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Are you planning a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee? Looking for things to do with your kids while you are there? Then look no further than the Tennessee Aquarium. It is hands down one of the best things to do in Chattanooga with kids. Keep reading to see why!
An Overview of the Tennessee Aquarium
The Tennessee Aquarium sits on the banks of the Tennessee River. This is the perfect location, considering that the aquarium showcases river animals.
It is housed in two buildings, which sit side by side. One of the buildings features ocean animals, while the other one highlights river animals. Each building has three floors of exhibits.
Additionally, all around the outside of the aquarium, you will see a meandering “creek” that appears as if it has broken up some of the sidewalks. This creates not only interesting sculptures, but also stepping stones. Your kids can play in this little creek, which is a lot of fun for them.
Each of the buildings has a main tank which extends throughout all three floors.
These tanks are built in such a way that you can view them from each and every level. They are very well done and allow you to view marine animals that live at different depths. It also gives you a lot of different viewing angles, which is great when it’s crowded at the aquarium.
You can find more specifics about the animals at the aquarium on their website.
The Ocean Journey
In the Ocean Journey building, you will find some animals that live on the land and in the air, in addition to those who call the ocean home. These include lemurs, penguins, tortoises, and butterflies.
Here, you will also find the aquarium’s largest touch pool. This pool houses a variety of small sharks and stingrays.
In the Secret Reef exhibit, you will see sand tiger sharks, yellowtail snappers, southern stingrays, and green sea turtles.
In the Island Life area, the aquarium showcases tortoises, chameleons, monitors, flashlight fish, and more.
The Boneless Beauties area has exhibits that feature starfish, jellyfish, octopus, coral, and giant crabs.
The River Journey
Over in the River Journey building, you will find freshwater marine animals and land animals that live near rivers.
Here, you will discover fish, such as the lake sturgeon, saffron shiner, rainbow trout, and alligator gar. Additionally, look for the giant freshwater puffer and red piranha.
You will also see fun and frightening animals like turtles, river otters, alligators, snakes, and poison dart frogs.
The main exhibit in this building is the River Giants. This is one of the most impressive tanks in the entire aquarium! It has some huge fish in it! And many of them I had never heard of before! This tank includes giant whiptail rays, giant gourami, redtail catfish, and barramundi.
Logistics of Your Visit
The Tennessee Aquarium is located at One Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga. It sits right on the banks of the Tennessee River. The aquarium is the heart of the downtown area.
The Tennessee Aquarium is open 363 days a year. They are only closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
They are open Sundays through Fridays from 10 am until 5 pm. On Saturdays, they are open from 9 am until 5 pm.
Admission to the aquarium gets you into both buildings. There is also an IMAX theatre at the aquarium. When buying admission tickets, you can choose between buying tickets to just the aquarium, or a combo ticket, which will also give you access to the IMAX theatre.
The aquarium only tickets are $39.95 for adults and $29.95 for kids ages 5-17. Kids ages 4 and under are free.
The combo admission tickets are $47.95 for adults and $37.95 for kids ages 5-17. Again, kids ages 4 and under are free.
Please note that it is best to buy your tickets online in advance of your visit. This is because the museum uses timed entry tickets. You will be admitted during your time block, but can stay and explore the aquarium for as long as you want.
The biggest issue when visiting the Tennessee Aquarium is parking. Because it is located in downtown, it does not have a dedicated parking lot. However, there are several paid parking lots and parking garages conveniently located near the aquarium.
I suggest driving to the aquarium and then looking for a place to park nearby. It shouldn’t be hard to find something.
Why you will love the Tennessee Aquarium
The Tennessee Aquarium is a perfect place to spend some time with your kids while in Chattanooga. We loved our visit. It is one of the best aquariums we have ever seen.
The aquarium is a great activity for families anytime of the year and during any weather because it is indoors and the buildings are air conditioned.
You can easily spend two hours or more touring the aquarium. And if you spend some time playing in the water around the aquarium, you can easily fill a half day here.
There is plenty of space to walk in most areas of the aquarium, so even if it is crowded, it doesn’t feel cramped. And the exhibits are designed beautifully so you can get some great views of the animals, even when there are lots of people.
The Tennessee Aquarium really is one of the best things to do with kids in Chattanooga.
The Tennessee Aquarium in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee is a wonderful way to spend time with your kids. It is spread out over two 3-story buildings featuring both freshwater and saltwater marine animals, as well as other animals that live in and near the water. You will love exploring this aquarium!
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