Since 1995, the Florida Aquarium in Tampa has been showcasing the beauty of our planet’s oceans, rivers and lakes. Here, diverse marine ecosystems are displayed behind glass walls. In addition, guests can dive with sharks, play zookeeper in the penguin habitat, enjoy family-friendly infotainment at the 4D cinema, and splash around on the water playground.
The Florida Aquarium is located in Downtown Tampa’s Channel District, right next to the Hillsborough River.
ANIMALS AT THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM
The 7.000 plants and animals are the aquarium’s main attraction. At the “Wetland Trails” everything revolves around Florida’s native species. Here, you cannot only watch fish otters gliding through the water. The authentically designed mangrove habitat also houses pelicans, spoonbills and the Sunshine State’s famous alligators.
“Madagascar” presents the diverse wildlife of Africa’s largest island. Playful lemurs are swinging from branch to branch in a true-to-life replica of the island’s jungles. Smaller inhabitants like Madagascar tortoises and giant cockroaches can be spotted in glass terrariums.
If you always wanted to pet a stingray, you can do so at the “Bays and Beaches” zone with its touch pool. In the open ocean, the aquarium’s 300 pound grouper would be a highly sought-after trophy for fishermen. Here, the giant shares his habitat with bizarre toadfish, aptly named lookdowns and spindly garden eels. In this strange underwater world, green turtles are the most normal-looking animals.
Fans of documentaries like “Planet Earth” might already know the luminescent jellyfish called Moon Jellies. At the Moon Bay, you cannot only see these animals up-close, but also touch them. The “No Bones Zone” houses equally fascinating creatures, among them colorful starfish, anemones, sea cucumbers and sea urchins.
The Florida Aquarium takes great pride in its tiger sharks. These marine predators populate an aquarium that holds a whopping 500 gallons of water – together with silvery barracudas. Other aquariums are tilted inwards. This way, you can look up and watch swarms of fish and huge manta rays glide past you. Australian seahorses are found at “Dragons Down Under”, and fans of “Finding Nemo” can admire colorful clownfish in the “Waves of Wonder” zone.
In addition, the Florida Aquarium also houses:
- Nurse Sharks
- Moray Eels
MORE ATTRACTIONS AT THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM
Not only fish are allowed to swim at the Florida Aquarium. At the Splash Pads, an extensive water playground, little guests can splash around with fun fountains and master a jungle gym with obstacle courses. Visitors who want to get up-close to their favorite animals should book the Swim & Dive to snorkel with giant groupers, turtles and (harmless) sharks.
If you want to explore the open ocean while keeping your feet dry, you should have a seat at the 4D cinema. In addition to life-like 3D effects, splashes, fog, wind, artificial snow and even smells will take you on a journey to exotic lands. Adults can go on a virtual dive with Great White Sharks, and children follow the cute Octonauts on their trip to the Amazon.
By the way: Even though the aquarium does not house dolphins, fans of the gentle mammals have come to the right place. Two times a day, visitors can join the Wild Dolphin Cruise for 17 USD and observe groups of playful dolphins off-shore. If you want to pet, feed and learn more about cute penguins, you should purchase the Penguins: Backstage Pass for 31 USD.
On the Behind the Scenes Tour for 12.50 USD, visitors get to know the hidden side of the aquarium. All activities can be booked online together with regular tickets.
OPENING HOURS AND TICKETS AT THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM
The aquarium is open daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm. On-site parking costs 5.50 USD.
Online ticket prices depend on the day of your visit and how many days you book in advance. Tickets for adults range between 25–31 USD. Children aged 3–11 receive a discount of 4 USD, senior citizens pay 2 USD less, and children aged 3 or under visit the aquarium for free.
If you want to get 54% off your ticket, you should buy the Tampa City Pass. With this pass you can also visit the theme-park Busch Gardens, ZooTampa and the Museum of Industry & Science.
EVENTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS AT THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM
Thanks to a jam-packed event calendar, there is always something going on at the Florida Aquarium. Visitors who are interested in marine ecosystems and the conservation of species should visit the Evening Tide Talks. And if you want to have a nice workout before the aquarium opens, you can sign up for the Yoga class “Flow with the Fishes”.
On Halloween, the Florida Aquarium attracts visitors with its spooky decoration. In addition, children can go trick-or-treating, watch divers carve pumpkins underwater and receive 50% off their entrance fee if they come fully costumed.
The aquarium is also a perfect place for gourmands: During the Sea Grapes, Wine and Food Festival in April, guests can try more than 100 fine wines, as well as culinary treats provided by local restaurants. And if an ice-cold stout or lager is for you, then you should visit the Brews by the Bay festival with more than 100 sorts of beer.
Of course, guests can also host their own event at the Florida Aquarium – from birthday parties and corporate events to conferences and weddings. And if you are looking for some lavish fun on the water, you can rent the aquarium’s party boat.
DIRECTIONS TO THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM IN TAMPA
The Florida Aquarium can be reached from Tampa Airport in about 20 minutes. Guests in Sarasota need 60 minutes, and getting there from Cape Coral takes about 2 hours.