The Best Aquariums to See Sharks

Any aquarium can fill a fish tank, these places take it to another level.

By AT&T Digital Media Productions editorial team



Here are the top 5 best shark exhibits across the country:


National Aquarium: Baltimore, MD


Located next to Baltimore Harbor, the National Aquarium boasts a ton of great exhibits, but we’re here for the sharks. Shark Alley offers visitors nose-to-nose experiences with everything from the sand tiger shark to the obscure Largetooth Sawfish.

The ring-shaped exhibit surrounds visitors, so there’s no bad angles in this 225,000 gallon tank.

Bonus: The aquarium offers a “shark sleepover,” where visitors spend the night in the exhibit and can even walk on a catwalk with the sharks mere inches below. Gives new meaning to “sleeping with the fishes.”


Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay: Las Vegas, NV

Daniel Ramirez/Flickr

Vegas might be known for glitz and gambling, but step inside Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef, and you’ll forget all about the bright lights as you zen out in this 1.6 million gallon aquatic paradise. Walk through the tunnel, where you’ll experience a nearly 360º view of 11 different types of sharks. You can watch the sharks being fed, and for true thrill seekers, there’s the opportunity to get in the tank with the creatures themselves.

Bonus: If sharks aren’t scary enough for you, the aquarium holds the rare golden crocodile, an endangered 20-foot predator that has been known to swim long distances by sea.


Adventure Aquarium: Camden, NJ


Located on the Camden waterfront just minutes from downtown Philadelphia, this aquarium boasts the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast, and is the only aquarium in the USA with great hammerhead sharks (among several other hammerhead species).

The Ocean Realm exhibit is filled with 760,000 gallons of saltwater, surrounding guests with two movie screen-sized windows for their shark viewing pleasure.

Bonus: This aquarium also offers prom and wedding packages. That’s right: you can dance the night away surrounded by aggressive ocean predators. Who said romance was dead?


Oregon Coast Aquarium: Newport, OR

Oregon Coast Aquarium Halibut Exhibit/Flickr

The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s shark exhibit mimics the open sea, with the idea being that the farther the guests walk in the “Passages of the Deep” tunnel, the deeper they move into the Pacific Ocean.

This aquarium boasts five species of sharks, all of which are native to Oregon’s coastal waters. Sharks range from the massive broadnose sevengill (which, you guessed it, has seven gill slits) to the unusual spiny dogfish shark, with its venomous spine.

Bonus: The aquarium regularly hosts beach clean-ups, making it easy and accessible to help the environment and clean up our waters.


Newport Aquarium: Cincinnati, OH

Jeff Kubina/Flickr

While Ohio is probably the last place you’d think of to have a fin-tastic shark selection, this aquarium hosts more than a dozen species of sharks, including the California leopard shark, and the Port Jackson shark (which spends most its time hanging out on the floor of the tank).

This aquatic adventure offers visitors the chance to cross “Shark Bridge,” a 75 foot long netted enclosure that looms over a 385,000 gallon open water tank. If that’s not thrilling enough for you, try petting the sharks in the Shark Central exhibit.

Bonus: In addition to the more traditional sharks on display, the aquarium is home to four shark rays, name Sweetpea, Scooter, Sunshine, and Spike.  These creatures have a skeleton made of cartilage, and a body that resembles a stingray/shark hybrid.


So there you have it; the 5 best aquariums in the USA to scope some fin and get your shark fix.


Tune in to Discovery to watch the 29th anniversary of Shark Week.


Sources: Aqua, Shark Reef, Adventure Aquarium, Aquarium, Newport Aquarium.