Get ready for exciting adventures that will take you into the deep end and beyond at some of the most amazing aquariums across America! From the beautiful to the brazen, aquariums display sea life as we rarely catch a glimpse. Try out these aquariums during your next vacation!
Where can you come face to face with hundreds of exotic fish? In the Smoky Mountains, of course. Immerse yourself in a kaleidoscope of colorful species from the coral reefs with equally colorful names: Foxface rabbitfish, moorish idol and clown triggerfish. Explore a lush tropical rainforest teaming with 2,000 different aquatic inhabitants including carnivorous and herbivorous piranha, a fish equipped with bifocals (the anablep) and the native Amazon arapaima, which makes an exhaling sound that can be heard 100 feet away.
For something totally ‘jaw-some,” feel the force of a shark bite at the Perfect Predators: SHARKS! exhibit. The younger members of your family are sure to enjoy a hands-on interactive experience with smooth gentle rays in the shallow lagoon of the Touch Ray Bay.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was voted #1 aquarium in the U.S. by TripAdvisor and is located just minutes from MountainLoft resort in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Believe it or not.
Not far from Club La Pension in the heart of New Orleans is an incredible place to celebrate the wonders of nature — the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Begin your adventure by entering an underwater tunnel in the Caribbean Reef surrounded by an exotic assortment of colorful sea creatures. Take a walking journey above the actual Mississippi River or see how you size up against 400,000 gallons of man-made saltwater and a ¼-scale replica of an underwater oil rig at the Gulf of Mexico exhibit.
Smaller, but equally grand, are Buck and Emma. These adorable sea otters spend most of their days frolicking in a custom-made 25,000-gallon swimming pool mansion while feasting on 9-12 pounds of shrimp, crab, squid, clams and mussels per day.
The aquarium is also home to a colony of Rockhopper penguins. This species is from South America and Africa, so don’t expect to find them waddling across ice covered snowscapes.
The South Carolina Aquarium is an awesome place to experience biodiversity and travel through the major regions of the Southeastern Appalachian Watershed. Encounter the rocky gorges, waterfalls, songbirds, trout and river otters of the Mountain Forest Aviary. Study the fish and other life forms that thrive in the Piedmont region. If you like the creepy, crawling and slithering, the Coastal Plains Gallery is home to popular predators like the striking diamondback rattlesnake, ferocious American alligator, longnose gar and the carnivorous Venus fly trap.
New in 2012 is the Madagascar Journey. Meet incredible species like ring-tailed lemurs and panther chameleons as you learn why this island is the most biodiverse place in the world. For the little ones, Mini-gascar is great place to climb, jump and give parents a chance to relax.
After a day at the aquarium, The Lodge Alley Inn provides resort-style amenities in a restored 18th century warehouse — talk about diverse!
Photo Credit: Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies CC-BY-2.0