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Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga: A Must Visit Place

Established in 1992, the Tennessee Aquarium is one of the largest freshwater aquariums globally and one of the main attractions in Chattanooga.

It has had over 20 million visitors since its inception, and it continues to add to this number. The aquarium is much more than just a regular fish tank with myriad varieties of fish, celebrating the rich flora and fauna of the Southeastern part of the United States.

The aquarium is a non-profit organization that is working towards restoring freshwater ecosystems and improving the environmental health of the region.

It has an exceptional conservation arm, the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, that focuses on scientific research and conservation of aquatic species. It works towards the restoration of freshwater ecosystems, including the water quality and rehabilitation of native marine species back to southeastern waters

Education is one of the key aims of the aquarium, and in this regard, it conducts many education and outreach programs for adults and children. Its idea is to make them aware of the aquatic species in surrounding areas. There are many camps, workshops for children as well as internships for college students for the same.

Besides all the educational programs, the aquarium is home to many sea creatures, all peeping out from beautiful display exhibits, waiting to be adored by visitors.

All your senses will be delighted to see the variety of Tennessee Aquarium animals, from the playful dolphins to the deadly sharks, all living peacefully in their natural habitat. It also hosts special events and shows to make your trip all the more memorable.

So if you are visiting the area and want to have an exhilarating experience and at the same time learn about marine life, a trip to Tennessee Aquarium is a must. The latest Tennessee Aquarium prices and hours are mentioned on the website.

So get ready for an action-packed day with a lot of fun stuff waiting just for you. Click here to know more.


The journey of the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga started way back in 1984 when the residents of Chattanooga started with “Vision 2000” to restore the downtown’s vitality.

A group of students from the architecture department of the University of Tennessee suggested the idea of an aquarium near the downtown waterfront. This 20-year plan needed $750 million.

In the 1990s, the plan started taking shape, and in 1992, the Tennessee Aquarium Chattanooga finally came into being.


Tennessee Aquarium is not just a simple aquarium with only display tanks spread across the location. It is an entire thriving ecosystem with a wide range of activities to experience. From celebrating special days like birthdays and weddings to having summer camps and live encounters,

Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tn, is an experience to be felt once in your lifetime. And the best part is that it is affordable with the Tennessee Aquarium tickets discount for all age groups.

Here are some of the reasons why this is one of the most popular aquariums in the United States:

IMAX 3-D Theater

Travel to far-off lands, dive into the azure blue oceans and have wild encounters with sea creatures at the Tennessee Aquarium Imax theater.

It is one of the main attractions here, with many shows planned throughout the day. You need to purchase tickets for these Tennessee Aquarium Imax shows separately.

At present, the shows being screened are Turtle Odyssey, showcasing the life cycle of an Australian green sea turtle and how it voyages across the ocean.

The other one is the Superpower Dogs and the Great Barrier Reef. All three shows offer unforgettable adventures with these exotic sea creatures.

Diversity of Animals

Home to more than 12,000 sea animals with about 800 species, the aquarium has one of the most diverse collections of freshwater species in the United States.

Two unique structures here are the River Journey building displaying turtles, otters, seahorses, and trout and the Ocean Journey building. In this 60,000-square-foot structure live the colorful jellyfish, deadly sharks, penguins, octopuses and butterflies.


There are many packages offered that allow entry to the aquarium, along with some shows and events. You can also take a Tennessee Aquarium backstage pass and witness behind the scene stories.

Discount Tickets

There are many discounts to the Tennessee Aquarium for visitors to avail. For instance, you can get a Tennessee Aquarium AAA discount ticket if you are a member of the AAA club.

There is a Tennessee Aquarium teacher discount wherein you can get tickets at a lower price and give a valid teacher’s ID. Similarly, there is a Tennessee Aquarium student discount and a Tennessee Aquarium military discount. For military personnel, there is a 10% waiver on the original ticket prices.

You can also club visiting two or more places and get a package discount on them. For instance, there is a Tennessee Aquarium, and ruby falls tickets discount available for all those who want to visit both of these places. Can avail of all these discounts for Tennessee Aquarium tickets from the front desk or online.

Free Days

Some days of the year, the aquarium gives out free tickets to people. Find out about these special days and book your space in advance.

