You may associate aquariums with more coastal areas, but the Midwest is home to many excellent spots to view sea life. Here are our top picks of places to make a splash.
Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, IL)
Chicago‘s Shedd Aquarium first opened its doors in 1930. It remains one of the most popular attractions in the Windy City. There are a variety of exhibits, each dedicated to a different ecosystem and its creatures. These include Polar Play Zone, Caribbean Reef, and At Home on the Great Lakes. As a cool bonus, families, and groups can even spend an overnight in the aquarium as part of their “Asleep with the Fishes” program!
Newport Aquarium (Newport, KY)
While it’s technically located in Kentucky, the Newport Aquarium is a major attraction for residents of the greater Cincinnati area. Here, you’ll find the fantastic Shark Bridge. It is a suspended rope bridge that overlooks more than 24 sharks. It’s the first of its kind in the world! There’s also the brand new Stingray Hideaway. It includes an underwater tunnel and the opportunity to touch three types of rays.
The Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium (Omaha, NE)
Located inside Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, this aquarium–the largest of its kind in a zoo–gives visitors the best of both worlds. Whether you’re feeling adventurous enough for the 70-foot shark tunnel or want to admire the tropical creatures of coral reefs, you’re sure to have a blast.
SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium (Minneapolis, MN)
Head to the Mall of America to experience this one-of-a-kind aquarium. It offers experiences like snorkeling, overnight stays, stingray-feeding, and other activities that allow you to get up close and personal with your favorite sea creatures. Sturgeon Lake, the Pacific Northwest Rockpool, the Seahorse Kingdom, and Coral Caves are among the exciting areas you can explore.
Belle Isle Aquarium (Detroit, MI)
The Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest aquarium in the entire country. It was opened in 1904 and operated until 2005 when Detroit’s economic struggles forced it to shut down. Fortunately, with the support of the community, the aquarium was reopened in 2012. It has seen an amazing surge in attendance ever since. In addition to the incredible historic architecture, you’ll also find catfish, seahorses, koi, pufferfish, and many other sea creatures.