The Greater Cleveland Aquarium in Ohio was opened in 2012, over 20 years after the last aquarium in Cleveland closed. This new aquarium was envisioned by a commercial property owner who was looking to fill his vacancy in the Powerhouse Complex. Planning Began in 2009 and the vision was a $50 million project that would span over 100,000 square feet, filling the complex.

The project was a lengthy collaboration speared headed by Powerhouse owner, Jeffrey Jacobs, and in 2012, after spending only $33 million instead of the original plan of $50 million, the aquarium opened to the public after a ribbon cutting ceremony on January 21st, 2012, three years later. Greater Cleveland Aquarium



There are eight galleries with more than 50 exhibits where visitors will journey through Australia, South America, Africa, and Indo-Pacific to discover the marine life there. There are also exhibits that relate to the native species from Ohio specifically and many exotic animals as well.

Plastic Waters Exhibit educates visitors on the effects of pollution, namely plastics, affect the great lakes region, oceans, and our water supplies. This exhibit combines elements of arts and sciences and features some amazing artifacts like a mass of plastics bags that weighs 35 pounds that was inside the stomach of a camel. This exhibit is sponsored by Alliance for the Great Lakes and also shows how visitors can volunteer and get involved in recycling and conservation programs.

Ohio Lake + Rivers focuses on the native marine life of Lake Eerie and Ohio. Lake Eerie has just the right conditions to produce the most diverse wildlife populations of all the Great Lakes. The exhibit makes visitors feel as though they are walking through the woods and will experience waterfalls, turtles and reptiles, native fish, birds, owls and a discovery hut where kids can participate in hands on learning activities.

Lakes + Rivers of the World showcases marine life from Australia, Asia, South America and Africa. This exhibit features tropical and exotic species that thrive in warm waters. Visitors are greeted by the Giant Gourami in the entrance tank which has become one of the favorite exhibits at Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

The aquarium even serves as an African Tortoise rescue with several coming from an animal sanctuary in the state. In this exhibit, visitors can interact with the tortoises by touching their shells which the animals enjoy. Greater Cleveland Aquarium in Cleveland, Ohio - Photo: Greater Cleveland Aquarium

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»More Galleries

More Galleries

Discovery Zone is another exhibit that is dedicated to education on pollution. The effects that pollutants such as chemicals has on the ocean eco-system is highlighted through several interactive exhibits. The Discovery Zone also showcases the Moon Jellyfish that glow in the dark. The exhibit is in a smoke stack of the power house and creates a mythical environment for visitors as they walk through the life stages of the jellyfish from polyps to adults.

Indo-Pacific Gallery is home to fish from Eastern Asia and Indonesia, Fiji, The Red Sea and Hawaii. There are venomous Lionfish to greet visitors and exhibits that are decorated with exotic flowers native to those regions as well.

Northern Pacific Gallery showcases life in the cold-water oceans and features animals such as Octopus, crabs, anemones, sea cucumbers and starfish. The giant octopus is one of the visitor’s favorite exhibits and the create is known to come right up to the glass to greet visitors. Greater Cleveland Aquarium in Cleveland, Ohio - Photo: Greater Cleveland Aquarium

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»More Galleries

More Galleries

Coastal Gallery is one of the most popular galleries in the Greater Cleveland Aquarium and features an 11,000- gallon touch pool where visitors can interact with stingrays using a two-finger touch method. There is also a live coral exhibit in this gallery where visitors learn why reefs need to be protected. In fact, the coral in these exhibits is grown from tiny fragment pieces of coral that is acquired from various marine life institutions so that no harm comes to any of the natural ocean coral reefs. Children love the coral reef exhibit because many of the fish seen in the popular Disney Movie Finding Nemo live here.

Tropical Reef is made up of three galleries that all feature tropical fish.

Shark Sea Tube is holds 230,000 gallons of water and features four different species of sharks, eels, turtles, and many other fish. The most impressive, and often awe-inspiring, exhibit, the 175 Sea Tube that visitors can walk through in the gallery allows them to get up close and personal to sharks and feel as though they are swimming amongst them.