Homeschool Day

As part of the membership plan, the aquarium gives special discounted tickets to homeschool families. So if you have homeschooled in the past or are with homeschoolers now, students between the ages of 5-18 years can get special discounted rates on tickets.

The discounted rate is Aquarium $9.00 and IMAX $6.00. It is Aquarium $29.95 and IMAX $8.00.

College Days

A new program started in October, wherein all college students, staff and faculty can get to visit the aquarium and IMAX theater at 50% off. You need to show an ID card as proof.

Tennessee Aquarium Research Institute

The aquarium is not only a place for fun and entertainment, but it is also a platform for research and conservation. A lot of good work is done at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) to help in the conservation and rehabilitation of marine life around this part of the country.

As part of the program, it educates visitors on freshwater problems and makes them aware of freshwater conservation. It also trains freshwater scientists in conservation.

All those with a research bent of mind and inclination towards conservation can apply for aquarium jobs. The latest information about it is available on their official website.


The aquarium endeavors to educate both children and adults about aquatic life and its conservation. With this aim, it has many activities for children that keep them engaged with nature at home.

There is a list of resources that is in line with the content children learn in school. They include printable activities, projects and some outdoor ideas that take the kids into the backyard and discover nature in a novel manner.

Similarly, the aquarium staff also plans activities for facilitators and teachers. These help curate programs for students in a more interactive way that is relevant to the current scenario. Check out the website to get detailed information on both.

Panther chameleon
Panther Chameleon © Tennessee Aquarium

Admission & Tickets

Visiting the aquarium is relatively simple. All you have to do is buy the tickets either online or at the front desk, and you have got yourself entry to one of the most beautiful aquariums in the United States. Tennessee Aquarium Chattanooga tickets for adults cost $34.95 and for children between 3-12 years is $21.95.

All kids below three years have free entry. Please note that entry to IMAX is not included in this, so if you want to experience an edge-of-your-seat adventure, book your tickets at $8 for adults and children. You can also pick up combo tickets.


If you want to get some freebies or packages at the aquarium, try to procure coupons for Tennessee Aquarium. However, be sure of getting it from verified and trusted vendors. For instance, Tennessee Aquarium Groupon is a known entity and always has some great offers.

All you need to do is give the Tennessee Aquarium promo code, and you can avail the benefits. There are particular coupons given annually such as Tennessee Aquarium coupons 2019. So keep a lookout for the coupons for this year as well.


Tennessee Aquarium ticket prices differ for members. So if you are a resident of the area or plan to visit the aquarium frequently, it is best to invest in this membership. There are different types of memberships as per your family size and the rate for change.

  • Tennessee Aquarium family membership for $175. It includes two adults and gives children between 3-18 years of age.
  • Individual Plus: One member and one guest of any age
  • Family+Guest for $225. It is the same as family members with the inclusion of one guest in each visit
  • Deluxe for $300. It includes the same benefits as family+ guests but has unlimited IMAX entry.

Tennessee Aquarium membership benefits are umpteen. It not only gives you discounted tickets but also has unlimited admission to the venue for a year. You can also save at the gift shop, guest tickets, free and discounted member events, and an exclusive preview of special exhibitions.

Along with that, you get discounts on nearby attractions too.

  • Zoo Atlanta: $3 off
  • Nashville Zoo: $4 off
  • Biltmore: $10 off adult
  • Dollywood and Dollywood Splash Country: $5 off
  • Knoxville Zoo: 50% off general admission for two adults and four children
  • High Point Climbing and Fitness: $4.50 off adult/$2.00 off child
  • Creative Discovery Museum: $2 off
  • Chattanooga Zoo: 15% off
  • Grille Downtown: 15% off one entrée per pass-holder

Chattanooga Aquarium Virtual Tour

The aquarium has a stream of live streams that can take you through some of the liveliest exhibits and make you feel like a part of the aquarium. Tennessee Aquarium live cam captures the best moments of the sea animals without disturbing them. The webcams are put in various exhibits that track the movement of these animals at all times.

Tropical Cam

Dive into the Indo-Pacific tank and see the activity taking in this vibrant ecosystem through the Tennessee Aquarium webcam. With 600 species of reef-building corals and more than 2,000 reef fish species, this tank has magnificent biodiversity.

Penguin Cam

Watch the playful penguins enjoying themselves around the rocks and shallow waters.

