Phoenix With Kids

SeaLife Aquarium or Odysea Aquarium: Which is Best?

Jana Tingom

Phoenix is home to two awesome aquariums, Odysea Aquarium and SeaLife Aquarium. And the question sometimes is asked, which is best? Which one is worth the time and money? Which one offers the best experience?

The answer is: you really can’t go wrong visiting either aquarium. Both attractions will be enjoyable to your children! Both will be educational as well. There are a few factors to consider, however, that may help you decide which location is best for your family. These are: age of your children, price and other attractions. We’ve had memberships to both in the past 6 years and feel we can offer some insight into making your experience memorable.

Age of child(ren) – When our daughter was 13 months, we purchased our first membership to SeaLife. It was literally her favorite activity all summer! We kept our membership for two years after that as well. SeaLife lends itself to being inviting and open to the eight and under crowd. Almost all the tank displays are from the ground up, and there are very few places where little ones need a boost to see better. Odysea fits better for ages eight and over, and definitely teens. It’s extensive and detailed, with lots of extra experiences like SeaTrek or Penguin Encounter (which cost more). This is not to say, however, that younger children will not enjoy Odysea. We currently have a lifetime membership here and our 3 year old son always enjoys our visits.

Price – the costs to visit each aquarium are vastly different. Children ages 2-12 are $24.95/person and adults are $34.95/person at Odysea. At SeaLife, children ages 3-12 are $17/person and adults are $22/person. So if you’re wanting to keep costs down, SeaLife might be the better option. Also, check each websites for specials. SeaLife has a fabulous Monday-Thursday toddler admission price, and Odysea often has reduced pricing for late afternoon-evening visits.

Other activities in mind – both aquariums are situated with many other activities nearby. SeaLife is located in the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe; this area has extensive shopping available, plus other great activities for kids like Legoland, Tilt Studio, and a movie theatre! Odysea is part of the Odysea in the Desert complex in Scottsdale, which also offers shopping and restaurants, and other attractions like Butterfly Wonderland, Dolphinarius and Pangea: Land of the Dinosaurs. So it would be worth considering what other destinations your family has in mind and choose an aquarium accordingly.

Hopefully this article has helped you make a decision in which aquarium to visit. We’ve also written articles on both locations, if you’re interested in more details. (Our review on Odysea can be viewed here, and the review on SeaLife can be viewed here.)

Do we have a favorite aquarium? Honestly, no. We frequent Odysea more since we currently have a membership. Our kids love the seated carousel and clown fish tank! We visit SeaLife 1-2 times a year and the kids love the seahorse exhibit and the touch tide pools. Both have brought smiles to our faces and memories to treasure.

We’d love to hear which aquarium you chose and welcome any tips or suggestions to pass along to other readers!


  • Jana Tingom

    Jana is a homeschooling mother of three children, and lives in Scottsdale with her husband, Chris. She enjoys traveling, reading and coffee. Follow @phoenixwithkids on Instagram for daily photos around Phoenix!

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6 Responses

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the great description. A suggestion: perhaps add captions to the photos to let the viewers know which photos are from which aquarium. It would be useful to know!

    Thanks again

  2. I am a disabled Vietnam vet. Hard to walk much. Which aquarium is best for this older fella? Thanks

  3. both are very walkable! SeaLife is smaller and might be good for a shorter walking experience.

  4. Great description! We have been to Sea Life but never to Odessey. Your details helped me to decide we will wait longer to go to Odessey. Thanks!

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