Center

    At the Discovery Center, visitors of all ages participate in a variety of educational and interactive exhibits, including touching live horseshoe crabs, one of the aquarium's stranger critters.

    Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

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    Fourth Place: Shedd Aquarium

    In fourth place, Chicago's John G. Shedd Aquarium, nicknamed "The World's Aquarium," features 32,000 animals representing 1,500 species from fresh- and saltwater environments around the globe.

    Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

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    Shedd Aquarium: An Award-Winning Facility

    Recognized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums for both its conservation efforts and innovative exhibit spaces, the Shedd Aquarium lets visitors get up close with beluga whales, sea otters, dolphins, penguins and a host of colorful fish.

    Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

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    Shedd Aquarium: Aquatic Show

    The Aquatic Show at the Shedd Aquarium allows a rotating group of the aquarium's most iconic residents to show off for visitors. Pictured here are the Pacific White-Sided dolphins.

    Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

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    Shedd Aquarium: Otters

    For more than two decades, the Shedd Aquarium has served as a leader in rescuing and rehabilitating stranded and orphaned sea otter pups.

    Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

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    Shedd Aquarium: Stingray Touch

    The seasonal Stingray Touch pool, Shedd's first outdoor exhibit, lets visitors reach into tropical waters to experience firsthand what a stingray feels like.

    Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

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    Fifth Place: Tennessee Aquarium

    In fifth place, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga features one of the largest collections of freshwater animals in the USA.

    Photo courtesy of John Bamber

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    Tennessee Aquarium: Two Buildings, One Experience

    The Tennessee Aquarium is divided into two buildings, the River Journey and the Ocean Journey. In the former guests trace the journey of a raindrop from its beginnings in an Appalachian Mountain cove forest all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

    Photo courtesy of Todd Stailey

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    Tennessee Aquarium: Penguins' Rock

    At Penguins' Rock in the Ocean Journey building, visitors observe Gentoo and macaroni penguins diving, swimming and rocketing out of the water.

    Photo courtesy of John Bamber

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    Tennessee Aquarium: River Otter Falls

    At River Otter Falls in the River Journey building, a host of charismatic North American river otters romp around their habitat to the delight of guests.

    Photo courtesy of Karen Estes

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    Tennessee Aquarium: Seahorses

    Seahorses, one of the world's more unusual categories of marine life, enjoy their own exhibit space at the Tennessee Aquarium.

    Photo courtesy of John Bamber

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    Sixth Place: Monterey Bay Aquarium

    A frequent Association of Zoos and Aquariums honoree, our sixth place finisher the Monterey Bay Aquarium features a 28-foot-tall kelp forest - one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world.

    Photo courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium, Photo by Randy Wilder

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    Monterey Bay Aquarium: Great Tide Pool

    With a location right on the shores of Monterey Bay, the aquarium's ocean view deck is a perfect place to spot sea otters and migrating humpback whales in the wild.

    Photo courtesy of Tyson V. Rininger

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    Monterey Bay Aquarium: Tentacles

    The Tentacles exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium showcases an amazing and diverse collection of octopuses, squid, cuttlefish and chambered nautilus.

    Photo courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium/Tyson V. Rininger

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    Monterey Bay Aquarium: Splash Zone

    Monterey Bay Aquarium's award-winning Splash Zone features 45 interactive exhibits perfect for families.

    Photo courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium/Tyson V. Rininger

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    Monterey Bay Aquarium: The Jellies Experience

    A visitor favorite, The Jellies Experience introduces guests in the colorful world of mysterious jellyfish.

    Photo courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium, Photo by Randy Wilder

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    Seventh Place: Vancouver Aquarium

    In June 2014, seventh place Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park unveiled the biggest expansion in its history, nearly doubling its gallery space.

    Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium

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    Vancouver Aquarium: Entrance

    The new and improved aquarium in Vancouver now houses some 50,000 animals. Return visitors will recognize the statue Chief of the Undersea World by Bill Reid welcoming them to the attraction.

