Despite our landlocked borders and fly-over status, the Midwest has quite a few great aquariums.
During a family road trip we overnighted in Tulsa an had an opportunity to visit the Tulsa Aquarium. We found an incredible array of salt and fresh water fish, opportunities to touch stingray, shark and shrimp and even feed turtles! Wander through the shark adventure to watch the toothy beasts swim over and around you. Daily otter feeding will elicit giggles and seeing the interaction of the coral reef divers and the colorful fish will make you wish you could dive in, too.
Open daily at 10am. Closed Christmas Day.
Pratt Education Center, Aquariums and Fish Hatchery, Kansas
Though you won’t find colorful salt water species here, the Pratt Aquariums feature fish that are native to, or have been successfully introduced to, Kansas. Biologists are on hand to show you through the building and answer any questions. The gem of this exhibit, though, is the wildlife right outside the door. The nearby ponds are popular with heron, ducks, and mink, for their abundant food supply.
Open Monday thru Friday at 8am.
Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium, Nebraska
This unique aquarium is popular for its affordability- only $1 for adults and 50¢ for children. A total of 12 large display tanks display Nebraska’s native water life; the largest tank is designed to host some of Nebraska’s largest fishes, including the Paddlefish. In addition to fish you’ll also see amphibians and reptiles.
Open year round at 10am. Days may vary due to season.
Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium, North Dakota
Another aquarium and fish hatchery focusing on local fish. In the fall migrating salmon return to the hatchery, delighting hikers along the river.
Open Memorial Day to Labor Day at 8am.
Minnesota Sea Life Aquarium
Take a break from your shopping at the Mall of America and take an underwater adventure. Over 10,000 sea creatures can be seen here- from the Giant Pacific Octopus to adorable miniature seahorses. 300 feet of ocean tunnel, touch pools and interactive quiz trails make this a fun and educational experience.
Open daily at 10am.
Aquarium exhibits show fish and wildlife that live in and along the river; a favorite is the river otters sliding in and out of the water, while perhaps less popular are the snakes that are found in the area. Instead of a large aquarium tank, several smaller aquariums highlight different aspects of river life.
The Port of Dubuque area where the museum is located is adjacent to Dubuque’s downtown, and just steps away from a casino, a riverwalk area, and the Spirit of Dubuque paddlewheeler, which gives tours of the Mississippi River itself.
Open daily at 9am Memorial Day weekend thru October 31; open 10am daily November 1 til Memorial Day weekend
World Aquarium, Missouri
Also located near the Mississippi River in St. Louis, in the fabulous City Museum. Featuring aquatic life from around the globe you’re likely to see fish you’ve never heard of. Plenty of hands on exhibits for kids plus adorable otters, slow moving sloths and snapping turtles mean kids will adore this aquarium.
To visit the World Aquarium you must purchase admission to the City Museum.
Schedule varies during the year. Closed Monday and Tuesday, open at 9am Wednesday thru Saturday and 11am on Sunday.
The most well known of all Midwest Museums, the Shedd sits along Lake Michigan in Chicago. Possibly the largest assortment of marine life in the Midwest you’ll find everything from anacondas to Zebra sharks. See the difference between the river and sea otters. Learn why the Lungfish can breathe in both air and water. Or just enjoy the grace of the dolphins.
Open year round at 9am.
Reiman Aquarium, Wisconsin
Inside Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin in Milwaukee you’ll find aquatic life from the Great Lakes, North Atlantic and Caribbean. A touch tank lets you get up close and personal with stingrays, shark and lobster.
Admission to Discovery World includes the aquarium. Closed Monday; open Tuesday – Friday at 9am, Saturday and Sunday at 10am.
Oklahoma Aquarium; JLHalsted
Midwest travel tales at Family Rambling.