The Seattle Aquarium is located on the waterfront at Pier 59. It is among the top five paid visitor attractions in the Puget Sound region. The Seattle Aquarium operates as a nonprofit organization, through a long-term operating agreement with the City of Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation.
Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Seattle Aquarium is the ninth largest aquarium in the U.S. Since opening in 1977, well over 20 million visitors have visited the aquarium’s marine exhibits.
Tickets are $35 for adults (13+) and $25 for kids (4-12). Washington State residents can get $5 off regular admission prices. Still, it can make for an expensive day, especially if you are a family on a budget.
Fortunately, there are several ways to get free or low cost tickets, which we list below.
About Seattle Aquarium Exhibits
Biologists at the Seattle Aquarium conduct critical research on a variety of Puget Sound species. The Aquarium’s sea otter conservation program consolidates the institution’s efforts related to sea otter research.
The Aquarium is actively engaged in the Central Waterfront and Elliott Bay Seawall planning process based upon replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with the new SR 99 tunnel creating new public spaces along the waterfront.
The renovation of the harbor seal exhibit, opened in June of 2013, was the first step in a 20-year strategic plan, which includes a goal of significantly increasing the physical size of the museum and establishing the aquarium as the centerpiece of the Seattle waterfront.
The Aquarium’s species collection is featured within six major exhibits:
- Window on Washington Waters
- Life on the Edge
- Pacific Coral Reef
- Underwater Dome
- Birds & Shores
- Marine Mammals
Some of our favorite exhibits at the Seattle aquarium include an undersea dome with a 360º view into a 400,000-gallon tank filled with hundreds of fascinating Puget Sound fish, otter and seal exhibits, a salmon exhibit, orca whale exhibit, octopus exhibit, and coral reef exhibit, among many others.
There is also a family activity center and interactive exhibits, a gift shop, and café.
How to get discount tickets to Seattle Aquarium
Listed below are the ways you can obtain discount tickets to the Seattle Aquarium. Some are available to everyone and some are available to select groups.
Aquarium membership. Become a member of the Seattle Aquarium and receive free admission, express entrance through the VIP door (no standing in line!), invitations to exclusive events, and a free magazine subscription, plus discounts on parking, gift shop items, café purchases, and summer camps. Individual membership begins at $79 per year. Aquarium membership pays for itself after 2-3 visits. Dual and Family memberships are available. For more info, visit: https://www.seattleaquarium.org/membership
Seattle Library Card*. The Seattle Public Library (SPL) Museum Pass program allow SPL and associated cardholders* to reserve a family pass to several museums, including the Seattle Aquarium. You must reserve a pass for a specific date, and there are a limited number of passes available each day. So plan to reserve a pass well in advance of the date you wish to visit.
- For more information about the Seattle Library Museum Pass pass program, visit https://www.spl.org/programs-and-services/arts-and-culture/museum-pass.
*Note that you can get a free SPL card if you live, work, own property, or go to school in Seattle, Bothell, or most of King County (except city of Yarrow Point and Hunts Point), or if you have a Library card issued by any of the following library systems: Everett, Kitsap, Pierce County, Puyallup, Sno-Isle, or Timberland.
Connections Community Program. City of Seattle and many human service organizations in King, Pierce, and Snohomish County offer qualifying individuals and families free or reduced aquarium admission tickets through the Connections program. This includes organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, YWCA, public health facilities, DSHS offices, King county government offices, city governments throughout King County, Seattle Parks Community Centers, and many, many other organizations that serve children and families. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for everyone to experience Seattle attractions, regardless of circumstance. If you are a client at a partner organization, inquire with them about obtaining Seattle Aquarium tickets.
- For a complete list of partner organizations with free or reduced aquarium admission tickets, visit: https://www.seattleaquarium.org/sites/default/files/files/CommunityPartnerList-5-10-2018_1.pdf or visit: https://www.seattleaquarium.org/connections-program.
Seattle CityPass. Save 49% or more on Seattle’s best attractions with CityPASS, including the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, Pacific Science Center OR Chihuly Garden & Glass, and Woodland Park Zoo. Purchase CityPASS online for immediate delivery to your mobile device or buy at zoo gates.
- For more info about CityPass, visit: https://www.citypass.com/seattle
Volunteer. If you have time to give, volunteering is another way to get in on aquarium and marine action for free, and the behind-the-scenes opportunity is priceless. Read more about volunteer opportunities below.
Volunteer Opportunities at Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Aquarium also many volunteer opportunities for adults and students. Here are two of the most well-known volunteer programs:
Beach Naturalist program. Every summer, the Aquarium trains over 150 Beach Naturalist volunteers to visit local beaches during low-tide weekends and engage families in hands-on exploration of their local marine environment while increasing their understanding of how their everyday actions affect Puget Sound. Besides a visit to the aquarium, it’s another great way to learn about local sea life.
- For more information, visit the Beach Naturalist program.
Salmon Journey program. Every fall, volunteer naturalists engage people along the Cedar River Salmon Journey program to see the salmon migration, learn about the epic journey, and how we can help to keep these special creatures coming back to the river where they were born. Sign up in September for the fall training.
- For more information Seattle Aquarium volunteer opportunities for youth and adults, visit: https://www.seattleaquarium.org/volunteer
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