The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga… Ocean Journey & IMAX!

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, TN is one of our families favorite destinations. This past weekend, we went back to visit some of the kids favorite exhibits, along with their new Lemur exhibit.

The Tennessee Aquarium is open 7 days a week, from 10:00am to 6:00pm daily. This time, we chose to go on a Sunday which works out great because parking in metered spaces is free. A definite plus when you are going with a family of five. We immediately went in and purchased tickets which run:

Standard Aquarium Tickets
Adults $29.95
Children $18.95

Aquarium/IMAX flex Combo
Adults $37.95 Children $26.95

In my opinion, the IMAX movies are well worth seeing so I’d recommend the combo ticket. Of note, you select a show time when purchasing your tickets (IMAX), but it is a flex pass so if you happen to run over time while touring the aquarium, you can show up to the theater and see ANY showtime… you are not locked in to seeing the one you selected on arrival.

Of note is the entrance to the aquarium… it includes a walkway bridge garden that kids love running over and various areas with running water, artistically placed in the concrete that act as a splash pad of sorts for kids in the summer which is great. Clearly not an option on a winter day however. On entering, the aquarium exhibits start on the top floor after riding the escalator up.

The first exhibit that you encounter are the new lemur’s which have set feeding times and we were fortunate to walk through only moments after they were fed. They were energetic and the kids enjoyed watching them climb all over, interact, and eat the food placed out.

Just past the lemurs is the touch tank that has a variety of stingrays, guitar fish, and even a small shark. A staff member, in this case a wondering lady named Sharon who was engaging and fielded questions from the kids and directed visitors on how to safety pet interact with the stingrays.

Next up is the butterfly garden, a great reprieve from the cold. I’m not familiar with the various species names, but there were dozens fluttering around the room that visitors can walk near and expect them to either land on you, or to step on your finger if presented to them gently.

The next exhibit was a located a floor below via escalator ride… the penguins. They have an entire wall available where you can see them resting above the water, with several zooming back and forth underwater, often being playful and curious to the visitors observing them. There’s also a area with holes that you can dip your hand into with water that is at he same temperature as that in the tank… COLD.

Moving on to the main part of the aquarium, the multi level tank includes a variety of fish, large sharks, and even sea turtles (my Wife and youngest son’s favorite).

Beyond the main aquarium are a variety of tanks included sea urchins, jelly fish, man-o-wars, sea crabs, and even an octopus!

Finally we made our way to a passageway that goes through a portion of the main aquarium tank… the lighting of which is amazing and gives the feel of being under the ocean. I’m aware that the Tennessee Aquarium offers sleep over events in this area for Homeschooling or Scouting groups that I’ve heard great reviews of and would like to try sometime.

On exiting the aquarium (ocean side) you exit via a gift shop that in our opinion, had some really great prices and options with stuffed ocean critters starting in the $8 range on upwards. On this particular day we didn’t have a chance to visit the river side of the aquarium, but plan to in the not distant future. In the mean time, we had to hurry across the street to the IMAX theater to see Amazon Adventure 3D which was a fantastic movie! Concession prices were again reasonable and I must say that the theater itself was spotless.

All in all, we had a great time visiting the Tennessee Aquarium and we’re looking forward to returning again in the near future. Hope you decide to check it out either for the first time, or for a return trip soon!

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