The 2 Best Aquariums in Vermont (Two More Nearby)

Written by Jude Speegle
Published: May 29, 2022
Image Credit NDAB Creativity/Shutterstock.com
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Vermont is known as the Green Mountain State because it is simply covered in forests. That isn’t the only ecosystem to explore in Vermont, though. It has many rivers and more than 800 lakes. This leaves a whole realm of underwater life to study in the two top aquariums in the state.

Though Vermont is a landlocked state, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to learn about marine life, which is why there are two aquariums in it.

  • ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
  • Montshire Museum of Science

Not a large state, Vermont has some aquariums to be found in the neighboring states of New York and New Hampshire. These aquariums will also be looked at within this article.

  • VIA Aquarium
  • Living Shores Aquarium

Luckily, being in such close quarters, it’s not unlikely that one could drive out of state to check out one of these other aquariums. Now let’s look at the ones right here in Vermont.

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

Quechee State Park
ECHO stands for Ecology, Culture, History and Opportunities.

Kevin Kipper/Shutterstock.com

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
Address 1 College St, Burlington, VT 05401
Animal to SeeLocal Fish
Known ForShipwreck Recreation

ECHO, or the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, has a mission statement to “ inspire and engage families in the joy of scientific discovery, wonder of nature, and care of Lake Champlain.”

This means their primary purpose is to facilitate research and excitement over the science and residents of Lake Champlain. By residents, we mean the marine life to be found within the waters.

It is known for providing activities for the community and engaging families. Education is vital in ECHO, mainly so that people in the area learn to treat the lake and its inhabitants correctly. ECHO stands for Ecology, Culture, History, and Opportunities.

The exhibits include:

  • Into the Lake- There is a life-sized recreation of a shipwreck for visitors to examine. It is named General Butler, and it sank immediately after its release in 1876. This is one of around 300 shipwrecks known to be underneath the water of Lake Champlain. It is set up around the Lake Champlain Aquatic display, which displays the fish and other animals surrounding the shipwreck and real life, even as you climb through it.
  • Land of Opportunity- The Lake Champlain Basin is comprised of the lake up into the tree-coated mountains. This exhibit shows how it is possible to utilize all the natural resources.
  • Indigenous Expressions- This exhibit is meant to showcase the relationship between Indigenous people and the landscape they inhabited.
  • Energy Commons- This section is to show how they have worked with energy and electricity over the years and how it affects the land

No matter what you’re looking for, the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain has a little bit of everything.

Montshire Museum of Science

Maidstone Lake, Vermont
The Montshire Museum of Science has more than 100 acres of land to its name peppered with nature trails.

NEKVT/Shutterstock.com

Montshire Museum of Science
Address 1 Montshire Rd, Norwich, VT 05055
Animal to SeePainted Turtles
Known ForHuge nature trails on over 100 acres of land

The Montshire Museum of Science has nature trails to follow if you’re an adventurer at heart. It also has an array of exhibits and displays meant to educate and entertain in the building.

There are 150 exhibits in the museum, so we will not list them all, but they also have an aquarium to visit. The aquarium itself holds life that can be found in the local waters of Vermont.

See fish, frogs, and turtles native to the New England region. Each exhibit is representative of a different freshwater habitat. From toads to turtles, crayfish to trout, view native species close-up.

Some of those aquarium exhibits are:

  • A tank with a brook with fast, cold temperature water and the animals that thrive in it.
  • A tank for painted turtles, which are a must-see when you visit.
  • A tank made for toads and frogs and many shallow-water fish.
  • Snapping turtles, including baby snapping turtles that have only recently hatched.
  • A tank to watch schools of fish swimming around in the magnetic way they do.
  • A tank with warm water that is slow-moving to view the fish and marine life that live in that type of environment.

All sorts of exhibits and hands-on experiences are available at the Monsthire Museum of Science, so there’s much to do to keep the whole family occupied. This is a great place to stop in with children to see science and nature up close and personal.

Aquariums in the Neighboring States

Beyond the borders of Vermont, you can find aquariums in neighboring states. For example, the VIA Aquarium in Schenectady is about an hour away from the border of southwestern Vermont. Likewise, the Living Shores Aquarium in New Hampshire is about a two hour drive from Montpelier.

VIA Aquarium

Schenectady New York
The VIA Aquarium is located in Schenectady, New York.

VIA Aquarium
Address 93 W Campbell Rd, Schenectady, NY 12306
Animal to SeeSharks
Known ForAnimatronic Dinosaur

Vermont itself only has two current aquariums, so we’re going to look at the VIA Aquarium not too far away in Schenectady, New York.

The VIA Aquarium is a large aquarium devoted to entertainment and education alike. There are all sorts of shows and exhibits to get excited for. They are also hugely present in conservation efforts and local community outreach. 

They have sharks, stingrays, and more to explore. There is also a Dino Alley where you can see an animatronic dinosaur!

Living Shores Aquarium

White Spotted Bamboo Shark
The Living Shores Aquarium has a touch tank with bamboo sharks.

Living Shores Aquarium
Address 850 Pinkham Notch Road, NH-16, Glen, NH 03838
Animal to SeeWhite-Spotted Bamboo Sharks
Known ForNewest aquarium in the region

With more than 32,000 square feet, the Living Shores Aquarium in Glen, New Hampshire, is a brilliant idea to visit. From sea otters to stingrays, there’s more to see here than at first meets the eye.

This aquarium showcases the rich underwater history of New England. This includes lakes, rivers, and the coastline, of course. There is a shark touch pool, tropical walkthrough aviary, and an exhibit specifically for larger animals of New England.

The touch tank for the white-spotted bamboo sharks is essential to answer that age-old question: are sharks rough or smooth?

There are plenty of activities to keep one busy at the Living Shores Aquarium and exhibits and animals to capture the eyes. This aquarium is one of the best in the area.

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About the Author

Jude is a writer both by trade and by heart. They have been writing since a very young age and have eight years of professional writing experience. Passionate about animals, Jude has three birds and three cats.