Our family visited the Florida Aquarium in Tampa back in August and my three year-old is still talking about it! For such a little one to hold on to that experience lets me know that this is something other people need to know about…
I took hundreds of pictures during this trip ~ I hope you enjoy a few of them.
Walking in, the kids were immediately excited. All our little guy wanted to see was some sharks! Sharks, sharks, sharks… we had to find them. Of course, everyone always wants to see the sharks and they are never the first exhibit you can get to.
We raced through almost every exhibit in the place before we finally made it to the sharks. (Gotta save the best for last, right?… not when you have an anxious three year-old!) Thankfully, once we made it to the sharks we were able to slow down a little bit. We caught a shark show at the main shark tank. I loved that they allowed the wee ones to get right up on the glass during the show. They spoke, answered questions, interacted with everyone and never made us feel rushed. (I have extreme dislike for shows at these places sometimes. I feel like they rush the guest out too quickly – like cattle.)
Since the shark exhibit was the last exhibit in the place, we opted to make one more round before we left. I am SO glad we opted to do this because there was a lot of great sea life we would have missed out on. Two of my favorites were the Seahorses and Jellyfish! Yes, the smallest little creatures – we were fascinated with them. They have the strangest looking seahorses! For a few moments I didn’t even realize I was looking at a seahorse. Do you see them?
Who Loved What:
Well, as I am sure you have already guessed, my husband and three year-old’s favorite exhibit was the sharks. They loved how peaceful the shark tunnel was and sat there for several minutes while the rest of our bunch moved on with other exhibits that caught their attention.
My oldest son’s favorite was the jellyfish. He said this was quite shocking to him, since he is very fearful of jellies from his jellyfish sting last summer that landed him in the hospital! He now wants an entire tankful of jellyfish for his own home one day.
My middle daughter enjoyed the otter exhibit the most. She thought their playfulness was fun to watch…. that said, the rest of us were pretty sure the other otters were trying to kill one of their friends. I actually pushed my kids along because it was not as playful as it first appeared.
My oldest daughter and her friends enjoyed the hands-on exhibits the most. They were able to pet stingray, horseshoe crabs, sea urchins, and sea stars. Feeling how cold the summer temperature of the water in Alaska was rather shocking!… and to think, we Floridians once had the great idea of moving there -Ha!
I agree with the girls, the hands-on exhibits at the Florida Aquarium were wonderful. I was thrilled to see we were not being charged extra for them. I can’t tell you how many places we have visited over the years that will charge extra for these experiences. We have five children and cannot afford to pay for extras during our travels- it is heartbreaking sometimes. It was such a relief to know that our children were able to enjoy a hands-on learning experience included with our general admission at the Florida Aquarium.
Recommendations, Thoughts, & Additional Information:
Please don’t overlook this Aquarium on your visit to Central Florida. Especially if you have little ones. The Aquarium is the perfect size for families to enjoy the day without feeling rushed and stressed by volumes of other guests. We visited from the early morning hours until mid-afternoon. There were a few features that we didn’t get to that you may want to consider during your trip:
- They have a, two acre, outdoor water playground. Our children were not dressed appropriately for it, but they offer that during the warm months. It is also not a service permitted to those visiting under a group, school, or homeschool discount rate.
- Children, ages six and up, can swim with the fish in the aquarium! This is something we are considering for one of our girl’s birthday gift as there is a $75 fee associated with this experience. (Fee includes your Aquarium admission!)
- Teens & Adults can dive with the SHARKS! My oldest daughter is in LOVE with this idea and is already begging for her sweet sixteen present! This experience is only available to certified scuba divers, ages 15 and older. The $175 fee associated with it includes your aquarium admission and t-shirt.
What is your favorite underwater creature?
*No Disclaimer Necessary: Our family paid for our admission to the Florida Aquarium and has received NO compensation from them or their associates in return for this article.