If you’re looking for the perfect family trip, one of the best spots in Northeast Ohio is the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. A trip to an aquarium is always a fun time because there’s so much to see, so much to do, and so much to learn about life in the sea.
At the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, you can see and learn about freshwater and ocean wildlife, engage with some hands-on exhibits, and see a whole host of colorful and interesting creatures!
History of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is located in the historic FirstEnergy Powerhouse on the banks of the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland. The building has been standing since 1892, and it’s well known for its stylish windows and Romanesque architecture.
The historic building closed in 1920 as the need for it declined, and it was then revitalized in the 1990s and 2000s as a spot for Cleveland restaurants, retail shops, and even comedy clubs.
The aquarium opened to the public in 2012 and is housed on the first floor of the building. In a reimagined space that used to house coal chutes and chimneys, the aquarium offers incredible entertainment and a message of conservation.
What You Will See at the Aquarium
At the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, there’s something to delight visitors of all ages and incredible exhibits to stoke your sense of wonder. That’s why it’s one of the best things to do in spring through winter in Northeast Ohio. Here’s an overview of each of the aquarium’s exhibits and displays.
Ohio Lakes & Rivers
Believe it or not, there are plenty of interesting creatures in Ohio waters. The whiskery faces of a family of catfish welcome you to this exhibit, which showcases some of the Buckeye State’s native aquatic species.
You’ll encounter native fish and turtle species, like the channel catfish, shovelnose sturgeon, and spotted turtle, but there’s so much more to see and experience.
Amid the splash of waterfalls, the smell of moss, and the sounds of morning doves, you learn about native habits and the efforts being made to conserve them.
It’s hard not to notice the vibrant splashes of color as you step into this exhibit. While glancing over the Amazon, you’ll see piranhas darting in the water, poison dart frogs jumping around, stingrays gliding in the water, and even the majestic curl-crested Aracari.
This little slice of the rainforest is a delight to behold and showcases some truly unique creatures.
Shark Gallery & Sea Tube
The Shark Gallery is one of the coolest and most thrilling exhibits in the whole aquarium. There are 230,000 gallons of water and lots of sharks. What could be better?
The Sea Tube space features three different shark species along with lots of other fish species. You can stroll through the 175-foot underwater sea tube and take lots of great pictures along the way. You’ll feel like you’re scuba diving without ever leaving the floor.
Giant Pacific Octopus
Creatures can live in habitats and conditions of all kinds, and this exhibit showcases those that can survive in frigid water.
The biggest and, arguably the coolest, is the giant pacific octopus. Not only is it big — it can grow anywhere from 35 pounds to more than 100 pounds. It’s also one of the most active and intelligent creatures. Each of its eight arms has more than 250 suckers, which allow it to smell and taste.
Asia and Indonesia
There’s a Zen-like aura hanging over this exhibit and it’s easy to feel relaxed as you keep your eyes peeled for Solomon Island leaf frogs, a green tree python, and a frilled lizard. There’s also Toby, a giant pink gourami who’s always ready to take selfies with visitors.
If you like interactive, hands-on exhibits, you can get up close and personal with lizards and turtles twice a day at the animal encounter station.
There’s a lot of punch packed into this group of exhibits. You’ll delight in seeing all sorts of colorful fish, including the yellow and black rabbitfish and the brown-and-white spotted sweetlip.
Industry and Habitat
If you like exotic fish and sea creatures, this is the spot for you! The star of the show here is the venomous lionfish, which is nonetheless colorful with its long pectoral fins and red and white zebra-patterned stripes.
You can see other fish from places like Indonesia and Fiji too. As you keep a sharp eye, you’ll learn about the history of the Powerhouse building and its transformation over the years.
There’s nothing quite as relaxing as strolling down a boardwalk during the day. The Coastal Boardwalk exhibit combines a fan-favorite touch exhibit with the chill feeling of being on a boardwalk.
The touch exhibit is an 11,000-gallon touch pool where you can interact with stingrays. The other part of the exhibit is a pool full of cleaner shrimp. There are sea horses, jellyfish, and more as well.
Other Activities at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Visiting the Greater Cleveland Aquarium in person can be an unforgettable experience, but it has more to offer. If you’re looking for fun and engaging activities beyond the walls of the Powerhouse building, the aquarium offers several virtual programs via Zoom.
Afterhours Virtual Animal Trivia
One of the most popular activities is Afterhours Virtual Animal Trivia. It involves taking a virtual half tour or a virtual full tour of the aquarium led by an aquarium educator. Then, you get to answer trivia questions about the exhibits.
Virtual Family Programs
You can also visit the aquarium from the comfort of your own home. Choose from a variety of topics, see live views of the animals, and have a question-and-answer session with an aquarium team member. Some of the topics include:
- Shark Exhibit Encounter — Hear how aquarium members care for all the species in this unique exhibit, how all these fish fit in the food chain, and how different species adapt to the environment.
- Freshwater Exhibits Encounter — Hear all about animals that are native to Ohio, Asia, Indonesia, and other places while watching catfish, birds, turtles, gar, and more.
- Stingray and Coastal Exhibits Encounter — See stingrays grace your screen, and learn about their fascinating lives. Tour the Coastal Boardwalk too, and see jellyfish, the giant Pacific octopus, sea horses, and more.
Greater Cleveland Aquarium Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the Greater Cleveland Aquarium?
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is located on the first floor of the FirstEnergy Powerhouse on the West Bank of the Flats.
When is the Greater Cleveland Aquarium open?
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Sunday with the last entry time an hour before closing. Tickets are timed for arrival but not the length of the visit. The average visit lasts between 45 and 90 minutes.
How much do Greater Cleveland Aquarium admission tickets cost?
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium offers ticket prices for children aged 2-12 and for adults aged 13 and up. Annual passes are also available.
Where can I park at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium?
There’s a big parking lot in front of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium that has plenty of space for parking. Plus, nearby street parking is also available.
Are there food options available at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium?
There are currently no on-site food options available at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. But, there are some outdoor tables available for picnics and many nearby dining options just a short drive from the aquarium.
Visit the Greater Cleveland Aquarium Today!
There has never been a better time to visit the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. You can discover the wonders of the lakes and seas while seeing fascinating creatures up close. Along with viewing awesome creatures like sharks and octopi, you can touch stingrays and cleaner shrimp with your bare hands.
In addition to marveling at the excellent exhibits, you can learn about the Greater Cleveland Aquarium’s efforts to protect wildlife, cut down on plastic pollution, and preserve freshwater. So, head to the aquarium to see the wonders of the sea for yourself. It’s a great trip for the whole family!