When Lisa and I planned our Tampa trip, we both zeroed in on The Florida Aquarium. After all, shouldn’t it be a great place to see all kinds of sea and fresh water animals? Manatees? Dolphins? Sharks? Gators and crocs? You will see a lot of different water animals than you will in the Midwest. However, manatees and dolphins aren’t among the animals at the Florida Aquarium. I was a little bummed. But, honestly, for someone who researches trips up and down and inside and out, you would have thought I’d have realized that. Nevertheless, it didn’t deter me from having a great time.
Initially, I thought the aquarium was geared more toward families with younger children. While it’s a great place for families, adults without kids will have a good time, also.
We met our friend Jamie there. Jamie and her family moved to the Tampa a few years ago. It was great spending time with her and having a pseudo guide for a couple of attractions.
The Florida Aquarium includes wildlife from the state’s ecosystems, as well as international – Florida wetlands trail, coral reefs, bays and beaches and Madagascar.
The wetland trails is the first area visitors encounter. Here, you can see several animals on exhibit, including alligators, otters, snakes and birds.
A mangrove exhibit piqued my interest. I loved the way trees and vegetation grow in the water and the creatures the area attracts.
I have a friend whose daughter is a huge turtle fan, so I like to get photos of them whenever I can and let her know about it, in case she wants a copy.
After the Florida wetlands trail, we ventured across the world to Penguin Point. The aquarium’s newest attraction is home to South African Black-footed penguins. The cool thing about this attraction is that you can stand above the penguin exhibit on a boardwalk.
Since we were “in” Africa, we checked out the lemurs. They did basically the same thing they do at the Omaha zoo, huddle together and sleep…a lot. LOL. Lemurs are some of the cutest creatures in the world.
We enjoy seeing the different shapes and colors coral reefs provide. The sea life is amazing to watch, as the fish swim among beautiful colors.
The Bay and Beaches section of the aquarium presented interesting views. We watched a large Grouper fish swim among the rocks of the sea bottom. The fish was huge – several hundreds of pounds huge!
We checked out some more fish in the aquarium. Each fish is pretty in its own way. It’s amazing how many fish there are in the world and how different they can look from one another.
The aquarium has a floor to ceiling aquarium. It’s amazing to watch. The different fish and animals inside the tank present a great show. People stood in front of the tank for several minutes at a time, taking in the view.
Not to be content with having that beautiful exhibit, The Florida Aquarium had a great underwater tunnel. Here, you can see all types of sea life co-existing. Of course, you have sharks. They are beautiful creatures.
As I mentioned earlier, the aquarium is a great place for families with young children. It has an interactive touch tank, where kids (and adults) can touch sting rays, horseshoe crabs, urchins and snails.
I suggest grabbing lunch at the aquarium. The food is good and reasonably priced. The three of us ate burgers and fries and had a soda, all for about $30. That’s not a bad price for a major attraction. Plus, we didn’t have to wait in line, etc.
After lunch, kids can work off some energy at the two-acre splash park.
If you are interested in seeing dolphins (and maybe a manatee or two), you can always sign up for a dolphin cruise through the aquarium. I’d be interested in doing that next trip.
SUGGESTION: For possible discounts on admission tickets, check online. Tickets purchased online are a tad less expensive than buying onsite. Also, if you’re interested in both the aquarium and dolphin cruise, discounts are offered online. Also, if you have a zoo or aquarium membership, check to see if you get a discount through reciprocal agreements (Omaha’s zoo and aquarium has an arrangement with The Florida Aquarium).
We enjoyed our visit to the aquarium. We recommend visiting it.
For more information on the aquarium, please visit www.flaquarium.org.
Disclaimer: Thank you to The Florida Aquarium for the complimentary passes. However, all opinions and views are ours.