Secret Reef Cam

Dive into this saltwater exhibit and see many colorful reef fish, deadly sharks, green sea turtles, and many more. There are two dozen windows in this exhibit that show varied perspectives of their habitat.

Otter Cam

Watch the mysterious Tennessee Aquarium otters play in their exhibit following scents of various kinds. These creatures love to scent-mark all their favorite locations, and experts keep introducing new scents for them to discover.

Sea Lion Underwater
Sea Lion © Tennessee Aquarium


From time to time, the aquarium has special events planned for its visitors. These are over and above the trip to the exhibits.

Birthdays and Weddings

You can celebrate your birthday or wedding here at the aquarium with a unique backdrop of fish, corals and the blue waters with catering, music and décor planned to the last detail.

Just imagine having a Tennessee Aquarium wedding and pictures with sharks and penguins to make for a memory of a lifetime. Will etch these Tennessee Aquarium photos in your memory forever.

Boat Ride

Besides celebrating such events, you must also try out the Tennessee Aquarium boat ride. It takes you downstream from the Chattanooga Pier into the Tennessee River Gorge.

This two-hour cruise is guided by an Aquarium naturalist who educates visitors about the local history and spots wildlife.

Summer Camp

Every year the aquarium hosts summer camps for school children to educate them about varied marine species and mentor them on conservation fun.

This camp allows children to develop an interest in aquatic species and also know more about their conservation. There are many field trips and visit to all the exhibits planned in the camp. You can get discounted prices for the camp through special coupons for Tennessee Aquarium Chattanooga.

Facebook Livestream

As part of the October event, the aquarium will be sharing many live streams on Facebook in October. Each of these live streams will begin at 3:30 pm ET.

There will be a weekly schedule showcasing various species of sea animals and birds. Check out the website for detailed information. Such live streams are a regular feature at the aquarium. It is to generate more interest in people and make them aware of the wondrous aquatic life.


Washed Ashore Art Exhibit
Washed Ashore Art Exhibit © Tennessee Aquarium

With more than 12,000 sea animals living in the aquarium, it is a complete ecosystem of freshwater life in the United States’ southeastern waterways.

All these beautiful creatures are showcased through magnificent and awe-inspiring display exhibits, sticking to their natural surroundings. Here are some of the popular exhibits at the aquarium.

River Journey

The River Journey exhibits are showcased in one building. It concentrates on freshwater habitats from the Gulf of Mexico and the mountains of Tennessee. Here there are many exhibits including-

Discovery Hall

You can see vibrant sunfish floating around and baby alligators basking in the swamp area in this exhibit. You can also see the country’s most giant salamander and a variety of frogs chirping all around.

Delta Country

Welcome to the cypress swamp ecosystem thriving with life. The American Alligators, sunfish and ducks are familiar with this exhibit.

Turtles of the World Gallery

This exhibit showcases creatures from all over the world, including a massive variety of turtles.

River Giants

As the name suggests, this exhibit is home to some of the big fish in the area. It is one of the main attractions of the River’s Journey. It has a global collection of behemoths like stingrays, sturgeon, the Giant Pangassius Catfish and many other species about to become extinct.

Appalachian Cove Forest

Walk into the mountain source of the Tennessee River with the whimsical otters, birds chirping all around and the splash of waterfalls. The most popular exhibit here is the River Otter Falls, with the quirky otters doing interesting acrobats with their webbed feet and bushy.

Ocean Journey

It is the second building of the aquarium with a plethora of exhibits showcasing the Tennessee Aquarium electric eel, Tennessee Aquarium sharks, Tennessee Aquarium jellyfish, and much more.

Tropical Cove

This exhibit takes you into a tropical rainforest with vibrant, lush greenery and a family of lemurs lurking in the trees. If you go deeper inside, you will find the most magnificent and scary Stingray Bay touch station. You can touch these deadly creatures through the narrow walls of the tank.

Penguin’s Rock

Watch the Macaroni Penguin and Gentoo Penguin play in their natural habitat as they dive into the water or hide behind the rocks. These Tennessee Aquarium penguins are a delight to watch.

Secret Reef

Mimicking the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary reef system, this dimly-lit tank features some of the dead sea animals in the region. From the sand tiger sharks to the sandbar sharks, this exhibit is worth a watch. You will also see Green Sea Turtles amidst these jaw-dropping beasts in a beautiful coral backdrop.

