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.
What to See at the Tennessee Aquarium
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 education department. The Tennessee Aquarium even offers sleepovers at the facility.
Tips for Visiting the Tennessee Aquarium
The Tennessee Aquarium is located at 1 Broad Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee 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. Tickets are $34.95 for adults and $21.95 for children. Entrance into the IMAX Theater and River Gorge Explorer are available for an additional fee.
Where to Eat Near the Tennessee Aquarium
If you get hungry after your trip to the Tennessee Aquarium, fear not. You’re surrounded by dining options. Mayan Kitchen has Latin-inspired dishes like Cuban sandwiches and tacos, along with a large tequila selection. For authentic Thai fare, turn to Thai Smile, known for its noodle and curry dishes.
Tony’s Pasta Shop serves up traditional Italian dishes in the Bluff View Arts District. Easy Bistro is one of the city’s best restaurants, with a raw bar and cocktail menu. Big River Grille and Mellow Mushroom are two kid-friendly locales nearby.
Where to Stay Near the Tennessee Aquarium
The Edwin is one of Chattanooga’s stylish boutique hotels with a rooftop bar overlooking the Tennessee River, an outdoor pool, and art-filled rooms. The Residence Inn Chattanooga Downtown has an indoor pool, kitchenettes, and free WiFi.
For an apartment-style experience, check out the large rooms at the Bode Chattanooga. They come with coffee makers, a sprawling living area, and a popular lobby lounge.