The Seattle Aquarium isn’t world class, but it’s a well done local aquarium that will keep the family entertained for several hours.
The easiest way to walk here from downtown is to take the elevator at the Pike Place Market.
Exhibits added in 2007
In the large entrance hall, pause to look through the massive Window on Washington Waters. Salmon, rockfish, and colorful anemones live amid kelp in this 120,000-gallon tank.
The Crashing Waves exhibit in the corridor recreates conditions on the Washington coast. Watch how waves rolling through the 40-foot-long tank affect fish and invertebrates living below the waterline.
The main room has tidepools of anemones, starfish and sea urchins that you’re welcome to touch. These colorful creatures inhabit the state’s coastlines. Young guides stand by to answer your questions.
Take a stroll through the glowing Ring of Life, which circulates an endless stream of translucent Moon Jellies. The nearby octopus tank had two residents the last time I visited.
In the back of the building, tropical fish and sharks roam the 25,000-gallon Pacific Coral Reef exhibit. Other tanks feature smaller fish and live coral. The last room houses ocean oddities like pinecone fish, cowfish, and pot-bellied seahorses.
Don’t let the rain keep you indoors. Most outdoor exhibits are covered, beginning with Northwest shorebirds.
Make your way past tanks of Puget Sound fish to the largest exhibit, the 400,000-gallon underwater dome. Silver salmon flash in the sunlight, sturgeon prowl the bottom, and ling cod and rockfish lurk in underwater reefs. Sharks circle constantly, surveying all. Divers feed the fish every afternoon.
Continue through the dome to see the highly entertaining sea otters. The Seattle Aquarium was first in the world to host the live birth of a sea otter.
Watch harbor seals and fur seals swimming, either from above the waterline or below it through glass.
Gift shop and cafe
To re-enter the main building of the aquarium, pass through the gift shop, which sells a wide assortment of marine-inspired books, toys, and art.
Upstairs, above the lobby, the bright and spacious Aquarium Cafe serves soup, salad, sandwiches, and coffee. Its grill features sustainable seafood.
Take advantage of the free shows included with your aquarium ticket. Check the time schedule for diver shows, feedings, and nature talks.
Discount for groups of 20 that register in advance.
Get unlimited visits with an $80 membership. Families are $95, or $120 with a bonus guest pass.
Seattle CityPASS gives you half-price tickets to six attractions, including the Seattle Aquarium.
Save on parking
Street meters are the cheapest option, and they’re free on Sundays. Save $1 at the Republic Garage across the street if you ask the aquarium’s customer service desk to stamp your parking ticket. Park before 10:30 a.m. weekdays for the best deal.
South is to your left as you face the water.
The walk south from the aquarium to the ferry terminal is the best part of the Seattle waterfront.
Long, vacant stretches make the walk north of the aquarium less interesting. Bus 99 travels southbound.
Anthony’s at Pier 66 has the best food on the waterfront, with three price levels (restaurant, diner, and fish bar). It’s a seven-minute walk from the Seattle Aquarium (0.7 mile).
Olympic Sculpture Park near Pier 70 is free and open daily, dawn to dusk. Head uphill to see 20 large whimsical sculptures in the garden. The pavilion (closed Mondays) has a gift shop, restrooms, and summer-only cafe. It’s a 20-minute walk from the Seattle Aquarium (1 mile).
Also at Pier 70 is a pleasant walkway at Myrtle Edwards Park that runs along Puget Sound for 1.25 miles with views of the Olympic Mountains.