Tennessee Aquarium: A World-Class Aquatic Adventure


The Tennessee Aquarium, often referred to as the Chattanooga Aquarium, is a top-notch aquatic attraction offering visitors a unique entertaining experiences.

Located in Chattanooga, this remarkable destination showcases a diverse array of marine and freshwater species from around the globe. Within its two main exhibit buildings, River Journey and Ocean Journey, guests can explore various habitats and encounter their fascinating inhabitants.

Featuring a range of aquatic creatures from freshwater fish to sharks and stingrays, the Chattanooga Aquarium is the perfect place to visit for a great adventure.

Tennessee Aquarium Shark
Tennessee Aquarium Turtle
Chattanooga Aquarium

Tennessee Aquarium history

Designed by renowned architect Peter Chermayeff, the Chattanooga Aquarium’s River Journey building was the first structure to be completed.

It was, at the time, the largest freshwater aquarium in the world, drawing attention to the diverse aquatic life found in rivers and focusing primarily on the ecosystems of the Tennessee River.

The aquarium’s success led to the construction of the Ocean Journey building, which opened in 2005.

The Ocean Journey expanded the aquarium’s scope to include marine habitats and species, such as coral reefs, sharks, and penguins, further enhancing the visitor experience.

Exhibits and attractions

The Tennessee Aquarium features two main exhibit buildings: River Journey and Ocean Journey. These exhibits showcase a wide range of aquatic species and habitats, offering visitors an immersive experience as they explore the fascinating world of both freshwater and marine environments.

River Journey

This exhibit focuses on the diverse ecosystems found in rivers, from the nearby Tennessee River to the far-reaching Amazon Basin. As you make your way through the River Journey, you’ll encounter various habitats and their unique inhabitants:

  • Appalachian Cove Forest: This exhibit replicates a mountain stream and its surrounding forest, home to native species like the river otter, brook trout, and various amphibians.
  • Rivers of the World: Explore the fish and wildlife found in major river systems such as the Mississippi, Congo, and Mekong, as well as the Amazon rainforest.
  • Tennessee River Gallery: Discover the diverse species that inhabit the Tennessee River, including catfish, paddlefish, and sturgeon.
  • Delta Country: Get a glimpse of the vibrant life found in the Mississippi Delta, including alligators, turtles, and numerous bird species.
  • Seahorses: Marvel at the delicate beauty and unique biology of seahorses and their relatives, including pipefish and sea dragons.

Tennessee Aquarium Lizard
Tennessee Aquarium Octopus

Ocean Journey

The other part of the aquarium is the Ocean Journey. This exhibit transports visitors to the world of marine environments, featuring species from the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the open ocean. Key attractions in this building include:

  • Secret Reef: This massive exhibit represents the coral reefs of the Caribbean and is home to various shark species, sea turtles, and a diverse array of tropical fish.
  • Boneless Beauties: Get up close and personal with captivating invertebrates such as jellyfish, octopuses, and cuttlefish.
  • Penguins’ Rock: Observe the playful antics of Gentoo and Macaroni penguins as they swim, dive, and waddle in their temperature-controlled habitat.
  • Touch Tanks: Feel the texture of marine creatures like stingrays, horseshoe crabs, and sea stars as you interact with them in the touch tanks.

Both the River Journey and Ocean Journey exhibits showcase a variety of additional habitats and species, providing visitors with an engaging and educational experience.

Tennessee Aquarium Alligator
Aquarium Chattanooga TN

You can also touch some of the animals. Stingrays and many other aquatic animals offer places to interact. Next to these areas you can find hand washing stations or hand sanitizers.

How much does it cost to visit Tennessee Aquarium?

Visiting the aquarium can be a very affordable day trip or weekend getaway. Tennessee Aquarium tickets can be purchased online or at the aquarium.

If you plan to buy at the facility, be aware that tickets are sold in a different building across the street from the aquarium. If you buy online, you can enter directly into one of the two aquarium buildings. These are Ocean Journey and River Journey.