Boneless Beauties

This exhibit showcases some of the most fascinating and weird animals such as the Giant Pacific Octopus, squid-like Cuttlefish, the electrifying jellyfish, and many others. Watch them dance and make you go into a trance.

Island Life

Watch all the island castaways in this exhibit, including Leon the Chameleon, Emerald Tree Monitor, Radiated Tortoise, and many more.

Butterfly Garden

One of the most colorful exhibits is the Butterfly Garden, with hundreds of butterflies flitting worldwide, including Glass Wings, Monarchs, and Indian Leafs.

The butterflies are mainly from Central and South America. This garden has some exotic flowers, tropical birds and cascading waterfalls. You can learn all about butterfly conservation and gardening from the educational exhibits.

If you are lucky, you might see an adult butterfly as it comes out from the chrysalis and takes flight into the butterfly nursery.

Tennessee Aquarium Gift Shop

Shop till you drop at the gift shop as it has a wide variety of things you can pick up for yourself and your loved ones. From souvenirs, and soft toys to crockery, picture frames and t-shirts.

All the items are reasonably priced and unique. They all bring out the essence of the aquarium. You can also take some great Tennessee Aquarium pictures and get them framed here or convert them into posters. Make memories at the aquarium and carry them with you for life.


If you are fascinated by marine life and want to make a living out of it, working at the aquarium is a great option. It will not only give you a means to your end but also enrich you with beautiful experiences.

You can choose from administration roles to conservation, education and more. The updated list of Tennessee Aquarium careers is available on the website.

Volunteer Opportunities

The aquarium offers many unique and fun volunteer programs for those with an inclination to learn about marine life and its conservation.

There are various departments that you can volunteer in depending on your interest. For instance, you can guide and give information about the various galleries or help with maintaining the exhibits or getting into horticulture.

If you are a certified diver, you can also volunteer for scuba diving activities. The main idea is to get hands-on experience.

Important Information


Tennessee Aquarium’s address is 1 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402.

Operating Hours

The aquarium is open between 10 am, and 5 pm between Sunday and Thursday and between 9 am and 6 pm on Friday and Saturday.


You can easily find the Tennessee Aquarium location through the Tennessee Aquarium map given on the website or call the Tennessee Aquarium phone number – 800.262.0695. The Tennessee Aquarium staff is always there at your service to assist you.

If you are driving down the aquarium, there are three ways to reach the venue. Following are the directions to Tennessee Aquarium:

From I-24 Westbound

Take exit 178 and turn right towards North Market Street. Drive about 2 miles on the way to Aquarium Way and then turn left. Go on one block ahead, and the venue will be to your right.

From I-24 Eastbound

Take exit 178 and turn right on North Broad Street and drive about 2 miles on Aquarium Way and you will see the venue.

From US 27 North

Take exit 1B to MLK Blvd and turn right on it. Go on for two blocks and then turn left on Broad Street. Drive about seven blocks to Aquarium Way, and you will see the venue a little ahead.

If you fly into Chattanooga, then Chattanooga (CHA) Airport is the closest, located about 6.5 miles from the aquarium. You can travel from the airport to the aquarium by bus (Line 4), which will take about 40 minutes, or by taxi which will take around 15 minutes.


There are many options for paid parking for Tennessee Aquarium near the venue and IMAX theater. There is a free shuttle service running daily in downtown Chattanooga to get you to the venue.

Hotels Nearby

If you are a tourist in the area and are on the lookout for comfortable lodging, many Tennessee Aquarium hotels offer luxury, comfort and style.

You can choose from many Tennessee Aquarium hotel packages that vendors offer that would include entry to the aquarium along with some more freebies, or just book a room at a good hotel.

If budget is a constraint, there are many motels near Tennessee Aquarium that provide clean and comfortable lodging options. Here is a list of the best hotels close to Tennessee Aquarium. Please note that the prices are subject to change. For the latest prices, please visit the respective hotel website.

Westin Hotel Downtown Chattanooga

Located just 0.5 miles from Tennessee Aquarium Gatlinburg is this uber-luxurious hotel that offers mesmerizing views of the mountains or downtown from the suites. With many dining options and a lot of facilities, it makes for a comfortable stay. The room is priced at $179 per night.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga

Located only 0.3 miles from Tennessee Aquarium Nashville, the hotel offers all modern comforts and has a great aesthetic appeal. It also provides a free shuttle service to all the nearby attractions. Priced at $139, it is excellent value for money.

