The 3 Best Aquariums in Ohio

aquariums in Massachusetts
© NDAB Creativity/

Written by Jude Speegle

Updated: June 29, 2023

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Come to Ohio, the “birthplace of aviation,” and check out the aquariums that are available to the public. Wherever you are in Ohio, there are aquariums within a drivable distance that are educational and great for the whole family. They are:

Ohio borders Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes, and has the Ohio River cutting a swath across the state. When stopping to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you might also want to stop by an aquarium to give yourself a chance to learn all about the state’s marine life. Or maybe you’re a Buckeye fan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a day of the game and aquarium.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

manatee swimming alone

Check out the Florida Manatees at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

©A Cotton Photo/

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Address 4850 W Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065
Animal to SeeFlorida Manatees
Known ForLargest coral reef in the country

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was the first zoo in the city of Columbus and participated in quite a few various conservation efforts. They’ve contributed more than $3.3 million to 70+ projects over the last five years.

The zoo itself is separated into different regions based around the world so that you can see the diversity in which animals live their lives and how integral and varied the ecosystems are. 

When it comes to the aquatic side of things, it’s broken up into the Shores and the aquarium itself.

Discovery Reef

With more than 88,000 gallons within the tanks, Discovery Reef utilizes the area to house saltwater animals. This includes, but is not limited to, seahorses, sharks, fish, and more. It even has one of the most extensive synthetic coral exhibits in the country. This is important because coral reefs have been heavily threatened in recent years.

Manatee Coast

Florida manatees are an endangered species and are particularly difficult to hold outside Florida. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the few places that manages it. There is more to this exhibit than just manatees, though, of course.

With 192,000-gallons of water, this exhibit keeps plenty of animals safe and happy. It holds stingrays, fish, turtles, pelicans, and more. Visit the zoo and explore to see what else it has.

Reptile Habitat

This area also includes the reptile habitat, housing reptiles and amphibians, including turtles, lizards, and snakes. They breed many endangered species in the house to keep them from becoming more threatened.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a full day of fun for the family, with the aquarium set up as its own thrilling adventure. Hundreds of animals make their homes within the tanks and beyond, including polar bears, elephants, zebras, and anything else you can think of. 

This zoo is one of the most popular zoos to visit. So be sure to mark it down as a must-see while in Ohio.

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

close up of an octopus

The intelligent giant Pacific octopus is here to observe at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.


Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Address 2000 Sycamore St, Cleveland, OH 44113
Animal to SeeGiant Pacific Octopus
Known ForState Specific Gallery

If you’ve ever specifically wanted to know about the underwater experiences in the state of Ohio, then the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is the aquarium you’ve been searching for. This aquarium explicitly explores all the interesting aspects of Ohio.

Their galleries include:

  • Ohio Lakes & Rivers – You can learn about how the Ohio lakes and rivers contribute to the ecosystem and what goes on beneath the water.
  • Asia & Indonesia – Explore the unique territories of Asia and Indonesia and what fish and other animals lurk below the surface.
  • Tropical Forest- The Amazon Rain Forest is an integral part of the world, so learn how fish and other creatures help create it.
  • Industry & Habitat – This aquarium section is modeled to look industrious, with street signs pointing the way through.
  • Giant Pacific Octopus – One of the most intelligent animals you can find under the sea, observe the giant Pacific octopus in its natural habitat.
  • Coastal Boardwalk – This gallery is reminiscent of a walk on the beach so that you can see the same animals that populate the shallower waters of the ocean.
  • Tropical Reef – Three tropical exhibits create a gallery that brings to life the warmer sections of the ocean on our planet, letting you catch a glimpse of the animals that make it up.

This aquarium was modeled in a way to keep people entertained from the moment they walk in, wide-eyed and excited. It has retained the energy throughout the years and many renovations, making sure to put the animals first.

Toledo Zoo and Aquarium

At the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium there are African Penguins to wave hello to.

©Mike Korostelev/

Toledo Zoo and Aquarium
Address 2 Hippo Way, Toledo, OH 43609
Animal to SeeAfrican Penguins
Known ForMost diverse collection in the United States

There are more than 3000 animals to view at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, so put your walking shoes on to get ready to adventure forth. 178,000 gallons of water hold these animals, and the aquarium is designed for a maximum fun experience.

The zoo itself participates in local and global conservation efforts to retain the beauty of the life that floods our planet. It also has one of the most diverse collections in the United States, making it a zoo anyone would want to visit.

The largest singular tank in the aquarium is a whopping 90,000 gallons. There are also touch tanks to explore, letting people get to know hermit crabs, sea stars, and more. 

Different exhibits through the zoo also hold animals like harbor seals and polar bears, with huge habitats to keep them feeling happy. There is a Penguin Beach that keeps African penguins waddling around for our amusement and a few duck species. 

This zoo and aquarium mashup also hosts plenty of events within the park to help raise money for the animals it takes care of and many of its conservation efforts. There is always something new to see or do at the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium.

Summary of the 3 Best Aquariums in Ohio

NameSpecial Features
Columbus Zoo and AquariumDiscovery Reef (largest coral reef in the US)
Manatee Coast
Reptile Habitat
Greater Cleveland AquariumGalleries:
Ohio Lakes and Rivers
Tropical Forest
Industry and Habitat
Giant Pacific Octopus
Coastal Boardwalk
Tropical Reef (3-in-1 exhibit)
Toledo Zoo and AquariumMost diverse collection in the US – 3,000 animals in 178,000 gallons of water!

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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.

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