Florida Aquarium Tampa
If you're looking for things to do on a Tampa vacation that revolve around wildlife or are family friendly, consider stopping by the aquarium. The aquarium in Tampa Florida is ranked by as one of the top ten aquariums in the country and is listed in the top five by Parents Magazine as being a kid-friendly attraction. It's also a world-class aquarium with species of plants and animals from around the world.
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium is one of Tampa's popular attractions for adults and children. Not only do visitors have the opportunity to interact with aquatic animals and their habitat, the aquarium is within walking distance of Riverwalk that encompasses over 2 miles of the waterfront with parks, museums and shopping venues along the way.
At the Florida Aquarium, visitors can observe more than 20,000 varieties of marine life including fish, mammals, turtles, invertebrates, and plant life in entertaining and educational formats. Through several exhibits at the facility, you can learn about aquatic animals and their habitats in a variety of ways.
The Wetlands exhibit, for example, tells the story of water by following a drop from its source all the way to the sea, with free-flight birds, river otters, and alligators along the way. At Bays and Beaches, you'll learn about the aquatic animals that inhabit Tampa Bay, along with watching videos and observing habitat exhibits that include a variety of interesting creatures such as sea turtles, lobsters, seahorses, stingrays, sharks, angelfish, and a 300-pound grouper.
Visitors to the Florida Aquarium can even participate in the 30-minute Swim with the Fishes interactive program, which provides an opportunity for children to learn about the world beneath the water without ever leaving the surface. The in-water encounter requires a scuba tank, regulator, goggles, certified scuba diver and a flotation device that keeps the child on the surface at all times. Children learn the basics of scuba diving and discover the wonders of the 2,300 fish that inhabit the waters in the safety of a manmade coral reef.
Tampa Bay Aquarium
Certified scuba divers ages 15 and older can dive with the sharks at the Tampa aquarium when participating in the 90-minute interactive program that includes a presentation and a 30-minute dive at Shark Bay. The 93,000-gallon saltwater tank is filled with a variety of shark species and sea turtles from all over the world, and it gives divers the opportunity for up-close observation. Divers enter the exhibit accompanied by two master divers who are there to keep both visitors and marine life safe.
Another popular tour at the aquarium in Tampa Florida is the Wild Dolphin Eco-tour, which takes visitors on a 90-minute adventure into Tampa Bay aboard the Bay Spirit. They learn about the importance of the bay in providing habitats for endangered manatees and numerous birds, some threatened or endangered, and about the impact the bay and man has on their lives.
Aquarium in Tampa
If you're with your family, a popular and fun activity for anyone at the aquarium in Tampa Florida has visitors participating in the Penguin Promenades interaction show, which features the aquarium's resident African Black-foot penguins mingling with the guests—with no walls or barriers between you and them. The one-hour Behind the Scenes Tour for children ages 5 and older explains food preparation for all of the animals and includes time to observe Coral Reef and Shark Bay. The two-hour Shark Feeding Tour, which is for children 12 and older, actually prepares food and feeds the sharks; reservations are required for the feeding tour.
Florida Aquarium Map
In fact, the Florida Aquarium has many exhibits and interactive areas for kids, such as Explore a Shore. This two-acre area has an interactive two-story pirate ship, waterslides, water jet sprays, geysers, a rock-climbing wall, caves, and tunnels to entertain and cool off the kids.
For younger children and toddlers visiting the Tampa Bay aquarium, Shipwreck Shore and Ocean Commotion, which have interactive and animated exhibits, provide educational exhibits and activities, plus a chance to have fun. The No Bone Zone at the Tampa aquarium provides children with an opportunity to explore a selection on invertebrates in two separate water tanks. Visitors have a hands-on experience with mollusks, clams, crabs, sea urchins, and corals to get a feel for these marine creatures.
For visitors planning the best time and when to go to the Tampa Bay aquarium, the facility is open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm and closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas day.