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Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is a swimmingly great road trip from Huntsville

Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is a swimmingly great road trip from Huntsville

  • This roadtrip from Huntsville is under 2 hours away!
  • There's lots to do with kids in Chattanooga, TN
sharks swimming at the Tennessee Aquarium
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Chattanooga is a favorite roadtrip of my family’s – we can easily zip over for a day or spend the whole weekend there. No matter how old they are, one place my boys always want to visit is the gorgeous Tennessee Aquarium. It’s totally worth the drive and admission price, and kids of all ages will find something they love there.

A Day at the Tennessee Aquarium

Getting There & Outdoor Fun

We left Huntsville early on a weekday so we could arrive when the Aquarium opened. It’s easy to find, and there is lots of parking in the vicinity – we easily found a space next to the Aquarium and paid $9 using the kiosk. More parking can be found for less further away if you don’t mind walking, but the day we went was rainy so we wanted to stay close. If you are staying in downtown Chattanooga, there’s a free shuttle that runs to the Aquarium so parking isn’t an issue.

There are also several terrific restaurants within a block or two as well as a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop. We arrived right as the Aquarium opened and then ate lunch at Puckett’s right next door.

During the warmer months of the year, you can enjoy listening to the street performers and watching the boats on the river outside the Aquarium. There are lots of water features that kids can play in if you want to bring a change of clothes and a towel.

Clown fish at the Tennessee Aquarium
Can you find Nemo?

River or Ocean? Exploring the Aquarium

We got our tickets and were faced with the choice of which building to enter first—the Ocean Journey or River Journey. The River Journey offers adorable river otters, turtles, alligators, giant catfish and thousands of freshwater wonders. It’s so interesting to see what lives right here in our region, and the Tennessee Aquarium is doing big things in the way of local conservation efforts.

The Ocean Journey offers penguins, sharks, butterflies, and giant sea turtles, and there is a touch-and-feel tank where people can gently pet stingrays. My son’s favorite exhibit is the Boneless Beauties – we can spend hours watching the jellyfish and octopus, and it’s peaceful and dark there.

The newly-renovated Butterfly Habitat was beautiful, and we were delighted to see that a conspiracy of Ring-tailed Lemurs have moved into an exhibit adjacent to the petting tanks! And if you’re very lucky, you can be at the Ocean Journey tanks to watch volunteer divers cleaning the aquarium while sharks, turtles, and fish swim all around them.

watching tanks and petting stingrays at the TN Aquarium in Chattanooga
Interactive exhibits at the TN Aquarium

Planning Your Visit to the Tennessee Aquarium

Purchase your timed-entry tickets in advance online before you go. Due to capacity limits, some time slots may sell out – especially on weekends or holidays.

I suggest allowing at least three hours to finish your tour of the aquarium, depending on how many kids you have with you and how quickly they like to move through exhibits. My marine biology lover took almost five hours, but that also included an IMAX movie, a backstage tour, and thoroughly exploring EVERY exhibit in both buildings.

We loved learning about hatching baby saltwater fish on the Backstage Tour!

Strollers are permitted but on a busy weekend, they will slow you down. There are restrooms located throughout both buildings and also outside, and there are nursing rooms available.

In addition to the self-guided aquarium tour, the Tennessee Aquarium also offers:

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  • IMAX Movie Theater, which offers a state-of-the-art sound systems and six story screen.
  • Seasonal exhibits throughout the year
  • Educator Guides for teachers and homeschoolers

There are discounts available when you buy a combination ticket. Be prepared for a lot of walking! Wear comfortable shoes, and iff you can schedule an IMAX movie in between your tours of the two buildings, it’s a nice rest. Note: The IMAX Theater is not located at the Aquarium – it’s a short block away. See the Campus Map

Tennessee Aquarium Admission Prices & Details

UPDATED 2023 Prices*

Admission to the Aquarium is $39.95 for adults and $29.95 for kids ages 5-17 (ages 4 and under are free). Combine your Aquarium ticket with our other options and get the COMBO price:

  • Add an IMAX movie for just $8 per person
  • Hotel packages as well as group discounts are also available
  • A 20% Military, First Responder and Educator Discount available.

View Website | Tennessee Aquarium on Facebook
Phone: 800-262-0695
Address: One Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402 (map)

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