The Exploration Station is set up just like a real-life research boat. The electric eel is part of this exhibit and visitors can explore ship cabins like the captain quarters and engage in several hands-on learning activities. Greater Cleveland Aquarium in Cleveland, Ohio - Photo: Greater Cleveland Aquarium

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»Special Events and Programs

Special Events and Programs

There are many events that are hosted at The Greater Cleveland Aquarium that are great for the community; as well as private events that can be booked and members only parties. There are a four large, community celebrations that are hosted at the aquarium—Winter Water Land, Red, White and Brew, Hauntaquarium, and The Shark Weekend.

There are also many interactive and educational programming offered by the aquarium throughout the year for many different ages.

Small Fry is a program tailored for toddler and preschool aged children. These events combine games, crafts, and hands on activities to learn about the world around them through color, touch, movements, shapes and animal encounters. Each child is required to have an adult participant with them. This special program also includes story and snack time and unlimited free time in the aquarium afterwards.

Aquarist for a Day is recommended for kids between ages 12 and 17 and provides a shadow experience of an aquarist team member. Participants get to follow their team member behind the scenes to learn about what goes into taking care of the hundreds of marine animals at the aquarium each day. Registration for this program is required at least seven days in advance and the events always take place on Saturday afternoons.

Very Important Guest Tour (VIG Tour) is a group tour with guide that goes through the galleries and behind the scenes for up to six guests. Guests have ample time to ask questions and get a sneak peek behind the scenes to areas of the aquarium are usually not accessible by the public. Greater Cleveland Aquarium in Cleveland, Ohio - Photo: Greater Cleveland Aquarium

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»More Special Events and Programs

More Special Events and Programs

Shark Dive Cleveland allows SCUBA divers who have been certified, the chance to encounter the sharks and 30 other species in the shark exhibit as close as possible. The experience includes admission to the aquarium for the participant and a guest that will watch them dive, a tour of the platform, a walkthrough of the exhibit and education session to learn about the various creatures in the exhibit and how to interact appropriately and all the dive equipment you will need for venturing into the shark tank. Participants are also encouraged to pick up as many shark teeth as they can find for souvenirs.

Fish Feeding Adventure allows participants to explore what goes into feeding the 30 species of marine life, included four species of sharks, from the top of the exhibit. The minimum age for the adventure is six and guests from 6-17 must be accompanied by their parent or guardian. Participants will also get to go behind the scenes to the feeding station where feels are prepared and will receive a guided tour of the SeaTube. Guests will be handling raw seafood so any allergies need to be declared upon registration.

Stingray Art Experience is a unique, creative experience for anyone six years and older. A private painting session is set up so that groups of up to four people can choose a color palette and assist a stingray in painting a canvass that participants can take home with them.

Zzzz’s in the Seas Overnight is offered to scout groups, families, youth groups, birthday parties and private events where guests get to come into the aquarium after hours and spend the night. Participants get a guided tour of the aquarium, animal encounter, SCUBA presentation in the SeaTube, scavenger hunt, snacks, and breakfast. There is a 20-guest minimum and 60 max with all guests needing to be at least 5 years old at the time of the overnight.

Birthday Parties can be held at the aquarium on Saturdays and Sundays are best for kids age 2-12. There is a 10 -guest minimum and 40 max for all parties and there are rules pertaining to chaperoning and deposits. Lunch, Parking, party room and aquarium admission is included for each guest. Greater Cleveland Aquarium in Cleveland, Ohio - Photo: Greater Cleveland Aquarium

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»Plan your Visit

Plan your Visit

The goal of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium has always been, and remains, to educate the public on fresh water and salt water life and saving the Earth’s water supplies. All the educational programs that are offered by the aquarium coincide with the Ohio Revised Science Standards and Model.

There are homeschool, scouting and school field trip programs offered by the aquarium along with educator resources, and summer camps. Most of the summer camp programs are five days and the Shark camp offers an overnight in the SeaTube as well. There is also a boating outing on Lake Eerie that is available for kids between the ages of 10 and 14 who will learn about how human activity has impacted the Great Lakes Region.

Back to: Best Things to do in Cleveland Address: 2000 Sycamore Street, Cleveland, OH 44113, Phone: 216-862-8803 Greater Cleveland Aquarium in Cleveland, Ohio - Photo: Greater Cleveland Aquarium

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Greater Cleveland Aquarium in Cleveland, Ohio