Before Chattanooga became the tourist destination it is today, there was the Tennessee Aquarium, which has become the leader in environmental education and preservation in Tennessee. Set along the river, the aquarium is broken up into two buildings: River Journey and Ocean Journey. The campus also includes an IMAX Theater and the River Cruise Explorer, a boat ride down the city’s waterway.
Start your trip at the Ticket Center, followed by the River Journey, where you’ll start at the Butterfly Garden on the top floor. The open air greenhouse has the exotic winged creatures flying all around you. The exhibit is also full of creatures like otters, frogs, snakes and other wildlife found both in Tennessee and throughout the region.
Across the way at the Ocean Journey are the creatures that make the aquarium so popular. The jellyfish regularly attract crowds of onlookers, as do the massive blue catfish, sand tiger sharks and seahorses. Be sure to schedule your visit around one of the regular feedings, which occur a few times per day.
The aquarium is understandably popular with school groups and scout troupes for its educational department. The Tennessee Aquarium even offers sleepovers at the facility.
If You Go
The Tennessee Aquarium is located at 1 Broad Street, Chattanooga TN, 37402. The aquarium is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. Parking is available at metered spots and paid decks throughout downtown and there is a free shuttle that runs between the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Aquarium.
From I-24 West, go to US Highway 27 north. Take exit 1C right on 4th Street and turn left on Broad Street at the second stoplight. Go two blocks and you’ll see the Aquarium.
Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $13.95 for children. Entrance into the IMAX Theater and River Gorge Explorer are available for an additional fee.