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South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston

3.8
#3 of 7 in Zoos & Aquariums in South Carolina
Zoo / Aquarium Nature / Park
Home to over 10,000 plants and animals, including sharks, otters, turtles, an albino alligator, hawks, and jellyfish, South Carolina Aquarium offers dive shows and animal programs every day. You'll witness a mountain forest and the plateaus of the Appalachians, nine galleries of aquatic animals, and numerous rotating exhibits. You'll be able to touch crabs and stingrays and take a tour of the sea turtle hospital. Watch a 4-D movie. The aquarium is home to 60 different nature habitats. Kids can explore the mini Madagascar exhibit, designed particularly for those who are in need of extra climbing and jumping. Plan to visit South Carolina Aquarium during your Charleston vacation using our convenient Charleston trip generator.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
1,650 reviews
Google
4.2
  • This is a very nice aquarium, particularly for kids (lots of hands-on experiences.) It's best to park at the visitor's Center and take the free trolley to the Aquarium (10 minute trip one the bus arri...  more »
  • This is such an interesting and fun-filled place for people of all ages! There is an outdoor exhibit, where there are pelicans and other birds of the lowcountry. There is Liberty, a bald eagle. There ...  more »
  • We visited without kids and still enjoyed it! Very very family friendly with lots for kids to do. Stunning multi story tank located right on the harbor  more »
Google
  • This is easily was one the best aquariums I have ever been to, easily besting the national aquarium in Baltimore. Its design is very modern and elegant. There are two floors offering multiple exhibits such as an indoor rain forest and fresh / salt water aquatic life. The aquarium has one of the deepest tanks in the United States. There are several shows that allow audience participation which my kids thoroughly enjoyed. Plus many exhibits are interactive like the ability to feed invertebrates and pet sharks and stingrays. The aquarium offers beautiful views overlooking Charleston and the bridge and is easily one of the best places to visit while downtown.
  • A truly unique aquarium experience. While the facilities are rather small the exhibits are very diverse. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. There are plenty of opportunities for children of all ages to interact with everything from stingrays to tiger salamanders, alligators and fresh water turtles. The new sea turtle rescue is very well done. It is actually possible to watch procedures and observe the patients.
  • I honestly didn't expect much, I lived in Chicago and had a Shedd Aquarium membership for years. This was the perfect aquarium for a fun family visit. My daughter who is 4 years old loved it. There was a great mix of hands-on and unique viewing of sea life. It took us about 3 hours to get through (we stopped and played and read every sign). Highlights were the otters, the alligator and the touch tanks. The staff was outstanding in their explanations. We loved watching the scuba divers in the big tank and my daughter loved having to opportunity to ask him a question, amazed that he could talk underwater.
  • The South Carolina Aquarium is an excellent showcase for the native animals of the area. Its residents include Liberty the bald eagle, Ace and Stone the river otters, and hundreds of other fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The exhibits guide you from a glimpse of local sea life in a two story, 385,000 gallon tank, to a mountain stream in the upstate, teeming with crawfish and trout. The views of the harbor are some of the best in the area, and showcase the wild dolphins who frequent the area. There are two touch areas, as well as opportunities to feed some of the animals. The newest addition is the Sea Turtle Hospital, which highlights the hard work of the Men and women who assist injured Turtles with returning to the wild, as well as showcasing many Turtles up close. Definitely worth a stop.
  • On a rainy day during our vacation we decided to take a trip to this aquarium. While the staff was very nice and informative, the price (approximately $30 per person) was not worth the approximate 1-1.5 hours it took us to go through the place. That included stopping at touch tanks and such. We were in disbelief when we found ourselves at the end. We had to confirm with staff that that was in fact IT. Someone compared it to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. No comparison. The albino alligator was very cool though. Maybe $15-20/person and it may have been worth it, but otherwise, no. IMO.

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Where to stay in Charleston

Charleston is serviced by dozens of local hotels and practically every major U.S. chain. Expect to pay top dollar for a room on the downtown peninsula, particularly if you wish to stay in one of the historic hotels. The upside of taking a room there is the proximity of all major attractions--you won't need a car to explore and enjoy your visit. Less expensive options are available in North Charleston, West Ashley, and Mount Pleasant, where you'll find all kinds of inns for the budget-conscious traveler.
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