The 2 Best Aquariums Near Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio is located on Lake Erie, the fourth-largest lake in the United States. So, it would make sense that the city would boast an aquarium rich in sea life. Yet, it might surprise you to learn that the Greater Cleveland Aquarium just opened in 2012!

Below, we have the full details on the largest aquarium in Cleveland. Then if you’re looking for a drive, we examine another aquarium in Ohio that offers plenty of fun and learning for any wildlife aficionado. Let’s get started with a look at the two best aquariums near Cleveland, Ohio!

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Aquaiums Near Cleveland - Cleveland Skyline
Cleveland is home to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium

The largest aquarium in Cleveland, Ohio, opened way back at the beginning of 2012. Since then, it has served the city of Cleveland graciously, even upgrading its facilities in 2018 to offer more complex systems for the residents and enhance the public experience.

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When visiting this beacon of water life, you have to take in all the provided zones. This aquarium is home to the giant pacific octopus, and it’s one of the creatures that have to be on your list.

Since the pandemic of 2020 began, the Cleveland aquarium has also offered virtual shark encounters and other explorations, so it’s essential to see what events they have going on currently.

Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Address 2000 Sycamore St, Cleveland, OH 44113
Animal to See Giant Pacific Octopus
Known For Shark Seatube: 230,000 gallon tank with a 175-foot acrylic shark tunnel
close up of an octopus
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is home to the Shark Seatube and the Giant Pacific Octopus.

Experiences You Won’t Want to Forget

There are seven gallery areas, and these include:

  • Ohio Lakes & Rivers
  • Asia & Indonesia Gallery
  • Tropical Forest
  • Industry & Housing
  • Giant Pacific Octopus
  • Coastal Boardwalk
  • Tropical Reef

This doesn’t even dig into the aquarium’s main attraction, which is its Shark Seatube, a 230,000-gallon tank that includes a shark tunnel. When you enter the attraction, you receive a full-circle view walking through it of sharks and their habitat.

Sharks are the predators of the sea, both vicious and docile; they are known for hunting their prey down and being attracted to blood in the water, yet are calm when not hungry. This is the next best step to swimming with sharks, and you can feel the wonder and majesty of these creatures through this experience

Giant Pacific Octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus
The Giant Pacific Octopus lives in freezing waters and is smart enough to recognize people.

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium can boast its giant pacific octopus as its main attraction. At up to 165 lbs, this octopus truly matches its moniker of giant, and it is one of the most intelligent aquatic animals.

When looking at this great beast, you cross beneath an arch to the central aquarium area. This arch is, in fact, part of the tank for the giant pacific octopus. They live in freezing temperatures, surviving in water we could barely even dip a toe in.

If you happened to frequent this exhibit, there is a chance this octopus could recognize you; that’s how smart it is.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Aquariums Near Cleveland - Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Picture CreditScott Cornell/Shutterstock.com

The next closest aquarium to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is the one located in the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. This one is not solely focused on marine life but has plenty for visitors to explore.

This zoo is well known for having its own conservation areas, including Adventure Cove (which hopes to house a resident sea lion eventually) and Manatee Coast, which we will explore further.

Conservation is when we protect our earth’s resources and animals, including but not limited to assisting in the rehabilitation of endangered or even local species.

Discovery Reef is an aquarium that houses one of the most extensive live coral reef exhibits in the United States. These are the “rainforests of the ocean” and are necessary for sea life to live and thrive for years to come. Coral reef conversation is a hot topic currently.

Slowest animals in North America
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium houses a rehabilitation center for manatees called Manatee Coast.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Address 4850W Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065
Animal to See Manatees and their Rehabilitation Area
Known For One of the largest live coral exhibits

Adventure Cove

Are Sharks Mammals
Adventure Cove will one day hopefully be home to its own animal to rehabilitate.

Picture CreditDaniel Avram/Shutterstock.com

Adventure Cove is an area literate with territory familiar to sea lions and teaches people all about the lives of such animals and others local to that habitat. It is fully immersive and involves visitors in the experience.

This area pushes to highlight the resources and involvement of the zoo in conservation efforts for sea lions and other wildlife. Eventually, the Columbus Zoo plans to provide a safe home and rehabilitation area for a sea lion or different marine life within the zoo. The right fit just hasn’t come along yet.

There are also a plethora of family-friendly rides to enhance the visit to this zoo. There are fourteen attractions, from the Sea Dragon to the Sugar Glider, from the Falcon Fall to the Tidal Twists. These rides provide plenty of fun and ways to keep cool and entertained all at once.

Manatee Coast

Manatee Coast is one of only two places outside of Florida to house the Florida manatee.

Picture CreditChris Muenzer/Creative Commons

Manatees are often referred to as sea cows or even the original mermaids. They are large, bovine-looking mammals who graze along the waters and are sweet and weigh around 900 pounds.

The Manatee Coast is a fantastic example of the conservation efforts put forth by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. It provides a home to not only manatees, which are an endangered species, but also stingrays, sharks, garden eels, and different fish or waterfowl.

This is important because manatees like the Florida manatee have had mass die-offs in recent years due to starvation. The zoo is a non-profit that contributes funds to rehabilitation and more for the Florida manatee.

Manatee Cove is one of only two places where the Florida manatee is kept outside of Florida, so its efforts genuinely do assist in retaining this exquisite sea creature.

Discovery Reef

Aquariums Near Cleveland - Coral Reef
Coral Discovery Reef houses one of the United States’ largest living coral reefs.

Picture CreditV_E/Shutterstock.com

This saltwater aquarium is an 88,000-gallon tank that takes on various occupants, including all sorts of marine life. You can find sharks, seahorses, fish, and one of the largest coral reef exhibits in the United States.

Live coral reef exhibits of this size are not as common as one would suppose, though much of the coral is synthetic. Synthetic coral is made up of a nanomaterial that helps clean oceans by providing some of the benefits of living coral.

Whether you live in Ohio or are just visiting, if you love learning about sea life, then these aquariums are essential to your experience.

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