7 Best New York Aquariums and Zoos: How to Enjoy the Best Aquarium in NYC

7 Best New York Aquariums and Zoos: How to Enjoy the Best Aquarium in NYC

Discover the enchanting world of aquatic wonders and diverse wildlife in New York City, where aquariums and zoos offer immersive experiences for nature enthusiasts of all ages. From the vibrant marine life at the New York Aquarium to the captivating array of species at the Bronx Zoo, these attractions invite visitors to embark on captivating journeys into the beauty and biodiversity of the animal kingdom.

About the New York Aquariums and Zoos

Embark on a thrilling journey into the fascinating realms of nature by visiting the renowned aquariums and zoos in New York City. A trip to these captivating attractions promises a world of fun, where the wonders of the animal kingdom come to life.

From the vibrant underwater landscapes at the New York Aquarium to the diverse ecosystems represented in the city’s zoos, each visit offers a unique and enriching experience for visitors of all ages. Immerse yourself in the magic of wildlife, encounter exotic species, and witness educational presentations, all within the dynamic backdrop of the city that never sleeps.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or a family seeking an exciting day out, New York’s aquariums and zoos provide a perfect blend of entertainment and education, making each visit a memorable and enriching adventure.

History and Evolution

The history and evolution of New York’s aquariums, parks, and zoos trace a captivating journey of urban development, conservation efforts, and a growing appreciation for the wonders of the natural world. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the concept of public parks and green spaces gained prominence, leading to the establishment of iconic parks like Central Park and Prospect Park.

As the city burgeoned, so did the desire to showcase and protect wildlife, giving rise to the Bronx Zoo in 1899, one of the earliest and most renowned zoological parks in the United States. Parallelly, the New York Aquarium, inaugurated in 1896, exemplifies the city’s commitment to marine education and conservation.

Over the decades, these institutions evolved, embracing new technologies, expanding their collections, and emphasizing conservation initiatives. The Central Park Zoo, another pivotal establishment, transformed from a menagerie into a modern zoo that prioritizes animal welfare and education. Today, these attractions stand as testaments to the city’s ever-growing dedication to preserving biodiversity, fostering environmental awareness, and providing immersive experiences that connect millions of visitors to the natural world within the urban landscape.

Best Aquariums in NYC for Attractions and Wildlife

Appreciate sea life by visiting adventure aquariums and zoos. Many of them feature freshwater and aquatic animals, including reptiles, amphibians, and more variety of animals. Some feature shark tunnels and aqua theater. You will surely enjoy your experience as you get up close with the marine species that you rarely see but get to encounter while they are in huge enclosures.

1. New York Aquarium: The Biggest Aquarium in New York


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New York Aquarium is home to over 500 different species, including an impressive collection of 18 different kinds of sharks and ray species. You will also have a close encounter with penguins, jellyfish, sea turtles, sea otter, giant Pacific octopus, and sea lions. Spanning 14 acres right across the boardwalk with 266 species of marine life, the aquarium captivates visitors with its diverse exhibits, offering a glimpse into the intricacies of marine ecosystems.

The aquarium also known as Coney Island Aquarium or Brooklyn Aquarium is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization dedicated to saving whales and corals. Visitors can also enjoy rides, animal feeding and an immersive experience in its 4D and 3D theaters. Additionally, they offer a sea lion show at Aquatheater and wild encounters with penguins. They also have exhibits in Conservation Hall, Sea Cliff and Glover’s Reef to inspire and educate visitors.

From mesmerizing underwater habitats to interactive displays, the aquarium provides an immersive experience, fostering both education and appreciation for the remarkable biodiversity found in our oceans. With its commitment to conservation and engaging presentations, this expansive aquatic oasis stands as a testament to the wonders of the underwater world.

2. Bronx Zoo


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The Bronx Zoo, a crown jewel among New York City’s cultural institutions, is celebrated for its expansive grounds and diverse array of wildlife. Home to over 6,000 animals representing more than 700 species, the zoo offers immersive exhibits like Congo Gorilla Forest, Madagascar!, and Tiger Mountain. Visitors love the innovative habitats that mirror natural environments, educational programs that promote wildlife conservation, and special events that make every trip to the Bronx Zoo a captivating and memorable experience for all ages.

