The South Carolina Aquarium Is a Day Trip You Need to Put on Your Agenda

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Thinking about a trip to the South Carolina Aquarium? This aquarium in Charleston, SC is truly an educational adventure the whole family can enjoy. Here are some tips for your visit and all the information you’ll need when you visit the South Carolina Aquarium.

A visit to the aquarium is a fabulous day trip or an awesome part of an educational trip to Charleston.

Admission to the South Carolina Aquarium was provided for the purpose of the initial review, which has been updated to reflect current offerings. All opinions are genuine and those of our team member. 

Fun at the SC Aquarium
Photo Credit: SC Aquarium

What to Expect at the SC Aquarium

Tickets: If you are planning a visit, you will need to purchase tickets in advance online, with a timed reservation.

Maps: Add a copy of the aquarium map to your phone as you enter. Scan the QR code located on the floor stand as you enter the aquarium, so you can use the map as you move through the aquarium. If you would prefer to print out a copy for your visit, here is a map of the South Carolina Aquarium Exhibits.

Food: The Seat Turtle Snack Bar is open from 11 am to 3 pm, and there are an infinite amount of dining choices surrounding the aquarium in downtown Charleston. 

Things to Do at the SC Aquarium

When you check-in at the ticket counter, you’ll be asked if you want to feed the stingrays. YES, the answer is yes. It’s the best $5 extra per person you’ll spend and I’ll tell you why in a minute.

Large fish tank at the SC Aquarium
Photo Credit: SC Aquarium

Take Photos

When you enter the building upstairs, one of the first things you’ll see is a huge circular tank of fish. If your children have cameras this is a perfect chance to use them, or just enjoy the beautiful variety of fish!

Touch Tank

Don’t miss the touch tank on the second floor. It’s a great opportunity to learn fun facts about the animals in the tank, ask questions, and of course, find out what they feel like!

Scavenger Hunt

Consider bringing clipboards with a scavenger hunt activity to help the kids focus on details! For a really simple option, just right click this picture and save it to your phone. Or, save it to your computer and print it for your visit. You can leave it as is to fit a full size clipboard, or cut the margins off to use a small size clipboard.

Or, download a scavenger hunt activity from the aquarium’s website. You’ll find a variety of great options to pick from according to your child’s grade level.

Trading Post

I was really excited to see they have something called “The Trading Post”. This is a place where guests can bring up to two found/recyclable items for trading. You can walk in with a soda cap and walk out with a pretty shell at the South Carolina Aquarium’s Trading Post!

Items that the trading post accepts

  • Plastic bottle caps
  • Wine corks
  • Cell phones
  • Sharks teeth
  • Fossils
  • Rocks
  • Shells
  • Ink cartridges
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Glass items
  • Markers

There are a few items that the Trading Post will not accept. This includes bird items (nest, egg, feathers), live animals, sea turtle bones, or anything else from an endangered species. 

A great opportunity to find shells and fossils can be found with the Sandlapper Water Tours that launch right around the corner at the maritime center. You can go on a morning eco-tour and then head to the aquarium. 

Sting Ray Feeding Experience

When you check-in at the ticket counter, you’ll be asked if you want to feed the stingrays. YES, the answer is yes. It’s the best $5 extra per person you’ll spend.

This was by far our favorite part of the trip to the aquarium. I’m actually thinking about buying a membership so I can go visit my new little buddies every time we visit Charleston. I know, it sounds crazy…. I know. But oh my goodness, I can’t explain it, they stole our hearts. 

The sensation of having them eat out of your hand is the strangest feeling! But they were like little puppies begging for treats and it was adorable. When you pay to feed them, you’ll get a little bowl with headless bait fish. Once you get over the “icky-grossness” of the headless fish, it’s so much fun.

Sea Turtle Hospital

At Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™ you have a chance to observe the real-life treatment and recovery of injured and sick sea turtles. View information on each sea turtle patient, observe the surgical suite, and even get involved by practicing your diagnostic skills on mock patients. Learn about how you can help protect sea turtles in the wild!

Sea Turtle Hospital at the SC Aquarium
Photo Credit: SC Aquarium

We enjoyed our time at the Aquarium and can’t wait to visit again! 

South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston
843.577.FISH (3474)

Open daily 9 am – last ticket sold at 3:30 pm and the building closes at 5 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day, closes at noon on Christmas Eve

Guests 13+ years of age – $34.95
Children 3-12 years of age – $27.95
Toddlers 2 and under – Free

This article was originally written by Melanie Coblentz and has been updated by the Kidding Around Team.

About the Author
How does Kidding Around® bring readers high-quality and up-to-date content month after month and season after season? We have a dedicated team of writers and editors who regularly update our fabulous content to keep it current and relevant for our readers. This team combs lists of events, heads out into the community to experience new Upstate offerings, and communicates with local businesses. Many of our updated articles and event lists, like this one, reflect the contributions and hard work of multiple Kidding Around® team members.

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