Visit The SC Aquarium — The #1 Best Attraction In Downtown Charleston

The SC Aquarium Is Not Just Any Aquarium…

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Placing a strong focus on education and conservation, the facility regularly hosts exhibits and programs that aim to teach visitors about the importance of protecting marine life and the environment. The SC Aquarium also has an on-site sea turtle hospital that cares for sick and injured sea turtles and works to release them back into the wild.

Visiting the SC Aquarium is not just one of the best things to do in Charleston with kids – it’s an engaging and fun activity for visitors of all ages. Locals may even remark that it’s one of the best places to spend New Year’s Eve in Charleston, as well. Ahead, we’ll share more information about what to see and do at the SC Aquarium, as well as tips for planning your day around a visit.

Sea turtle and fish swim in the SC Aquarium in Charleston

Kids of all ages will love the interactive exhibits at the SC Aquarium.

Who Should Visit The SC Aquarium?

The South Carolina Aquarium is an excellent destination for a wide range of visitors. Families with children will gravitate to the variety of exhibits and activities that are engaging and educational for kids of all ages. From touch tanks and animal encounters to interactive exhibits and 4D movies, there is plenty to keep kids entertained and learning.

Marine life enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to the SC Aquarium, as well. If you're interested in marine life and conservation, the aquarium offers an opportunity to learn about various species and their habitats. The exhibits showcase a range of animals and there are plenty of opportunities to learn about conservation efforts and ocean sustainability.

Tourists – especially those who live far away from the sea – will certainly enjoy a few hours at the SQ Aquarium. Other attractions like the ferry to Fort Sumter and soon-to-open International African American Museum are also within walking distance of the SC Aquarium, so you can easily plan your day within a single area. 

Finally, if you talk to a Charleston local, chances are they’ll tell you that the SC Aquarium is also a great destination for couples on a date night or day date. You can even snap a corny, cute picture at the entrance of you and your partner holding a hologram sea turtle – the perfect souvenir to remember a couple’s trip to Charleston!

SC Aquarium touchtank

High-five a sting ray (or seven!) at one of the SC Aquarium's touchtanks.

What Can You Do At The SC Aquarium?

There are many fun activities for all ages at the SC Aquarium. Plan on spending at least an hour to get the most out of your experience:

  • Check out the animal exhibits: The aquarium has a wide range of exhibits showcasing various marine life, from sea turtles, sharks, and stingrays to jellyfish, eels, and octopuses. There is also a touch tank where visitors can get up close and personal with creatures like horseshoe crabs and hermit crabs.
  • Attend an animal encounter: The aquarium offers animal encounters where visitors can meet and learn about animals such as penguins, otters, and alligators.
  • Watch a 4D movie: The aquarium has a 4D theater that shows short films about marine life with special effects like wind, mist, and vibrations.
  • Participate in behind-the-scenes tours: The aquarium offers tours that take visitors behind the scenes to learn about animal care and feeding, aquarium maintenance, and more.
  • Attend special events: The aquarium hosts various special events throughout the year, such as the Turtle Trek 5K, Shark Week, and lectures by Holland Lifelong Learning.

Overall, the South Carolina Aquarium is an excellent place to learn about marine life and have fun with family and friends.

Aquarium Aglow SC Aquarium Charleston

Check the SC Aquarium's website calendar for seasonal events like Aquarium Aglow.

When Is The Best Time To Go To The SC Aquarium?

The South Carolina Aquarium is open year-round, and the best time to visit depends on your personal preferences and interests. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Crowds: The aquarium can get quite crowded during peak tourist seasons, such as summer and holidays. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the weekdays or off-season.
  • Weather: Charleston has a subtropical climate, which means hot and humid summers and mild winters. If you don't enjoy the heat, consider visiting during the cooler months of October to March. That said, the SC Aquarium is a perfect activity for a rainy day in Charleston.
  • Special events: The aquarium hosts various special events throughout the year, such as holiday celebrations and themed exhibits. The aquarium’s New Year’s Eve celebration is always a memorable occasion. If there is a particular event that you're interested in, plan your visit accordingly.
  • Animal activity: Some animals at the aquarium may be more active or visible during certain times of the day or year. For example, the aquarium's sea turtles are often fed in the morning, while the otters are more active in the afternoon.
SC Aquarium

Snap a selfie with your loved ones on the viewing platform, where you can include the picturesque Ravenel Bridge and Charleston Harbor in the background!

Tips For Visiting The SC Aquarium

A visit to the SC Aquarium in downtown Charleston should definitely be on your Lowcountry bucket list. There are several ways to book tickets:

  • Online: You can purchase tickets in advance through the aquarium's website at Simply visit the website and click on the “Buy Tickets” button, select the date and time of your visit, and choose the type of ticket you need (adult, child, etc.). You can then complete your purchase and receive your tickets via email.
  • Phone: You can also call the aquarium's ticketing office at (843) 577-3474 to purchase tickets over the phone. The office is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
  • In-person: If you prefer to purchase tickets in person, you can do so at the aquarium's ticketing desk on the day of your visit. However, it's important to note that tickets may sell out quickly during peak tourist seasons, so it's recommended to purchase tickets in advance if possible.

It's also worth noting that the aquarium offers discounted tickets for military members, seniors, teachers, and children, as well as annual memberships that provide unlimited access to the aquarium for a year. Parking is available at an hourly rate in the parking deck adjacent to the SC Aquarium. Alternatively, some of the best hotels in Charleston are within comfortable walking distance from the SC Aquarium.

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