3. Prospect Park Zoo


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The iconic Prospect Park is a beloved destination renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere and engaging exhibits. The zoo’s diverse attractions include the Discovery Trail, featuring animals like red pandas and dingoes, and the Barn and Garden, where visitors can interact with domestic animals.

People appreciate the intimate setting and well-designed habitats that allow for up-close encounters with a variety of wildlife, fostering a deeper understanding of the animal kingdom and promoting conservation awareness. The Prospect Park Zoo’s commitment to education and its charming ambiance make it a cherished spot for both locals and visitors seeking an enriching day surrounded by nature.

4. Central Park Zoo


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Nestled in the heart of Manhattan, the Central Park Zoo is a cherished oasis offering a delightful escape into the world of wildlife. Visitors are captivated by the Tisch Children’s Zoo, which provides interactive experiences with farm animals, and the Temperate Territory, home to red pandas and snow leopards. The zoo’s innovative Polar Circle exhibit, featuring polar bears and sea lions, is a perennial favorite. With its scenic location within Central Park, educational programs, and well-designed habitats, the Central Park Zoo continues to be a beloved destination for families and nature enthusiasts alike.

5. The Queens Zoo


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The zoo is celebrated for its charming ambiance and focus on native North American wildlife. Visitors delight in the aviary at the Waterfowl Marsh, featuring a variety of bird species, and the iconic sea lion pool, offering engaging presentations. The zoo’s animal farm showcases domestic breeds, and the woodland habitat provides a serene setting for species like the bald eagle and American bison. People appreciate the intimate size of the Queens Zoo, making it a perfect spot for families to enjoy a leisurely day surrounded by diverse and fascinating creatures.

6. Staten Island Zoo


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nestled in the heart of Staten Island, offers a delightful experience for visitors with its diverse array of wildlife and engaging exhibits. The zoo’s attractions include the African Savannah, where visitors can encounter zebras and kangaroos, and the tropical Rainforest exhibit, showcasing a vibrant array of species. 

People appreciate the zoo’s focus on education and conservation, evident in programs like the Children’s Center and the Serpentarium, housing a fascinating collection of reptiles. With its commitment to fostering a deeper connection between visitors and the animal kingdom, the Staten Island Zoo remains a cherished destination for families and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

7. Pacific Aquarium and Plant

This is a hidden gem that captivates visitors with its diverse collection of aquatic life and lush greenery. Boasting an extensive selection of tropical fish, marine creatures, and exotic plants, the store offers enthusiasts a vibrant and immersive experience. 

Beyond its unique inventory, people appreciate the knowledgeable and friendly staff who provide valuable insights and guidance for both novice and experienced aquarium keepers. With its charming ambiance and commitment to quality, the Pacific Aquarium and Plant has earned a special place among those seeking a touch of nature in the bustling landscape of New York City.

Plan Your Visit

From the marine enchantments of the New York Aquarium to the diverse wildlife havens of Central Park Zoo and Bronx Zoo, each destination offers a unique and immersive experience, inviting visitors to discover the rich tapestry of the natural world within the bustling urban landscape. All aquarium buildings and exhibits are accessible by wheelchair, so if your companion uses one. You should not worry about it.

Becoming a Member

Be a member and gain free entry to the Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park, and Queens zoos, as well as the opportunity to visit the New York Aquarium, all while supporting our efforts to conserve species and encourage the next generation of zoologists and environmentalists.

You can also use an affiliate or corporate discount code to purchase tickets at a lower price.

Admission and Timings

You can check this site for admission tickets. Admission is free after 3:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, but advanced timed tickets are required. Wednesday Afternoon Ticket Store opens on Monday at 3:00 p.m. for that Wednesday’s reservation. Guests must secure a ticket before dropping a visit.


Enjoy a different experience by getting up close with various mammals and sea creatures in the New York aquarium nearest you. The aquariums mentioned above have a great selection of marine life, from sharks, seals, whales, and more. Most importantly, these animal encounters are free every Wednesday after 3 p.m., so there is no reason to skip this adventure!

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