Tennessee Aquarium Penguins

Current prices can be found on their official website. If you want to enter aquarium IMAX in addition to the entrance to the Aquarium, you need to buy a ticket separately.

If you buy an annual membership, you can enter the aquarium at any time throughout the year. Let us remind you that children up to the age of two are also admitted free of charge.

Where is the Tennessee Aquarium?

The Chattanooga Aquarium, nestled in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a must-visit attraction for anyone wanting to discover the wonders of aquatic life. To get there, you have several options depending on your starting point.

  • By car: If you’re driving, Chattanooga is conveniently situated at the crossroads of Interstates 24, 59, and 75. There are ample parking options near the aquarium.
  • By bus: For those traveling by bus, Greyhound operates services to Chattanooga, with the station located at 740 E 12th Street, roughly 1.5 miles from the aquarium. To cover the remaining distance, you can take a taxi, rideshare, or use Chattanooga’s public transit system, CARTA.

Once you’re in Chattanooga, you can take advantage of the free Electric Shuttle, which stops at the aquarium and runs every 15 minutes throughout downtown. For more details on planning your visit, head to the aquarium’s official website.

Parking options

There are several convenient parking options near the aquarium in Chattanooga for visitors arriving by car.

  • Tennessee Aquarium/IMAX Parking Garage: Located at 201 Chestnut Street, this parking garage is the closest option, situated just a short walk from the aquarium. It offers both hourly and daily parking rates.
  • Republic Parking Lots: There are numerous Republic Parking surface lots available in the downtown area, within walking distance of the Chattanooga Aquarium. Rates and availability may vary depending on the specific lot and time of day.
  • Metered Street Parking: You can also find metered street parking spots in the vicinity of the Chattanooga Aquarium. Be sure to check the posted signs for time limits, restrictions, and payment requirements.
  • CARTA North Shore Parking Garage: This parking garage, located at 215 Walnut Street, is another option within walking distance of the aquarium. The garage is operated by the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) and offers both hourly and daily parking rates.

Please note that it is always a good idea to arrive early, especially during peak visiting times, to ensure you find a convenient parking spot.



How long does it take to visit the entire aquarium?

The time required to visit the entire Chattanooga Aquarium varies depending on individual preferences and interests. On average, visitors spend around 2-3 hours exploring the exhibits, but some may take longer to fully appreciate the various habitats, interact with educational exhibits, and participate in additional programs or activities. It’s a good idea to allocate at least half a day for a visit to the aquarium to make the most of your experience.

What makes this aquarium special?

The aquarium stands out due to its focus on both marine and freshwater ecosystems. It houses an impressive collection of species and offers immersive exhibits that enable visitors to explore diverse aquatic habitats.

The aquarium is dedicated to conservation and education, offering numerous programs to teach visitors about the importance of preserving our planet’s aquatic ecosystems. Additionally, the aquarium’s location along the banks of the Tennessee River adds a unique backdrop and context to the experience.

What is the largest aquarium in Tennessee?

The largest aquarium in Tennessee is the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. It is a premier aquatic attraction featuring two main buildings, the River Journey and the Ocean Journey, which showcase a wide variety of marine and freshwater species from around the world.

How far is Ruby Falls from Tennessee Aquarium?

Ruby Falls is approximately 3.6 miles from the here. The drive between the two attractions takes about 15 minutes, depending on traffic. Both attractions are popular destinations for tourists visiting Chattanooga.


Undoubtedly, embarking on a journey through the mesmerizing realm of marine wonders, this attraction emerges as an irresistible destination for inquisitive minds, young and old alike. Exhibits teeming with intrigue and immersive escapades envelop one’s senses, creating an unforgettable aquatic sojourn.

Nestled within Chattanooga’s bustling cityscape, the Tennessee Aquarium stands as not only a beacon of delight but also a vital repository of knowledge.

Delving into the intricate tapestry of ecosystems, the aquarium sheds light on the delicate balance shared by a diverse range of marine and freshwater denizens.