The Florida Aquarium features various underwater creatures, like rays, sea turtles, sea dragons, coral, and various fish species. It also has a giant octopus, although that exhibit was closed when we were there. In addition, the aquarium includes a giant, multi-level glass-domed aviary with tanks and trees that exhibit a variety of Florida’s native coastal wildlife, like alligators, otters, and a pelican. This area has a twisting, path that takes visitors to different heights, sometimes offering a bird’s-eye view of the other exhibits. The aquarium also offers special shows with scuba divers, and even has a resident assemblage of penguins that it parades through the lobby at certain times – but we missed both. Additional non-exhibit features include a children’s water play area, cafeteria-style dining, and an outdoor observation deck.
Tampa’s Florida Aquarium is a little gem.
My favorite part of the Aquarium is the area that highlights the sea life found in Florida’s bayous, rivers and coral reefs in a natural looking atmosphere. The exhibit also features Florida’s birds.
The aquarium has a “no bone zone” with different types of jellyfish and an entire section of different types of seahorses from around “down under”.
The aquarium also offers free shows but most of the time you’ll have to ask for a schedule to find out the show times. I would recommend looking at the schedule when you enter and plan your visit around one or two shows.
The shows are entertaining and educational. The main show to see is the one in the largest tank with the scuba divers. It’s offered several times a day and is a winner with the kids. Many of the shows are run by docent volunteers and vary. Two of my favorites are on training river otters (with demonstrations when the otters choose to cooperate) and feeding the baby alligators.
The aquarium also has a small outdoor water park so if you have children be sure to bring their bathing suits, shoes they can wear in the water and a towel or two.
The aquarium offers additional tours and packages such as swimming with the sharks, backstage passes and a dolphin tour – all cost additional.
The aquarium is next door to Tampa’s cruise ship port and the Channel Side Entertainment district. A free trolley is also available to take you to/from Ybor City (entertainment area) so you may want to combine your visit with some of the activities available in this area.
Tampa Residents: It takes less than two visits to pay for a years pass to the aquarium, so buy the pass the first time you visit and use it throughout the year. The pass also offers free/discounted entrance to other area attractions and is well worth the money. If you are going to buy the pass, do it before you park and save the parking fee (parking is free to members).
The Florida Aquarium is a fairly small aquarium (I live in Monterey, CA – I’m aquarium spoiled) right outside downtown Tampa. The aquarium has exhibits that show the local sea life in fresh water rivers and streams as well as the Gulf of Mexico.
We visited on a fairly crowded day and it was difficult to observe some of the exhibits, but we managed to see most of the fish and sea critters. The entire aquarium can be experienced in a couple of hours depending on how crowded it is.
We enjoyed watching the river otters and water fowl. The large reef exhibit was a relaxing place to sit and watch the fish go by. The shark exhibit looked interesting, but the viewing area is small and it was quite crowded the day we were there.
The Florida Aquarium’s hours are 9:30AM-5:00PM daily. Tickets are $17.95 for adults, $14.95 for seniors, $12.95 for kids ages 3-12 and children 2 & under are free.
Check the website for show schedules and feedings to plan your visit around some of the extras the aquarium offers.
The Florida Aquarium in Tampa opened in 1995 and features a variety of local habitats including wetlands, beaches, coral reefs, and deep sea. Some seven million visitors annually see the 20,000 plant and animals on display. Some of the aquarium highlights include a huge 350 pound grouper, alligators, river otters, sharks, eels and octopus.
Entrance to the aquarium costs about $15 for adults, with a slight discount for AAA members, seniors, and children. Plan a good two or three hours fro your visit, especially if you plan to take the time to visit every exhibit and read the displays. The aquarium is located in Channelside right next to the mall, and has easy access to the Ybor City-St Pete Time Forum streetcar line. There is a convenient parking garage right across the street.
th florida aquarium is located about a mile east of downtown tampa in the channel side district. this interesting aquarium offers sea life and ecological exhibits. a great place to take children when in tampa.
The Florida Aquarium in the Channelside district of Tampa is well worth a visit, and you could spend a whole day there if you take it slow.
Not all areas are wheelchair friendly, but plenty for children and adults to enjoy, and a play area outside and several cafes.
The Florida Aquarium takes you on the journey as a drop rain into the Florida waterways ecosystem. It’s done really well with a marvelous display of local fish and birds.
My favorites are the ray bay and the nurse shark petting area.
There is a touch tank as well for various tidal animals like starfish, and sea urchins.
Outside there is a play area for kids with an ocean theme. Restaurant and gift shop too.
On your way home don't forget to pick up a pamphlet on how to adopt a Florida Aquarium animal. In my opinion that is the best souvenir you can buy.
The Florida Aquarium has grown on me over time, but initially I was unimpressed. I guess that if you aren't from Florida and you haven't seen all this stuff eight million times, it's pretty cool. It just seems like, being in Florida - a state surrounded by and punctuated with water - we would have the most kick-ass aquarium ever. We don't, but it's not a bad place to spend the afternoon.
Some parts that always made me like it, though, are the touch tanks. There's one for coral and anemones and one for sting rays. I dunno why, but I love to touch those things.
**Teachers make sure to bring your I.D. because teachers get in for free. They do not advertise this at all.
The exhibit is set up so that people can follow a drop of rainwater from Florida's swamps to the open Gulf, meeting all the creatures along the way. The aquarium houses various exhibits. There are some tanks which are open to the air with real trees, plants and birds above it. The aquarium also has shows thoughout the day. Go to their website for a 2$ off ticket if it is still there. Someone in the line in front of me had a buy one get one ticket so check those tampa tourist magazines, it may be available in one of those.
The Florida Aquarium is housed in an interesting glass-domed building and is organized around an interesting concept: tailing a drop of water. Visitors follow that precious fluid from one on Florida's many natural springs through swamps and rivers to a bay and finally the open water. Along the way, you meet all the creatures that call that water home.
There are several highlights on the journey, the best of which is probably the swamp section. Walking out from the cave where the spring emerged, you suddenly find yourself under a high glass dome with real mangrove and cypress trees arching above, real egrets and spoonbills flying freely over your head. On the ground, your path winds between wide shallow tanks about 4 feet tall, allowing you to see the animals in the water (like catfish), on the water (like ducks), and both (like turtles and otters). They're so close you can touch them (though signs advise you not to).
The beach is also pretty cool. A long tank gives you a cross-section of a slowly sloping sandy beach with lots of sting rays and other fish in the shallow water and a few (real) seagulls on the sand.
The huge coral reef tank is also impressive and is best seen through the wide glass wall.
The aquarium also has a large kid's play area outside. Be sure to bring a bathing suit since many of the activities involve water. (It's an aquarium -- what do you expect? :)
As a side note, food prices here are more reasonable than most similar attractions.
It'll take 2-4 hours to see everything. Since the aquarium can get pretty crowded on weekend afternoons, go in the morning if possible.
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