One of our favorite attractions at Mall of America© is SEA LIFE™ Minnesota Aquarium. Billed as the largest underwater aquarium in the world, I can vouch that the Ocean Tunnel shark tunnel is way better than any SeaWorld Shark Encounter we have seen! This aquarium boasts over 10,000 sea creatures. Explore a disco-like jellyfish exhibit, see seahorses up close and personal, 2 tide pools -one with creatures you can touch, a stingray pool with viewing bubbles that make you feel like you are in the tank with them, and of course – sharks!
Since SEA LIFE™ has taken over, the shark tunnel has been reinvented to resemble Atlantis (Ocean Tunnel – Atlantis Temple) complete with sunken sculptures of King Neptune himself! Swimming overhead you will see a huge variety of ocean animals – tiger sharks, black-tip reef sharks, white-tip ocean sharks, brown sandbar sharks, sea turtles, red drum, jack, guitarfish, sawfish, and grouper. The Ocean Tunnel is arguably the main attraction here. You can do birthday parties, or other group events here – including a sleepover!
Further down the Ocean Tunnel view Amazon fish like the black pacu, cichlid (like giant goldfish with a huge bump on the noggin) – sometimes you can see cichlid parents protecting their tiny babies!, spotted river ray, a huge alligator gar and other Amazon river fish. After that you can view lake fish – most are species native to Minnesota – like the walleye (MN state fish), the shark-looking sturgeon, an American paddlefish (my son just calls it the weird-nose-guy), northern pike (we just call them northerns), crappie (pronounced ‘croppy’) and lots of painted turtles!
In the Seahorse Kingdom you get to witness the lifecycle of the dwarf seahorse (less than 2 inches long!) and view the largest of the seahorses – the pacific seahorse (over 6 inches long) and a variety of cuties in between. My son loves the pipefish (a relative of the seahorse – think of a seahorse that is stretched out flat on its belly all the time) and the sea urchin that share some aquarium space with the seahorses.
If your child is a Nemo fan, don’t miss the Jellyfish Discovery! Huge columns of jellyfish illuminate the dark, mirrored room in ever-changing colors. It’s like a disco party under the sea!! Nemo fans will also love the Coral Caves where they can see all their favorite characters in real life: Nemo, Dory, Bloat, Bubbles, and more.
As you explore the aquarium, keep an eye on the walls for interesting fish facts on the creatures you are visiting. Painted all around are good educational bits of trivia that delight my future marine biologist. For more educational fun, you can follow a quiz trail throughout the attraction with scratch-off answers. Completion of the quiz trail gets you a little prize at the end. On the our last visit, the prize was a discount at the nearby arcade. Too bad it’s not a discount at the SEA LIFE™ gift shop! That place is filled with ocean-themed toys and goodies that are hard to resist!!
The most recent upgrade to the attraction is the Mysteries of the Rainforest. Here you can view piranha, cayman (small relatives of gators), poison dart frogs, and other rainforest creatures in a safe setting while learning how to protect the rainforest for future generations. By encouraging kids to learn about and love the animals around us, we are helping to grow a sense of ecological responsibility to help protect their habitats.
Visit SEA LIFE™ Minnesota Aquarium from 9:30 am – 8:00 pm most days year-round at Mall of America© near the East Entrance. Admission prices are $19.99 for adults, $15.99 for kids 3-12, and free for kids 2 and under. Tickets can be as low as $9.99 if you order online or through other discount channels. Otherwise, if you plan to visit at least 3 times during your visit, consider buying an annual family pass. It could save you money.
Call ahead for special events like Swim With The Sharks, Sleep With the Sharks or to reserve a behind-the-scenes tour: 952-853-0612
Swim With The Sharks
Named “The World’s Best Shark Encounter” by Discovery’s travelchannel.com and “the best shark exhibit on the planet” by Animal Planet, SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium sharks can be viewed from a 300-foot glass underground tunnel.
SCUBA certified divers can swim with the sharks at SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium. For more information, visit www.visitsealife.com/minnesota or call 952-853-0612.
We love visiting SEA LIFE and make good use out of our family membership. In fact, for us, no trip to the Mall is complete without walking through!
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If you have visited SEA LIFE™ at Mall of America© or any other location, tell us about it in the comments below!!
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James @ Custom Fish Tanks says
Yup, their underwater aquarium is their best tourist attraction in the area. You just can’t count the number of different fish and marine life inside it. It’s truly amazing to be right there with the fish. Everyone should come and visit if they’re in the city.