Staybridge Suites Convention Center Chattanooga

An upscale hotel, the Staybridge Suites Convention Center has comfortable rooms with all the modern amenities. It is located only a mile away from the aquarium. It is ideal for someone looking for a mid-range hotel close to the venue. Rooms cost $109 per night.

Days Inn Rivergate Chattanooga

If you are on a tight budget and yet want to stay in a good hotel, Days Inn Rivergate is a perfect choice. Priced at $77 per night. It is accessible on the pocket and is located only 0.7 miles from the aquarium.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson

This no-frills hotel is ideal for those on a shoestring budget. Priced at just $75 per night, it provides a comfortable room with all the basic facilities and a complimentary breakfast.

Besides these hotels, there are many cabins near Tennessee Aquarium that give the feel of staying at home and are reasonably priced. So take your pick as per your budget.

Restaurants Nearby

After walking around the aquarium the whole day and encountering some of the most fantastic sea creatures, you are bound to feel hungry. Fret not! There are many great options for food in and around the aquarium.

If you are looking to grab a small bite or want to have a cup of coffee, you could go to the Tennessee Aquarium restaurant. But if you want to satiate those hunger pangs, here are some of the must-eat places.

  • Totto Sushi & Grill: Offers mouthwatering sushi.
  • Easy Bistro & Bar: Enjoy understated elegance with delectable food options. Make it a hit downtown. Steaks, roast chicken and fresh seafood are the favorites here.
  • Hennen’s: Enjoy a great sit-down meal with delicious steaks and beers to go along.
  • The Blue Plate: The perfect breakfast place to eat before you spend the day at the aquarium.
  • Mellow Mushroom Chattanooga Downtown: It is a fun, art-filled pizzeria. If you love pizza, then this is the place for you.

Other Attractions in the Vicinity

The scenic town of Chattanooga offers a lot of things to do and places to visit. From outdoor adventure activities to visiting state-of-the-art museums, you can plan a weekend full of fun things to do.

Here is a list of the best places to visit around the area.

  1. Chattanooga Zoo
  2. Hunter Museum of American Art
  3. Chattanooga Riverwalk
  4. Chattanooga Symphony and Opera
  5. Chattanooga Market
  6. Chattanooga art galleries
  7. Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park/SoakYa Water Park
  8. Ruby Falls
  9. Lookout Mountain trek

Tennessee Aquarium vs Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium globally, with more than 1,00,000 sea animals displayed through magnificent exhibits. It is a scientific institution that focuses more on saving and rehabilitating marine life.

It does a lot of research goes on veterinary medicine and animal care. Besides this, they have exciting exhibits and events going on throughout the year. It is a great place to visit if you have the luxury of time and energy, as it would take a few days to visit the entire aquarium.

On the other hand, the Tennessee Aquarium is a smaller aquarium with fewer sea animals. It is more compact and can be seen in a day. It showcases myriad aquatic creatures in their natural habitat through exhibits.

Besides that, they also have many events and shows to enamor the audience. The IMAX theater is one of the main attractions here, with 3-D movies being screened. You can read Tennessee Aquarium reviews to know from people about their experiences.

Other Nearby Aquariums You Might Like to Visit


Dive into the wonderful world of sea creatures, colorful corals and azure blue waters at the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga.

This abode for freshwater species of the southwestern waterways of the United States is a beautiful place to stop by while in Chattanooga to learn about the aquatic life surrounding you.

The best part is that the Tennessee Aquarium cost is very affordable, making it easier for most of you to visit it.

It is an entertaining hub with thousands of sea animals showcased through beautiful exhibits and a learning platform for children and adults alike.

Through its summer camps, special events, volunteer programs and internships, the aquarium aims to teach everyone the importance of aquatic life and the best way to conserve it.

So get ready for a mind-blowing experience as you come face-to-face with feisty otters, deadly sharks and playful dolphins. Touch a stingray and marvel at the vast coral reefs as you go through the various exhibits.

Spend a day of fun and learning at this haven for aquatic life. You will love every bit of it!