Call the Reservations Department: at (423) 265-0698 or (800) 262-0695 ext. 3600 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. Reservations will be accepted up to 10 working days prior to your visit. 

Don’t forget to book a FREE education program for your school group! Ask the reservationists for more information.

Watch our Secret Reef Cam

Secret Reef web cam
The Secret Reef cam is live, 24-7. So dive in and watch toothy sharks, colorful reef fish and divers in the Tennessee Aquarium's largest saltwater exhibit.




Ever dream of sleeping under the peaks alongside sharks, stingrays and more?


Field Trip Guide

Here are some guidelines to prepare your group for a successful field trip to the Tennessee Aquarium, IMAX Theater and/or River Gorge Explorer. We recommend scheduling your visit during the months of September through March. We host very high numbers of school groups during April and May. 

Kids on a busTiming
The Tennessee Aquarium opens at 10 a.m. and operates on Eastern Time; educational classroom programs start at 9 a.m. It is very important that your group arrive at the Aquarium, IMAX, River Gorge Explorer and education programs ahead of time. Groups need to check in 15 minutes before planned start time.  This will allow time to make payments, receive chaperone passes, listen to orientation and visit the restrooms before beginning your field trip. Late arrivals for IMAX, River Gorge Explorer or education programs will need to be rescheduled or canceled. Large groups seeing an IMAX movie should be in line 15 minutes before the movie starts.  Allow your group 2.5 hours to tour both Aquarium buildings.

To ensure a safe experience, we suggest that Pre-K and Kindergarten groups use the stairs and elevators instead of the escalators while touring our buildings.  Please remember that Crocs and strollers are not permitted on escalators. Visit the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation's website for a fun interactive Safe-T Rider video and activities to share with your students before your trip.

Chaperone Information
Please organize your class into small groups with chaperones assigned to supervise students. The Tennessee Aquarium and IMAX 3D Theater require one chaperone for every ten students in grades 3 through 12 and one chaperone for every 5 students in grades pre-K through 2. Only the required number of chaperones may receive complimentary admission to the Aquarium and the IMAX Theater. Additional adults may purchase their tickets individually upon arrival or the additional cost may be added to the group payment. Chaperones on the River Gorge Explorer do not receive complimentary admission. Each chaperone will receive a sticker when they check-in and must wear the sticker during their visit.  Students must stay with their chaperones at all times.  

What to do when you get here
. . .
A Group Specialist will greet your group upon arrival. If staff is not available, please notify the attendant in the ticketing office that your group has arrived.  There are restroom facilities and water fountains outside on Ross's Landing Park & Plaza, under the arches to the left (west) of the Aquarium Buildings.  

Group Orientation will take place before you begin touring the Aquarium buildings. Please ask students to be quiet and attentive during orientation.  If your group is beginning their field trip at the IMAX Theater or River Gorge Explorer, it may be more convenient for buses to unload in the appropriate areas. 

Bus Parking, Maps and Directions

The Tennessee Aquarium is located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, TN.  A bus turn-around is available for loading and unloading at 2nd Street and Broad Street.  Free bus parking is available on Power Alley behind the IMAX Theater and on Riverfront Parkway under the Olgiati Bridge (Hwy 27).  Click here for directions.

Aquarium Riverfront
The River Journey building

. . . will take about 1.5 hours to tour. Restrooms and water fountains are located in the lower lobby (level A) and in Discovery Hall (level 3). You start in the Seahorse Gallery which is one floor down from the main lobby on level A.  You will then return to the main lobby and take a four story escalator ride to the Riverview Room. From there you enter the Cove Forest.  Your path spirals down through multiple galleries such as Discovery Hall, the Delta Swamp, River Giants, Rivers of the World, Turtles and Tennessee Rivers. 

The Ocean Journey building
. . . will take about 1 hour to tour. Restrooms and water fountains are located in the Tropical Cove (level 4) and on the ground floor.  The path through Ocean Journey begins in the Tropical Cove on the 4th level. There you will visit Stingray Bay and our Butterfly Garden.  Down the escalator, you will come to Penguins’ Rock, the Secret Reef, Boneless Beauties, Jellies: Living Art and the Undersea Cavern.

IMAX 3D Theater
IMAX 3D Theater

If the IMAX film is first on your schedule, it is suggested that buses drop students off alongside or behind that building.  Your IMAX movie will take approximately 45 minutes. Please allow time for a restroom break before the movie begins.  Restrooms are located in the IMAX lobby. Enter the theater in a single line and use caution since the lighting is dim. Groups will be ushered to their seats and be seated together.  If you are seeing a 3D movie, a Guest Services Associate will hand out your 3D glasses at the entrance to the theater and will collect the glasses as you exit.  Please encourage your students to be on their best behavior. Refrain from talking during the movie and turn cell phones off.  Disorderly groups will be asked to leave the theater.  To insure the safety of our visitors, no groups are allowed into the theater once the house lights have dimmed. Click here for your current IMAX movie schedule and to download a free Educator’s Resource Guide. 
PLEASE NOTE: During much of the school year, IMAX has a 10am Teacher’s Choice available Monday through Friday. The first group to reserve a minimum of 100 students for this show time, can choose a current film or a past film. When you call to make your group reservation, be sure to ask about this option.  

River Gorge Explorer dock

Hours of Operation

The Tennessee Aquarium operates on Eastern Standard Time.  First admittance to the Aquarium is at 10:00 a.m. with last admittance at 6:00 p.m.
The Aquarium closes at 8:00 p.m.
The Gift Shops close at 6:30 p.m.
The Aquarium ticketing center opens at 9:30 a.m. daily.


School groups must make reservations in advance. To make a reservation for your field trip, call the Reservations Department at (423) 265-0698 or (800) 262-0695 ext 3600 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.  Reservations will be accepted up to 10 working days prior to your visit.  Don’t forget to book a FREE education program for your school group!  Ask the reservationist for more information.


One person must handle payment for the entire group upon arrival by either school check, MC, VISA, Discover, AMEX or cash. Please be sure to have your student and chaperone counts ready for the cashier. Click here for school group rates.

Cancellation Policy

Groups that fail to cancel within 48 hours before their field trip or fail to arrive will be charged a $50 cancellation fee.  To cancel or receive more information about the Aquarium and IMAX 3D Theater cancellation policy, please call Group Reservations at (423) 265-0698.

Education Programs

Classroom programs, Lunch & Learns and Auditorium programs are FREE for school groups visiting the Tennessee Aquarium, IMAX 3D Theater or River Gorge Explorer.

Education Resources

Fun educational supplements such as AquaGuide, AquaQuests, scavenger hunts and more are available to make your field trip a learning expedition. 

Lunch & Learn

When planning lunch for your group’s field trip, you may want to consider scheduling a Lunch & Learn program if your schedule permits, especially during colder months. There are several picnic areas that may be used for lunch on the grounds surrounding the Aquarium. Two sheltered outdoor areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis.