Seattle Travel

Seattle Aquarium Guide

The Seattle Aquarium is a great diversion – especially for families on a rainy day. The aquarium is right on the waterfront and actually is part of the waterway. It’s newly renovated with a ton of great exhibits to keep your kids amused. Seattle’s Aquarium focuses on the fish life of Puget Sound. The exhibits include a variety of fish, animals, and birds that live near the waterfront. The exhibits are presented in a simulated grotto that resembles a sea cave. A mountain display simulates a cascading stream from Puget Sound to the creek’s headwaters. There is also a salmon hatchery, fish ladder, and a glass roofed aquarium where you can see fish above. Favorite attractions include sea lions and sea otters.

Hours: 9:30am-5pm daily. Exhibits close at 6pm. Tip: There are very few people in the aquarium from 5pm-6pm — it’s a great time to stay until the closing. Open on ALL holidays, but limited hours during holidays.

Prices: $15 per adult / $10 for Youth ages 4-12 / Kids 3 and under are free. Prices are as of Summer 2008.

Some of the major areas you should see at the aquarium and our recommendations are below:

  • When you enter the aquarium – the Window on Washington Waters is a massive floor-to-ceiling aquarium with tons of fish. It’s always crowded with folks stunned with the view of fish right up on entry to the aquarium. SeattleTravel TIP: The scuba divers speak to audiences from inside the aquarium and feed the fish at scheduled times daily – these are one of the aquarium’s coolest features you should definitely plan on.

  • In the hallway – just after the huge aquarium is a fish tank that simulates the crashing waves of the ocean. It’s a long and narrow tank but a very cool and exciting sight for kids to see how violent the ocean and Puget Sound can be. This area is often crowded however – we wouldn’t recommend lingering too long. SeattleTravel TIP – The gift shop is right after this exhibit. Don’t be sucked in and waste time until you’ve enjoyed the aquarium. Prepare yourself for the “come on” and prepare your kids accordingly.

  • The next room is the really focus of the aquarium – it’s one large room with many things to do.

    • Touch Pool for Starfish – This is one of the best things in the entire aquarium – you can touch star fish and even feed anemone. Kids love this – a don’t miss exhibit.

    • Octopus in a Tank – This speaks for itself.

    • Jelly Fish over your head – a curved aquarium where jelly fish swim over your head.

    • Aquarium Assistants offer a number of booths to provide detailed information for visitors – don’t be shy! Take advantage of their willingness to help out and answer questions.

    • SeattleTravel TIP – There is a very convenient restroom right at the end of this room. There is also a children’s play area and childrens books you can read to your kids.

  • After the large room – is a narrow winding channel of the standard type of aquariums and brightly colored smaller fish you would see at an aquarium. It’s a great area with beautiful and colorful fish. SeattleTravel TIP – People are often obsessed with taking photos in this dark area. Unless you have a good camera and know what you are doing – you’re wasting your time taking dark photos that are unlikely to be usable. Flash photography is specifically not allowed here as it disturbs the fragile fish. Buy some postcards in the gift shop and enjoy the exhibit instead.

  • The “indoor / outdoor” open air areas allow you to see seals and sea otters swim in Puget Sound’s natural waters. SeattleTravel TIP – On nice days – walk out on the dock to enjoy the fresh air; beautiful views; and see the animals in a less crowded environment.

  • Children can create crayon rubbings to make drawings of ocean animals and take photos pretending to be various sea creatures. Bring your camera!

  • There is a salmon ladder – just like a stream and also unique and colorful Puffin birds.

Our group had a great time viewing the swimming sea otters and playful sea lions. The Seattle Aquarium was located very close to our hotel in downtown Seattle and we had a fun walk down to the waterfront. The aquarium is built on a pier over the water with many exhibits for kids. Our favorite section was the octopus and jelly fish in a tank that you could see close up. The octopus was gigantic!


A relaxing section of the Seattle Aquarium is the “tank” where you can sit and watch many different kinds of fish and sea creatures swim by. The dark area is peaceful and relaxing.

Seattle Aquarium Detailed Map:

Seattle Aquarium Map Printable PDF

Seattle Aquarium Official Site

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