A visit to South Carolina Aquarium is more than just a meet-and-greet with local sea life. The 385,000-gallon (1,500-cubic-meter) aquarium has 60 thematic and interactive exhibits that are as fascinating for adults as they are fun for kids. The aquarium is even impressive from the outside, thanks to its location on the Charleston Harbor.
The South Carolina Aquarium gives you plenty to see. The sleek and modern space might be small, but it is home to more than 10,000 plants and animals divvied up among 60 exhibits. Favorites include a massive Great Ocean Tank, a state-of-the-art environmental learning center, a Loggerhead Sea Turtle Rescue Program, and a Touch Tank with invertebrates, such as stingrays and horseshoe crabs. The aquarium specifically focuses on regional wildlife by featuring exhibits planned around five parts of the Appalachian Watershed: the Mountains, the Piedmont, the Coastal Plain, the Coast, and the Ocean. Within these exhibits, visitors can find river otters, a very rare albino alligator (a popular favorite), sharks, and the endangered loggerhead sea turtle.
Visitors can tour the aquarium independently or with a small-group excursion. View the aquarium from a different perspective on a sailing or sunset cruise on Charleston Harbor.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The aquarium is popular among families with kids.
- Disabled parking is available; call the aquarium to learn more about accessibility.
- There is a nursing room and a changing table on the first floor.
- Ticket lines get long, so it’s best to book your ticket in advance.
How to Get There
Visitors staying downtown can easily take the free CARTA DASH Trolley from most stops downtown straight to the aquarium. If visiting from outside of downtown, the easiest way to get to the aquarium is to drive. A city-operated parking garage and metered street parking are available.
When to Get There
The aquarium is open daily during seasonal hours, but it is quietest weekdays before 11am or after 2pm. Be sure to check their calendar for an up-to-date look at special events, including 21 and up after-hours mixers, dance and gymnastics programs, and animal encounters.
In addition to the South Carolina Aquarium, the Charleston Harbor is a great jumping-off point for other Charleston water activities. Look for sunset cruises, harbor tours, and more to round out your day.