This post was created with TripAdvisor. Thanks for sponsoring our trip to the Florida Aquarium!
The Florida Aquarium opened in 1995, and I was in the fifth grade. It became a local favorite quickly, and I remember spending a few field trips there. Now that I’m a parent, I knew my son would love the aquarium just as much as I did when I was a kid. What surprised me most was just how BIG the aquarium felt this time around and how many attractions had been added since the last time I visited.
How to Book
We were able to easily book online with TripAdvisor. If you are traveling to the Tampa area, check TripAdvisor! There are a lot of reviews to help you plan your time here, and I spend a lot of time researching local attractions. I grew up in Florida, but there are more restaurants, hotels, and things to do popping up constantly. It helps to have all of my favorite city’s research in one place. There were reviews to help me pick just what type of excursion I wanted, and I felt comforted knowing TripAdvisor had my back. If anything had happened, they are a trusted brand who can help.
Since we had pre-purchased tickets, we could sail right on through the entrance. People were lining up before the aquarium opened, so this was helpful. They do check your bags upon entry, so give yourself a few extra minutes if you are trying to make it inside by a certain time.
Want to Go Scuba Diving With Sharks?
While you can “choose your own adventure” once inside, there is a natural path that you can take. The habitats are laid out to show the journey of a drop of water from Florida’s freshwater springs to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You can find alligators and birds, and hop to a “Journey to Madagascar” and find lemurs. Admire seahorses, stingrays, and sharks as you walk through each exhibit. My son enjoyed the stingray touch tank, and you can see his reaction in the video below!
Know Before You Go
I didn’t plan in advance very well. It was a slightly cooler day here in Tampa, so I didn’t even think about the splash pad. Florida never stays cold for very long, so it was hot by lunchtime. My son wanted to skip and run through the water fountains, but we did not have a bathing suit ready.
Be sure to pack water shoes and a bathing suit if you even think you might use this attraction.
The 4D Theater was a fun surprise. Some of the showings were full, so if this is on your must-do list, be sure to scope out the crowd and plan ahead.
Use the daily schedule to help. We were able to get up close and personal with a penguin and had fun participating in a sealife “game show.”
Yes, they do have good food to eat. I never think that local attractions like this will have food worth eating, but there was a wide variety of options.
Give yourself at least two hours to enjoy the aquarium.
We had a good time going through the exhibits (some of them we walked through multiple times), and I think my son is the perfect age to sign up for a family membership. My son is five, and he will never tire of seeing the animals or exploring the splash pad. The aquarium is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.