Tennessee Aquarium: A Must-Visit Destination

Located in the heart of Chattanooga, the Tennessee Aquarium is a top-rated destination for visitors to Tennessee seeking to delve into the state’s diverse aquatic world. With its captivating exhibits and educational programs, the aquarium offers a chance to get up close and personal with an array of marine creatures, from vibrant tropical fish to majestic sharks and sea turtles.

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If you’re looking for things to do with the family around Tennessee then you’ve’ come to the right place. From zip-linning the Tennessee smokies to visiting the Nashville Zoo, our guides have you covered.

What’s at the Tennessee Aquarium?

The Tennessee Aquarium offers visitors close encounters with marine creatures, including tropical fish, sharks, and sea turtles, through captivating exhibits and educational programs. The aquarium features two main exhibits: the River Journey showcasing freshwater habitats, and the Ocean Journey, which immerses guests in marine life from around the world. 

With its commitment to conservation and captivating IMAX theater, the Tennessee Aquarium promises an enriching adventure for all ages.

About The Tennessee Aquarium

Visitors have the opportunity to explore two captivating exhibits: the River Journey and the Ocean Journey. 

The River Journey takes you on a tour of the state’s freshwater habitats, including the Tennessee River and its tributaries, showcasing a variety of fish, turtles, and other aquatic creatures native to these waterways. 

On the other hand, the Ocean Journey offers an immersive exploration of the world’s oceans, from the Pacific coral reefs to the depths of the Atlantic, where you can encounter everything from giant octopuses to playful penguins.

If your family likes the water, consider checking out some of Nashville’s indoor water parks.

An Engaging and Educational Experience

Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Tennessee or a seasoned traveler, the Tennessee Aquarium promises an enriching adventure. With engaging exhibits, knowledgeable staff, and a strong commitment to conservation, this aquarium ensures an unforgettable and educational experience for all its guests. Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in the wonders of the deep sea!

Tennessee Aquarium stands as a world-class attraction, drawing visitors from around the globe. Showcasing a vast collection of aquatic animals, the aquarium features immersive exhibits that celebrate the beauty and diversity of the underwater world.

Mission: Inspiring Appreciation and Protection

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The mission of Tennessee Aquarium is to inspire visitors to develop a profound appreciation for the natural world and its preservation. Through educational programs and exhibits focused on conservation and sustainability, the aquarium aims to raise awareness about the significance of protecting aquatic ecosystems and the creatures that inhabit them.

A Diverse Collection of Aquatic Animals

At the Tennessee Aquarium, more than 12,000 animals from various corners of the world find their home. From awe-inspiring sharks and graceful stingrays to gentle sea turtles and captivating tropical fish, the aquarium boasts a rich diversity of aquatic life. 

Additionally, you can observe scheduled feedings where the dedicated animal care team nourishes some of the fascinating creatures, making the experience even more captivating.

Immersive Exhibits that Transport You

Tennessee Aquarium boasts several immersive exhibits that transport visitors to different aquatic environments. 

Among the favorites is the Secret Reef exhibit, featuring a massive 575,000-gallon tank teeming with colorful fish, sharks, and stingrays. The River Journey exhibit offers a window into the aquatic life of the Tennessee River and its surroundings, while the Ocean Journey exhibit showcases the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Experience the River Journey and Ocean Journey

At the Tennessee Aquarium, visitors can embark on two captivating journeys: the River Journey and the Ocean Journey. 

The River Journey showcases exhibits on freshwater habitats like the Appalachian Cove Forest, River Giants, and the Delta Country. The Ocean Journey, on the other hand, immerses guests in marine life from around the world, featuring the Secret Reef, Stingray Bay, and the Butterfly Garden. Exploring both sections typically takes about 2-3 hours.

Interact with Fascinating Stingrays

Stingray Bay stands as one of the aquarium’s most popular exhibits, offering visitors the opportunity to interact with stingrays in a touch tank. Knowledgeable staff are on hand to answer questions and ensure safe interactions with these captivating creatures.

Timed Entry System for a Pleasant Experience

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To avoid overcrowding and provide an enjoyable experience, the Tennessee Aquarium operates on a timed entry system. Visitors choose a specific entry window when purchasing tickets. It’s advisable to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled entry time.

Combo Tickets for Added Adventure

Combo tickets are available for those seeking more than just the aquarium experience. These tickets include admission to other attractions in the Opry Mills Mall, such as Madame Tussauds and the General Jackson Showboat.

Reservations Encouraged

While reservations are not mandatory, they are highly recommended, especially during peak times like weekends and holidays. Reservations can be made online or through the aquarium’s customer service line.

