search

Best Aquarium (2021)

Advertisement

Aquariums put us face to fin with aquatic life from the world's oceans, lakes and waterways in a fun and educational setting. The best aquariums also play a vital role in animal conservation by taking part in rescue efforts and advocating for the environmental health of our oceans. 

  • Wonders of Wildlife

    Wonders of Wildlife
    Springfield, Mo.

    Founded by Johnny Morris, CEO of Bass Pro Shops, Springfield's Wonders of Wildlife celebrates hunting, fishing and stewardship of the land and water through 1.5 miles of immersive galleries featuring 4D dioramas and a new 1.5-million-gallon aquarium. Some 35,000 animals representing over 800 species are on display, including zebra sharks, sea turtles and freshwater sport fish. Unique to the aquarium is its collection of historic boats used by fishing legends and celebrities, like Jimmy Buffet, Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey.
    Photo courtesy of Wonders of Wildlife

  • Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

    Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
    Gatlinburg, TN

    More than 350 species are represented among Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies 10,000 aquatic residents. Shark Lagoon, with its moving walkways through underwater tunnels, is the aquarium's biggest and most popular attraction, but kids love the interactive Penguin Playhouse, where they can come nose-to-beak with endangered African penguins both above and below the water.
    Photo courtesy of Mary Phillips (Ripley Entertainment)

  • The Florida Aquarium

    The Florida Aquarium
    Tampa

    One of the top aquariums in the South, the Florida Aquarium displays some 8,000 plants and animals from a range of fresh and saltwater environments, including alligators, sharks, seahorses, river otters and free-flying birds. The Florida Wetlands Trail highlights regional life in a recreated mangrove forest, while the Journey to Madagascar takes visitors across the globe to observe a host of interesting animals – ring-tailed lemurs, hissing cockroaches and colorful chameleons. At Stingray Beach, visitors are invited to touch stingrays and sharks.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / cbpix

  • North Carolina Aquariums

    North Carolina Aquariums
    Multiple Locations

    This foursome of aquariums – Roanoke Island, Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Fisher, and Jennette's Pier – each offer a unique experience. Walk through a sunken ship or explore wetland wildlife on Roanoke Island, learn about loggerhead turtles at Pine Knoll Shores, come nose to nose with an albino alligator at Fort Fisher, and get interactive at Jennette's Pier.
    Photo courtesy of AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, Stephanie Bruce

  • Texas State Aquarium

    Texas State Aquarium
    Corpus Christi, Texas

    The Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, the largest Aquarium in Texas, offers a journey through land and sea including encounters with the fascinating wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Notable exhibits include a spacious jungle featuring flamingos, flying birds, and sloths, and a 400,000-gallon deep sea habitat, where visitors can get up close and personal with sharks prowling among a sunken shipwreck. Additional exhibits give guests a captivating look at sea turtles, dolphins, otters, and other amazing animals, while stingray touch pools and a 4D theater provide even more interactive educational experiences.
    Photo courtesy of Texas State Aquarium

  • Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

    Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
    New Orleans

    The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans take guests below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and deep into the Amazon rain forest. The 400,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit features sharks, rays and tarpons in a stunning setting; other guest favorites include sea otters, penguins, sea turtles and even owls.
    Photo courtesy of Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

  • Newport Aquarium

    Newport Aquarium
    Newport, Ky.

    Encompassing a million gallons of water and thousands of animals from around the world, the Newport Aquarium operates the first shark ray breeding program in the world. The Amazon Tunnel allows visitors to walk along the floor of the Amazon River during its flooded season, while the Dangerous & Deadly exhibit showcases some of the world’s most lethal aquatic creatures. Eight species of crocodiles from four different continents can be seen at Gator Alley – one of the most diverse crocodilian collections in the country.
    Photo courtesy of Newport Aquarium

  • Tennessee Aquarium

    Tennessee Aquarium
    Chattanooga, Tenn.

    Visitors to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga trace the journey of water from the mountains through the Appalachian Cove Forest, into the Ohio River where it joins with the Mississippi that flows into the Gulf of Mexico. A broad array of wildlife highlights ecosystems along the way, including alligators, otters, snapping turtles, catfish and sunfish. Featured habitats – delta swamp, tropical rain forest, spiny forest and reefs – provide homes for frogs, penguins, sharks, jellyfish, cuttlefish and lemurs, while professional keepers and divers happily share their expertise with visiting guests.
    Photo courtesy of Tennessee Aquarium

  • Adventure Aquarium

    Adventure Aquarium
    Camden, N.J.

    Many surprises await visitors at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden. Among the aquarium's 15,000 aquatic critters in two million gallons of water are hippos, the world’s smallest species of penguin and the world’s largest species of hammerhead shark. Guests can reach out and touch sharks, sting rays, sea stars and horseshoe crabs. Live diver presentations and keeper interactions with sea turtles and hippos enhance the visitor experience.
    Photo courtesy of Jeff Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

  • Mystic Aquarium

    Mystic Aquarium
    Mystic, Conn.

    The most popular residents at the Mystic Aquarium are New England's only beluga whales; guests can observe these gentle giants from above and below the surface. Animal interaction is the name of the game at Discovery Lab, while Shark Lagoon features one of the ocean's most misunderstood animals. African penguins, bearded dragons, American alligators, seals, sea lions and more than 30 species of frogs also call the aquarium home.
    Photo courtesy of Mystic Aquarium

The top 10 winners in the category Best Aquarium are as follows: 

  1. Wonders of Wildlife - Springfield, Mo.
  2. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies - Gatlinburg, TN
  3. The Florida Aquarium - Tampa
  4. North Carolina Aquariums - Multiple Locations
  5. Texas State Aquarium - Corpus Christi, Texas
  6. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas - New Orleans
  7. Newport Aquarium - Newport, Ky.
  8. Tennessee Aquarium - Chattanooga, Tenn.
  9. Adventure Aquarium - Camden, N.J.
  10. Mystic Aquarium - Mystic, Conn.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning science aquariums!

License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo

 

Advertisement

AlertThe Experts

Debra Erickson

Debra Erickson

Debra Erickson

Rob Taylor

Rob Taylor

Rob Taylor

Kyle McCarthy

Kyle McCarthy

Kyle McCarthy

Nicky Omohundro

Nicky Omohundro

Nicky Omohundro

Allison Taylor

Allison Taylor

Allison Taylor

Alan Sironen

Alan Sironen

Alan Sironen
×

×