Since opening in 1995, the Florida Aquarium has been delighting visitors with its more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals from Florida and beyond. The 250,000-square-foot facility has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and its innovative design received recognition when it was placed on the American Institute of Architects’ “Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places” list in 2012.
The first thing that really puts the Florida Aquarium on the map are its exhibits. By giving a home to everything from river otters and sharks to penguins and stingrays, the aquarium will have always have something that interests even the pickiest person. For people who are interested in having an especially intense experience, the aquarium also offers special thing to do like diving with the sharks and swimming with the fishes. (You must be six or older to swim with the fishes and 15 or older to swim with the sharks.)
The Florida Aquarium also offers a variety of educational and entertaining shows at different times throughout the day. Guests can listen to scuba divers speak about the importance of coral reefs or get an up close and personal look at endangered penguins during daily Penguin Promenades.
For fans of the most intelligent mammal in the world (aside from humans of course) there is a Wild Dolphin Adventure Cruise that departs from the aquarium on a daily basis - as long as the weather is decent. The 90-minute cruise gives visitors a chance to check out some of the 500 wild dolphins that swim in the bay near Tampa while riding on a 72-foot catamaran.
Another option is going on a Behind the Scenes Adventure at the aquarium. Learn about how employees feed the animals and find out the secret about where the water in the exhibits at the aquarium really comes from. As an added bonus, guests will have the chance to even feed a few of the animals.
In addition to being home to numerous exhibits, shows and adventure possibilities, the Florida Aquarium also has a unique feature called “Explore A Shore.” In the Explore A Shore zone, kids have the opportunity to chill out in an a two-acre outdoor water adventure area while adult can take a breather at a Cantina bar and grill. The win-win situation lets parents grab a bite and a refreshing drink while their children play with water cannons, geyser and climb a pirate ship.
Here’s an example of what people are saying about their experience at the aquarium:
“Spent a great day there with the kids today. Lots of interesting sea life on display, easy to navigate displays, and a few guides available who are all too willing to discuss what you're looking at,” wrote one reviewer. “The splash park is a nice addition.”
“The shark tank is one of the most stunning and serene places I have ever seen. You literally can just get lost in the beauty and monotony of watching these incredible creatures glide through the water,” wrote someone else. “There are many other great and family friendly activities and rooms to explore here. There is a sting ray petting area, I think they feel like a soggy mushroom. A seashore exhibit and a section dedicated to all marine life with their skeletons on the outside (lobsters, etc).. Along the walls are many educational facts and small aquariums that display wild exotic fish.”