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Visit the South Carolina Aquarium | Tickets and Discounts

Updated: June 30, 2023

In this post, we share everything you need to know about visiting the South Carolina Aquarium.

A popular attraction amongst both locals and visitors, the Charleston Aquarium is a great place to visit any time of year. 


Hours & Tickets

Tickets: 

Aquarium utilizes a dynamic ticket calendar. Thus admission ticket prices differ on a daily basis.

General Admission

Hours: The aquarium is open for entry 9 am - 5 pm daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day!

The last entry time is 3:30 pm.

If you want to avoid the crowds, try visiting on the weekdays or before 11 am or after 2 pm. 

How long does it take to go through the South Carolina Aquarium?

While a lot of guests will find enough here to spend at least 2 hours, it is recommended to set aside around 90 minutes at least.

If you're traveling as a family, read our post, Charleston on a Budget for money-saving tips. 


South Carolina Aquarium Discounts

This section will detail some of the best ways to save money on general admission to the Charleston Aquarium, including opportunities for complimentary admission.


Become a Member

Members of the Charleston Aquarium can look forward to unlimited admission for an entire year, exclusive access to popular programs and local events, and more.

You'll also receive discounts on general admission tickets, gift shop purchases, and other attractions in the area.

Memberships start at $99 for adults and $219 for families (2 adults, all children under 18).


Angelfish Program

This program exists for the benefit of visitors who experience financial hardships, physical or intellectual disabilities, and other concerns that make accessability difficult.

Complementary admission is granted on a case-by-case basis and you must fill out an application beforehand.

If you qualify for the Angelfish Memberships, you'll receive a family membership for just $40 a year.

Visitors may be required to provide proof of eligibility including SNAP/EBT, digital WIC card, and photo ID.


Public Library Program

South Carolina residents who are members of the Charleston County Public Library are eligible to check out family memberships for up to a week, allowing families to visit for free!


Military Discount

Veterans, active duty military, and retirees are eligible for a $25 discount on all levels of membership. A valid military ID card may be required.


Educator Discounts

Certified K-12 teachers in South Carolina are eligible for free entry. Teachers are also eligible for $25 off any level of membership.


Getting Here

The South Carolina Aquarium is located in Downtown Charleston on the Harbor at 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC 29401. 

Check out the South Carolina Aquarium website for more details.

By Car: If traveling by car, you can either take I-26 East, Highway 17 North (West Ashley), or Highway 17 South. 

There is a city parking garage at 24 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401. Metered parking is located along Washington Street and Concord Street.

By CARTA DASH Trolley: Take Route 210 (Orange) and get off at the South Carolina Aquarium stop. This service is completely free to use and operates every day other than Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. 

Read our post on the CARTA DASH trolley to learn more.  


Exhibits

Discover the wonder of water, wildlife, and wild places at the South Carolina Aquarium.

Overlooking Charleston Harbor, the Aquarium connects you with more than 5,000 amazing sea animals and marine life, allowing you to learn how you can protect them.

Come face-to-face with sick and injured sea turtles in rehabilitation in our Sea Turtle Care Center ™ and follow their journeys from rescue to rehab to release.

Visit our two touch tanks for a hands-on experience with stingrays, sharks, horseshoe crabs, sea stars, and urchins.

Learn fascinating details about the natural world at daily dive shows and animal encounters.

Visit the South Carolina Aquarium

Extending out onto the harbor, the aquarium has over 60 exhibits to learn about aquatic animals from river otters to turtles and of course, small sharks!

Visitors can also expect to see seahorses, jellyfish, penguins, and even land animals that have a close relationship with aquatic life, including great herons, owls, and bald eagles.

In addition to all the interior exhibitions, there are also three exhibits that are at least partially outdoors as well: The Shallows, Mountain Forest, and Saltmarsh Aviary.

It's an interactive experience where you can even reach in and touch the sea life. 


Touch Tank

Get hands-on during your visit to the Touch Tank, which features a variety of species of invertebrates, like hermit crabs, whelk, sea urchins, horseshoe crabs, and Atlantic stingrays.


Great Ocean Tank

This two-story, 385,000-gallon tank is the flagstone of the aquarium.

Come face to face with sharks and say hello to the 220-pound loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta.

There are divers that put on daily dive shows with the animals. 


Sea Turtle Hospital

Still want more? South Carolina's only Sea Turtle Hospital is located at the aquarium.

This aquarium does a lot of sea turtle conservation work, so you can trust that they know how to protect and take care of these delicate animals.


Aquarium Aglow

During the holiday season, South Carolina Aquarium offers an excellent lighting display with many different installations to get visitors in a more festive spirit.

This event will take place in 2023. You can expect this event to take place annually in November/December.


Reviews

Reviews for the South Carolina Aquarium are generally very positive. It maintains a 4-star rating on TripAdvisor and is especially popular with families.

Though some found that the smaller size of the aquarium was disappointing and not worth the entrance fee, most were more than satisfied with their experience.

As one reviewer points out, part of the fee goes toward the full-service turtle hospital which is a unique feature of this aquarium. 

About The Author

Scott Nelson

Scott has led over 2,000 tours of Charleston and has more than 1000 5 star reviews. He started working in museums at the age of 16 (Unsinkable Molly Brown House) and hasn't looked back. He was the Executive Director of Heurich House and on the historic interpretation/ education staff at Mount Vernon, both in Washington DC, for over 6 years. Scott moved to Charleston in 2012 for a job with the Historic Charleston Foundation and began leading tours for Free Tours by Foot.
Updated: June 30th, 2023
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