    Photo courtesy of Kristi Wilson/Vancouver Aquarium

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    Vancouver Aquarium: AquaVan

    The Vancouver Aquarium's hands-on AquaVan program brings the aquarium experience to schools and communities throughout Western Canada.

    Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium

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    Vancouver Aquarium: Clownfish Cove

    The Clownfish Cove children's area was designed with little ones under eight years of age in mind. Its series of underwater tunnels allow kids to get up close with underwater life.

    Photo courtesy of Hamid Attie/Vancouver Aquarium

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    Vancouver Aquarium: Daisy the Rescue Porpoise

    Daisy lives with her friend Jack in the Spotlight on Porpoises exhibit. The pair of harbor porpoises were both found stranded on the beach and were rescued by the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

    Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium

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    Eighth Place: Mystic Aquarium

    At the eighth place Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, visitors have the chance to interact with the aquarium's star residents, beluga whales.

    Photo courtesy of Ryan Donnell

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    Mystic Aquarium: Entrance

    The Mystic Aquarium, part of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., seeks to create thought-provoking encounters between visitors and marine life.

    Photo courtesy of Mystic Aquarium

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    Mystic Aquarium: Fish on Parade

    The Mystic Aquarium welcomes approximately 700,000 guests each year to enjoy its 70-plus exhibits and nearly 5,000 marine specimens.

    Photo courtesy of Ryan Donnell

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    Mystic Aquarium: Main Gallery

    The Mystic Aquarium Main Exhibit Gallery features fluorescent corals, colorful reefs, sharks, eels and a host of fish.

    Photo courtesy of Ryan Donnell

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    Mystic Aquarium: African Penguins

    The Roger Tory Peterson Penguin Exhibit lets visitors observe the aquarium's 28 resident African penguins from above and below the water.

    Photo courtesy of Sea Research Foundation

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    Ninth Place: Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium at the Henry Doorly Zoo

    The Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium inside Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo takes visitors on a tour of the world's marine habitats, from the polar regions to the Amazon, and everywhere in between.

    Photo courtesy of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

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    Scott Aquarium: Tide Pool Touch Tank

    The facility underwent a major facelift in 2012 and now features a 500-gallon touch tank where guests can experience hands-on encounters with anemones, starfish and sea urchins.

    Photo courtesy of Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau

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    Scott Aquarium: Open Oceans

    The new Open Oceans exhibit features a 40-foot racetrack tank offering a mesmerizing view of schooling fish.

    Photo courtesy of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

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    Scott Aquarium: Shark Reef

    Sharks have long been a visitor favorite at the Scott Aquarium. The Shark Reef exhibit includes a 70-foot acrylic tunnel winding beneath a 17-foot-deep shark tank.

    Photo courtesy of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

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    Scott Aquarium: Family Fun at the Zoo

    The 2012 redesign of the Scott Aquarium made it even more family friendly with the inclusion of a kids coral reef area.

    Photo courtesy of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

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    Tenth Place: National Aquarium

    Our final winner, The National Aquarium on Baltimore's Inner Harbor, is home to some 17,000 fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals living in its award-winning habitats.

    Photo courtesy of National Aquarium

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    National Aquarium: Ideal Location

    The National Aquarium has become a recognizable part of the Baltimore Inner Harbor skyline. Its convenient location in the heart of all the Baltimore action makes it an even more popular destination for vacationers of all ages.

    Photo courtesy of National Aquarium

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    National Aquarium: Blacktip Reef

    One of the aquarium's newest offerings, Blacktip Reef, recreates the coral-filled reefs of the Indo-Pacific, complete with pop-out viewing windows where guests can come face-to-face with a school of blacktip reef sharks.

    Photo courtesy of National Aquarium

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    National Aquarium: Edutainment

    The National Aquarium offers a sizable lineup of outreach and educational programs, including field trip opportunities complete with scavenger hunts through the exhibits.

    Photo courtesy of National Aquarium

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    National Aquarium: Pig-Nosed Turtle

    Among the National Aquarium's many fascinating residents is the pig-nosed turtle, the only freshwater turtle with flippers like a sea turtle.   This facility, and all the other winning aquariums, make a great bucket list for families who like to travel.  

    Photo courtesy of National Aquarium


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