The Great Lakes Aquarium is located on Duluth, Minnesota’s waterfront nestled along the shipping harbor of Lake Superior.
One cannot help but notice this 3-story brightly-colored structure mixed among the other must-see attractions in Duluth, and some may wonder, “Is a visit to the Great Lakes Aquarium worth it?”
Let’s take a look at 7 reasons to visit Duluth’s Great Lakes Aquarium as well as review tips that will help you get the most from your visit.
1. The Great Lakes Aquarium is family-friendly.
Along with the many free things to do in Duluth, there are a few paid attractions that are definitely worth a visit!
In fact, one of the main reasons that I recommend a visit to Duluth’s Great Lakes Aquarium despite the price tag is that it is entirely family-friendly and suited for visitors all ages.
Literally anyone and everyone will have a good time here!
With its pristine tanks and abundant opportunities to engage with water and wildlife, the young and old alike will enjoy the touch tanks, re-created habitats, and live animal observations.
Groups of people visit the aquarium as friends, family, schools, professional organizations, clubs, and for special events.
Additional planning tip: The Great Lakes Aquarium is COVID-friendly too!
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several new policies and procedures in place at Great Lakes Aquarium to safeguard the experience for staff and guests.
All aquarium staff and visitors 3 & up must wear a face covering while in the facility.
In addition, visitors must walk through the aquarium on a predetermined one-way path and may not congregate at exhibits (indicated by floor signs like the one above).
And last, Great Lakes Aquarium has temporarily closed high-touch displays and suspended interpretive programs for guest and staff safety.
*Ticket prices have been reduced to reflect these changes and are currently $15.00 for adults and $12.00 for kids ages 3-17. Children 2 & under are free.
2. The aquarium is conveniently located adjacent to Duluth’s Canal Park.
The majority of activities in any Duluth itinerary are centered around exploring Lake Superior and Canal Park.
Located within walking distance from the aquarium, Canal Park is the conversion of an old warehouse district into a variety of restaurants, shops, art galleries, activities, and lakeside hotels.
While strolling through Canal Park, the highlight is watching ships from around the world entering the harbor and traveling beneath Duluth’s famous aerial lift bridge.
Due to its location adjacent to Canal Park, visitors to Great Lakes Aquarium get a phenomenal view of the Aerial Lift Bridge, as well as an up-close look at the cargo ships that pass by.
Visitors delight in being able to experience so many activities within one central area of this popular Midwest tourist destination.
3. Great Lakes Aquarium is both fun and educational!
Not only do the animals and exhibits at the Great Lakes Aquarium provide fun and enjoyment, but they are entirely educational as well.
Each exhibit at the aquarium includes valuable information to learn about wildlife, the nature of science, and animal care.
From bright and beatiful signs and displays to hands-on learning experiences, we left the aquarium having learned so much about the animals that call it home.
Great Lakes Aquarium offers Toddler Tuesdays, Nature Play Programs, Summer Day Camps, and school field trip opportunities to broaden their educational outreach.
4. There are over 15 amazing exhibits at Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth.
The Duluth aquarium is highly recognizable for its colorful exterior and enormous size that was built to house over 15 re-created animal habitats.
Upon entering, you’re greeted by a floor-to-ceiling water wall and the Merill Lynch Fine Arts Gallery. The 1st-floor exhibits include Otter Cove, Amazing Amazon, Aquatic Invaders, and Isle Royale.
Once riding the escalator (or elevator) to the 2nd floor you’ll find Raptor Ridge, Critter Corner, and the Baptism and St. Louis River exhibits, just to name a few.
We loved the trout tanks, River otters, rehabilitated bald eagles, electric eel, jellyfish, and tide touch pools.
Needless to say, there’s plenty to see and do here!
5. The animals and fish at the Duluth aquarium are loved and well cared for.
Judging by the high prevalence of friendly staff, the clean conditions of the exhibits, and the happy demeanors of the animals – it is easy to see that the Great Lakes Aquarium animals are loved and well cared for.
There’s nothing like going to a public zoo or aquarium and finding submissive animals and less than desirable habitats that have been prepared for them.
I feel like the Great Lakes Aquarium is opposite of that in that the living conditions of the animals are clean, fun, and life-like.
Happy animals make for happy visitors!
6. Kids love the Duluth aquarium touch pools!
When visiting attractions that are centered around animals, there’s nothing better than when visitors have the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with the wildlife.
Not only does the Great Lakes Aquarium have various touch pools, but there is a fantastic water table that is a fully functioning model of the Great Lakes.
Kids are able to splash and play while sailing boats throughout the model Great Lakes waterways.
(Please note, this exhibit is currently closed due to COVID-19.)
7. The Great Lakes Aquarium is open year-round.
When considering your Minnesota bucket list, it’s important to include activities that can provide year-round entertainment – even during cold weather.
After all, from October to April, Duluth, MN temperatures can remain below freezing all day long.
One of the huge perks of the Great Lakes Aquarium is that it is a completely indoor attraction and can be visited rain or shine, hot or cold.
The views of Lake Superior from the aquarium during snowfall are stunning, as are the cool autumn days when the landscape is adorned with beautiful changing colors.
Tips for Visiting Great Lakes Aquarium
- Great Lakes Aquarium hours are from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM daily.
- Parking is available directly in front of the aquarium for $5 a vehicle.
- Bring your camera! The best photo-op is taking a family photo on the observation deck overlooking Lake Superior.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. The floors of the aquarium are cement, so be sure to wear shoes that will offer your feet protection.
- Both strollers and wheelchairs are available for use on a first come first serve basis.
- All areas of the aquarium are accessible for guests that use wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Two elevators are available to move between floors.
- The aquarium is home to a large gift shop with souvenirs and snacks. There is no cafe’ here, however, so plan to bring your own picnic lunch or eat in nearby Canal Park.
Thanks to Visit Duluth and Great Lakes Aquarium for tickets to this awesome attraction! Opinions are my own.
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*
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