In conclusion, the Tennessee Aquarium promises a unique and educational adventure for visitors of all ages. With its array of exhibits and experiences, it offers excellent value for those eager to learn about marine and freshwater habitats. 

Whether you’re a local or a visitor from afar, the Tennessee Aquarium is a must-see attraction in the Chattanooga, TN area.

Enthralling IMAX Experience

Beyond animal exhibits, Tennessee Aquarium houses an IMAX theater that screens educational films about the natural world. 

With its six-story screen and state-of-the-art sound system, the theater provides a truly immersive movie experience. Topics covered range from the mesmerizing deep sea to the mysteries of outer space.

Plan Your Visit to Tennessee Aquarium

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When preparing for your trip to the Tennessee Aquarium, careful planning ensures an optimal and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential details to consider:


To avoid lines and secure availability, purchase your tickets online in advance. General admission prices are $29.99 for adults and $19.99 for children aged 3-12, while children 2 and under enter for free. Special discounts are available for seniors, military personnel, and students with valid ID.

Hours of Operation

The Tennessee Aquarium welcomes visitors daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Please note that holiday hours may vary, so it’s best to check the website for any schedule changes.

Explore Membership Options

The Tennessee Aquarium offers a range of membership packages for individuals, couples, and families, granting unlimited access to the aquarium and its captivating exhibits. Membership benefits include discounted tickets for IMAX films and exclusive access to members-only events. Members also receive discounts on purchases made at the aquarium gift shop and educational programs.

Various Membership Types

  • Family Membership: Unlimited aquarium admission for two specified adults and up to five kids (ages 5-17) per visit.
  • Dual Deluxe Membership: Access to both aquarium buildings and unlimited 45-minute IMAX films for two specified adults and up to five kids (ages 5-17) per visit.
  • Family & Guest Membership: Aquarium admission for one guest during each visit.
  • Aquarist Membership: Additional perks like behind-the-scenes tours and access to the aquarium’s animal care staff.

Purchase Tickets

Tickets to the Tennessee Aquarium can be conveniently purchased online or at the venue. Choose from various ticket options, including admission to both aquarium buildings, admission plus an IMAX film, and combo tickets with both aquarium admission and an IMAX film. Separate tickets for IMAX films are also available.

Conservation and Education: A Commitment to the Planet

At the Tennessee Aquarium, a steadfast commitment to conservation and education takes center stage, aiming to protect aquatic life and their habitats while raising public awareness about the importance of these endeavors.

Dedicated Conservation Efforts

Through their research and restoration programs, the aquarium actively works to safeguard and restore aquatic ecosystems in Tennessee and beyond.

The team’s involvement in research, habitat protection, breeding programs, and global education initiatives makes a significant impact.

Enriching Classes and Experiences

The Tennessee Aquarium offers an array of classes and experiences suitable for all ages, catering to school groups, families, and adults. Tailored homeschool programs complement science curriculums, ensuring engaging and educational experiences for students of all levels.

Supporting the Mission

As the Tennessee Aquarium relies on donations to further their conservation and education efforts, visitors have the opportunity to contribute and be part of their valuable mission. Becoming a member also supports ongoing conservation initiatives and educational programs.

Explore Aquatic-Themed Merchandise from Home at the Online Gift Shop

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The Tennessee Aquarium provides a delightful online gift shop, enabling visitors to purchase aquatic-themed merchandise from the comfort of their own homes. 

The virtual store boasts a diverse collection, including apparel, plush stuffed animals, toys, home décor, and more. Visitors can discover the latest trends and unique items not available in the physical gift shop.

Easy Navigation and Secure Checkout

The user-friendly online gift shop allows for effortless browsing and a secure checkout process. Merchandise is conveniently categorized, with sections for apparel, home décor, toys, and more. 

A search function is also available to swiftly find specific items. To stay in the loop on the latest merchandise and promotions, visitors can sign up for the aquarium’s email list, receiving updates on new products, exclusive discounts, and upcoming events.

Enhancing User Experience with Cookies

The aquarium’s website employs cookies to improve the user experience. These small text files stored on a user’s device help the website remember preferences and browsing history.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some common inquiries about the Tennessee Aquarium:

Can I bring outside food or drinks?

Unfortunately, outside food and drinks are not permitted inside the aquarium. However, several dining options are available within.

Are strollers and wheelchairs available for rent?

Yes, you can rent strollers and wheelchairs at the aquarium.

Can I bring my pet?

With the exception of service animals, pets are not allowed inside the aquarium.

Are there any discounts available?

Yes, discounts are offered for seniors, military personnel, and students with ID. Additionally, various membership options cater to frequent visitors.