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Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth

3.2
#4 of 12 in Zoos & Aquariums in Minnesota
Great Lakes Aquarium is located in Duluth. Plan to visit Great Lakes Aquarium and other customer-reviewed, writer-recommended Duluth attractions using our Duluth trip itinerary site .
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Great Lakes Aquarium Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 3.5
439 reviews
Google
4.2
TripAdvisor
  • We had this aquarium in the list of top 5 attractions we wanted to visit in Duluth. But, it was not very impressive. We have visited a lot of better ones along the coastline of California. The shark f...  more »
  • This is a modern place with the usual assortment of tanks, exhibits, instructional shows by employees, etc. There are fish from other parts of the world, but the focus on more local fish (local as in ...  more »
  • We went to the Great Lakes aquarium and I was really impressed. Much bigger inside than expected and it was just loaded with fish and other creatures. Lots of history on the great lakes, fresh water a...  more »
Google
  • The place is pretty cool. My boyfriend really enjoyed it. They have shows every half hour or hour so we walked around while seeing the shows. The zebra shark was definitely awesome! I loved the little jellyfish, tiger fish, and the bird gallery; the bugs they had there were cool too. It's not as great as some aquariums but I think it's worth the price. Plus they have interesting rescue stories on how they got some of the animals, that's always appreciated.
  • Great place to visit if you like fish and like to learn. Staff is very friendly and informative. Admission price is high for some but really is standard when compared to any other museums, zoo, or aquarium. Bonus is a great view of the harbor and lift bridge.
  • A great cross between an aquarium and a science museum that details the unique animals and ecosystems of the upper Midwest, particularly Lake Superior. The highlight is definitely the sturgeon pool, where guests can PET these living fossils (which are actually quite friendly with distinctive personalities!). Live feedings of the nurse shark, electric eel, and otters are other high points, along with the large scale lock and dam model for younger kids.
  • Admission can be somewhat expensive, so we got a year membership and it has more than paid for its self. We come here all the time with our two kids and they both love it. The touch tank is very cool
  • We attended the aquarium's Nov-March seasonal special: Toddler Tuesday (10am-12pm), where anyone who brings a child under 2 gets a discount on all their tickets. It is VERY worth making the effort because the discount is huge. Not only that, but winter parking is free. On entering, a huge two-story fountain greets you. Across from that is the gift shop, and between are picnic tables with an amazing view where several families had already set up with their lunches. Though the aquarium does not sell premade food, you can bring your own and eat it in this area. Elevators are available on either side of the giant waterfall, making it highly accessible for wheelchairs and strollers, and a coat room is on the left behind the escalator. There is no coat room attendant or lock or tags, just a long space with coat hangers, so be sure to keep valuables with you. The aquarium is very warm, even on one of the coldest, most windy days. This makes it a fantastic winter destination. The exhibits are numerous and probably better detailed by others. I enjoyed the electric eel, which had Christmas lights it could turn on and off with its own electricity. They flickered wildly when we stopped to look at it. Later, I got to stroke my finger along some fish at the petting pool. The views of Lake Superior were everywhere, and they often had benches tucked in a quiet spot nearby so you can sit and watch the water. Lots of little interactive displays meant I had to pry my kid away when it was time to leave. From a ship steering wheel to multiple movable fact displays, something to draw my kid seemed to be around every corner. Both of my kids loved the water play area, though it should be noted that you'll want a change of clothes just in case. They can sail boats around through canals, like my 4-year-old, or just splash wildly like my 1-year-old. One of the aquarium personnel mentioned a little boy running around in his diaper because he fell in and said she thought that would be a good preventative measure. It was warm enough inside that water play in a diaper or swimsuit would be fine. On the second floor, a twisty tree-themed slide could have kept my 4yo busy all day, and the boat on the floor kept my 1yo busy, but there are no doors or gates to keep a curious toddler from toddling out of the area and to the top of nearby stairs, so we didn't stay as long as my 4yo would have liked. This is the only complaint I had about the second floor -- that small children (those who still need a baby gate at home) can't roam freely because of the stairs. I kept my daughter in her stroller most of the time, and she pointed and babbled when she noticed a fish. (Plenty of exhibits are low enough for a child in a stroller to enjoy.) The otter area looks amazing (see pictures), but there seemed to be no otter. Not sure what was going on, but I'm sure they won't leave it empty for long. We kept busy a LOT longer than I expected to, and they seem to have put a lot of work into both the atmosphere and the attractions. All of the personnel we encountered were INCREDIBLY friendly. The man who sold us our passes advised us about the coat room, we ran into a pair of divers on the second floor who stopped and chatted with my son, and the petting pool lady chatted with us while we waited for the fish to brave swimming toward the surface. Even leaving, we were wished a nice day. Is this place worth experiencing when you visit Duluth? Yes. Especially if you have kids. It is expensive to visit, but probably less expensive than someplace that makes you buy tokens for games. Is this place worth an expensive membership pass? Depends on how often you'll visit. If your child is interested in fish, water play, interactive exhibits, exploring every inch of this GIGANTIC facility, or even just sliding down the cool twisty slide when the weather is too rough for outdoor sliding, and if you're willing to bring them enough times to get your money's worth, then yeah. Worth it. (As of right now, 1 family membership for 1 adult & child will pay itself off in 4 visits.)

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Where to stay in Duluth

Canal Park and the downtown areas offer a full range of lodging, including tower hotels, national-chain motels, inns, and bed and breakfasts. For a more scenic stay, book accommodation with views of Lake Superior. Staying in Canal Park or downtown puts you within easy reach of numerous restaurants, shops, and attractions, but you should also consider bedding down in the historical area east of Chester Park. Many of the inns and bed and breakfasts here occupy turn-of-the-century mansions, and the neighborhood itself offers a quiet respite from busy downtown and Canal Park.
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