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In Charleston, South Carolina, North America’s Deepest Aquarium Houses Sharks and Turtles

Insider Guides
by Morgane Croissant Aug 15, 2023

The South Carolina Aquarium, commonly referred to as the Charleston Aquarium because of its location, has the deepest aquarium in North America: the Great Ocean Tank. In this 385,000-gallon tank that is so tall it stretches from the first to the third floor, you’ll see sharks, a 220-pound loggerhead sea turtle, and many more fish, each more intriguing and beautiful than the next. But the aquarium is home to all sorts of animals beyond fish: a rehabilitated bald eagle named Liberty, a large pink spoonbill named Pearl, and adorable river otters. Need another reason for visiting? The aquarium hosts adult-only night visits where you can wonder the galleries with a canapé on one hand and glass of wine in the other.

Where is the South Carolina Aquarium?

The South Carolina Aquarium is located in the town of Charleston, South Carolina. More specifically, the aquarium is situated in downtown Charleston, in Liberty Square, a national park site on the shores of the Cooper River.

What are the hours of the South Carolina Aquarium?

The aquarium is open every day, from 9 AM to 5 PM. On December 24, it is open from 9 AM to 1 PM. The aquarium is closed on Thanksgiving Day and on Christmas Day (December 25).

The aquarium also offers after-hours events for adults only.

How long does it take to go through the South Carolina Aquarium?

There is a lot to see and experience at the aquarium, so budget at least 1.5 hours for your visit. That said, if you’re not rushed at all, considered spending half a day at the aquarium. There’s a café (The Sea Turtle café) open from 11 AM to 3 PM, or you can bring your own snacks and water, making it easy to spend uninterrupted quality time at the aquarium. Also, your ticket is valid for the entire day, so you can go in and out if you need a break.

How much does it cost to get into the South Carolina Aquarium?

Admission fees fluctuates according to demand/potential demand and starts at $28.95 for adults. The best way to get the cheapest price is to take a good look at the aquarium’s calendar well ahead of your visit and book your tickets for the price and time that suits you best.

Does the South Carolina Aquarium offer any discount?

Children between the ages of three and 12 pay less than adults (admission for them start at $23.15), and children under the age of three enter for free. There are no senior or military discounts offered at the aquarium.

Parking at the South Carolina Aquarium

You can park in the Aquarium Garage, the parking garage located on Calhoun Street (24 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401) just three minutes away on foot. The parking garage charges $1 every 30 minutes and a maximum of $18 per day. You can also opt to park along Washington Street and Concord Street, but you’ll need to make sure to put enough money in the meter for the length of your visit.

How many animals are the in South Carolina Aquarium?

@southcarolinaaquarium It’s mighty finteresting how different fish can be! #aquarium #southcarolinaaquarium #sargassum #sargassumfish #gill ♬ Beautiful Paradise – Aga Alamsyah

There are over 5,000 animals at the aquarium, including American alligators, a bald eagle named Liberty, a barn owl named Pippen, a skunk named Sassy, a variety of sea turtles and snakes, tree frogs, river otters, and more.

Are there penguins at the South Carolina Aquarium?

@southcarolinaaquarium Watchin’ in slow motion 🎶 #spoonbill #bird #topgun #aquarium ♬ Take My Breath Away (Love Theme from “Top Gun”) – Berlin

While there have been penguins at the aquarium in the past, this is not the case any longer. That said, there are other beautiful birds: a bald eagle, a barn owl, an American kestrel, roseate spoonbills, and more.

Is there a webcam at the South Carolina Aquarium?

There is a webcam looking from the aquarium towards the Cooper River. You can see the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, the ferries heading to and from the Fort Sumter National Monument, and other boat traffic on the river.

Can I spend New Year’s Eve at the South Carolina Aquarium?

While there was a New Year’s Eve event at the South Carolina Aquarium on December 31, 2022, the event is not currently mentioned on the Aquarium’s website for 2023. Keep an eye on their events calendar, however. In 2022, New Year’s Eve at the aquarium was a family-friendly event with a DJ and face painting.

The Aquarium Aglow evening event, however, will take place during the 2023 holiday season. There will be ten of thousands of lights as well as holiday-themed installations and displays.

Traveling to Charleston? Check out Matador’s accommodations guides to the city:

The best hotels near the South Carolina Aquarium

if you’re looking into renting an Airbnb rather than a hotel when in Charleston, check out Matador’s selection of 15 Airbnbs in Charleston to experience true southern charm.

We hope you love the hotels we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

Zero George Street

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Photo: Expedia
Photo: Expedia
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The Zero George Street hotel is a luxury boutique property located just nine minutes on foot from the aquarium. The hotel consists of 19th-century buildings that have been fully renovated to become a charming and sophisticated retreat in the heart of the city. The rooms, suites, and residences are all beautifully decorated in muted colors and high-quality, comfortable furniture, creating a cozy, yet chic atmosphere that’s just to make guests feel instantly at home. There’s a lovely inner courtyard where you can relax, as well as a highly praised restaurant-bar on site for all your fine cuisine needs. The hotel organizes cooking classes, wine tastings, and floral design classes for guests who want to combine a lovely vacation with a learning experience.

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The Dewberry Charleston

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The Dewberry Charleston is a five-star hotel located less than 15 minutes on foot from the aquarium. The 154 guests rooms at this property are tastefully decorated and furnished with carefully selected high-quality pieces. But the luxury goes beyond the furnishings: There’s a spa where you can book customized body and facial treatments, a fitness center, a chic restaurant, and a cocktail bar located on the eighth floor and offering beautiful views.

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The Pinch Hotel

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The Pinch Hotel is a four-star luxury hotel located in Charleston’s shopping area, a little more than 15 minutes away from the aquarium on foot. With patterned wallpaper, ratan furniture, bouclé armchairs, and velvet textiles, this property is at the top of all the interior decoration trends, making the space feel very luxurious and contemporary but also home-like. The fact that there are only 24 guests rooms adds to the feeling of homeliness and intimacy. Every room and suite has its own kitchen and in-room washer and dryer, and you can book your accommodation on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. There’s a spa on site and you can have access to the 24-hour gym next door. The best part is the free breakfast consisting of freshly baked items from a local bakery.

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