This a freshwater aquarium which is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. I would suggest that you do get there when it opens to avoid waiting in line to enter and the hordes of people that surround the tanks later in the day.
The Tennessee Aquarium is the world's largest freshwater Aquarium and one of the best Aquarium's in the country. It has two main buildings, the peaks are essentially the skyline of downtown Chattanooga--no trouble finding the buildings. One building, the original, is River Journey that follows a drop of water in the Smokey Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. The other building, Ocean Journey, showcases salt water marine like and the famous Penguins.
The campus is a city park, great for taking pictures. And the Aquarium is on the heart of the Riverfront. A great place to get pictures of the famous 4 bridges. And an excellent starting point for your trip to Chattanooga. From here, within walking distance is the tasty/unique North Shore, the Hunter Museum of American Art, downtown eateries, the Creative Discovery Museum and the IMAX Theater.
Tips for the Aquarium to avoid the crowds:
If going during the week, plan to arrive after 2. School groups flood the Aquarium daily, but buses typically head out in time for dismissal around 2 pm. This leaves the Aquarium close to empty for the remainder of the evening. Note that while the last ticket is sold at 6, and the buildings can still be explored until 8 or so, the Penguins in the Ocean Journey building have "lights out" at 6, I think. We were a bit surprised to find that when we entered Ocean Journey at 7 the Penguins were sleeping. So keep that in mind while planning your day.
If going on a weekend: the earlier the better. They open at 10 am
the tennessee aquarium is actually a combination aquarium and zoo. they offer very interesting ecosystem displays of a southern forest and swamp. the aquarium has a gulf reef exhibit and a penguin enclosure. for those interested in southern ecology or are traveling with children the tennessee aquarium should not be missed.
This is the "new anchor for riverside of Chattanooga. The aquarium is a new venture for the city, but after that came the Atlanta competitor that is bigger and better. The tour is around 2 hours, and covers two sections separately. They are the the river journey and the ocean journey. They hold 12,000 species of habitat. It holds 1 million gallons of water. The one side features ocean species and the other river species. In addition, a boat called River Explorer can be part of the tour for $49.95 all in including IMAX
Prices are $19.95 for the aquarium, or $24.95 for two day pass. A combined IMAX show is $24.95, or single IMAX is $8.95.
This large complex is about everything aquatic. The four-story high fish tank, the huge IMAX movie screen, the full-floor bird sanctuary and the otters are all there and also a giftshop and cafeteria.
You enter through an archway into the main atrium then begin journey up the escalator to the mid floor of the fish tank. (it is a huge escalator, two and half stories high). Walk through a short tunnel ramp up to the top floor of the tank. Then as you look at the fish in each section of the tank, you slowly walk around the building, winding down the gentle rampway until you are at the messanine level. A final flight of stairs (or elevator for the handicapped) takes you to the ground level and the "big bird cage" and the giftshop and cafeteria.
If you had been counting, then you would have seen over thirty varieties of fish, ten varieties of invertabrate ocean dwellers, ten type of frogs, innumerable creepy crawlies (salamanders, centipedes, crabs,etc.) and twenty species of birds. Other than man, the only mammal in the exhibits is the otter.
This tour takes two to three hours (depending on your interest in biology); add in another 40 minutes in the gift shop and 20 minutes for a Coke in the cafeteria and you have a full morning. Now you can go see the IMAX movie and catch some of the architecture of the building and surrounding landscape. We got there about 10am and left in time for early dinner at 3pm.
We had AAA package tickets for $20 in 2003. I imagine that the price is still quite high but the adventure is worth it.
There were very few places to sit and rest inside the aquarium except on the ground floor entrance and the cafeteria and the IMAX. They do have plenty of restroom facilities and helpful staff if you need assistance.
Along the river down in the city of Chattanooga lies the Tennessee Aquarium. This is a newer facility and one of the nicer aquariums you'll find, there are individual exhibits, but the center of the buidling houses some large, multi floor aquariums for the larger species. Prices are steep ($18 for adults), but I found it to be worth it. Many of the exhibits are based on a habitat, and then multiple species that would be in that habitat are in the exhibit. More than just fish, you'll also see bird, reptiles, and some other animals. Allow at least a couple of hours to see everything.
This is a very nice aquarium located in Chatanooga. We stopped here on our way to Atlanta. My son was especially fascinated with the huge jellyfish. Features both freshwater and saltwater fish,sharks,jellyfish,octopus,etc. This aquarium is one of the largest. Takes about 2-3 hours. We enjoyed it as well as the kids. If you are in the area check it out.
Chattanooga's wildly successful and popular Tennessee Aquarium is the world's largest freshwater aquarium. The ultra-modern facility reproduces and displays the natural habitats of the great rivers of the world.
As if that weren't enough, in April, 2005, the aquarium opened a new expansion which added 650,000 gallons of saltwater exhibits, with ten-foot sharks, fierce barracuda and graceful sting-rays, gliding through an undersea cavern. Other galleries showcase butterflies, cuttlefish, squid, crabs and jellyfish. A lush tropical beach, with 100 feet of "shoreline," gives visitors the opportunity to touch bamboo sharks and sting rays.
If you only see one attraction in Chattanooga, you couldn't make a better choice than the Tennessee Aquarium.
Open daily 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Building closes at 7:30 p.m.
Extended summer hours
Kids 3-12 $9.50
Boasting the worlds largest freshwater Aquarium, the Chattanooga Aquarium is a great place to start out a trip to Chattanooga. Located downtown right on the Tennessee River, the aquarium exhibits both local and saltwater marine life.
There are a couple of large tanks in here as well as a great swamp exhibit. On the bottom level is an excellent exhibit on Sea Horses that should not be missed! Check out the Sea Dragons while you are there!
The Aquarium recently opened it's new Salt Water Aquarium (on the right in the picture) so there is even more to see.
The TN Aquarium is the #1 tourist attraction in Chattanooga, and rightfully so. Not only is it the largest freshwater aquarium in the world, it has been voted the best aquarium in the South year after year by Southern Living Magazine as well as other publications. The theme of the aquarium is to trace the movement of water from its beginning as a raindrop in the cove forest of the mountains in East TN all the way through streams and rivers, most importantly the TN River, to its end in the Gulf of Mexico. Although many exhibits show flora and fauna of TN and the Southeastern US, there are displays here from every corner of the world. The current salt water tank is quite small and is not at the end of the tour, which is part of the reason for the new building being built that is going to be completely salt water, an entire 500,000 gallons of salt water. This will also make lots of room in the original building for more freshwater exhibits. The top of the new building is going to contain a butterfly gallery, much like the glass-roofed top of the old building that has many birds. If you go early in the morning when the aquarium first opens, you can watch the birds get fed up in the cove and see many species very close.
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