About the Florida Aquarium in Tampa

Situated in the heart of downtown Tampa, The Florida Aquarium stands as a cornerstone of education and adventure, drawing visitors from all walks of life. This 250,000-square-foot venue offers a mesmerizing journey through various ecosystems, showcasing thousands of animals and plants. A trip to The Florida Aquarium not only entertains but educates, making it a must-visit for families and enthusiasts alike.

Since opening its doors in 1995, the aquarium has continued to impress with its thoughtfully designed exhibits and welcoming atmosphere. Positioned along Tampa’s award-winning Riverwalk and near the historic Ybor City, the location makes it incredibly convenient for a fun-filled day exploring the city’s cultural and natural attractions.

Committed to conservation and education, The Florida Aquarium goes beyond being just a tourist destination. It holds a prestigious accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, denoting its leadership in supporting environmental programs. Whether you’re passionate about marine life conservation or simply looking for an engaging and educational outing, The Florida Aquarium provides an enriching experience for all.

Exploring Exhibits

The Florida Aquarium in Tampa features various immersive exhibits providing a close look at diverse aquatic life, from coral reefs to wetlands. Visitors can engage with unique environments, each offering a mix of notable species and interactive experiences.

Coral Reefs and Marine Habitats

In this section, visitors can explore vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful fish, sharks, and stingrays. This exhibit showcases the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. The intricate arrangements of living corals offer a habitat for species such as clownfish, anemones, and moray eels.

Interactive touch pools provide a chance to feel various marine creatures, enhancing the educational experience. This section highlights the need for coral conservation and the impact of human activity on marine life.

Journey to Madagascar

The Journey to Madagascar exhibit focuses on the unique wildlife from this island. Visitors encounter lemurs, chameleons, and the distinct fulvous whistling duck.

A highlight is the colony of playful penguins that delight guests with their antics. This exhibit emphasizes the diverse ecosystems of Madagascar and the importance of preserving these habitats. Educational displays on conservation efforts provide valuable insights into the challenges faced by these species.

Wetlands Trail

The expanded Wetlands Trail takes visitors on an adventure through Floridian ecosystems. Encounter alligators in swampy waters and observe river otters playing in streams. This exhibit simulates a walk through native wetlands, complete with lush vegetation and flowing water.

Birdwatchers can appreciate a variety of waterfowl and songbirds in their natural settings. Educational panels provide details about the role of wetlands in environmental health and the species that inhabit these areas.

Bays and Beaches

Bays and Beaches bring the coastal experience indoors. This exhibit features species commonly found in shallow waters and shorelines, such as sea turtles and stingrays. Visitors can observe the behaviors of these animals in environments mimicking sandy beaches and rocky shorelines.

Touch tanks allow for hands-on interaction with sea creatures like starfish and hermit crabs. This exhibit underscores the significance of coastal ecosystems and the threats they face from pollution and habitat destruction.

Visitor Information

The Florida Aquarium in Tampa offers a range of amenities and services tailored to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable visit. Below, you’ll find details on ticketing, operating hours, and available amenities and access points.

Ticketing and Membership

Admission tickets for The Florida Aquarium can be purchased online or at the entrance. Prices vary based on age groups:

  • Adults: $32.95
  • Children (ages 3-11): $27.95
  • Seniors: $30.95
  • Children under 3: Free

Booking online can provide savings and quicker access. Membership options are also available, offering unlimited visits, guest passes, and discounts on special programs and events. The CityPass® can be another budget-friendly option, granting admission to multiple Tampa Bay attractions.

Hours of Operation

The Florida Aquarium is generally open daily from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM. However, hours of operation can vary on holidays or special events. It’s advisable to check the aquarium’s official website before planning a visit. Special programs, such as the Wild Dolphin Cruise, have specific schedules and require reservations. Customer service can provide detailed timings and booking information.

Amenities and Accessibility

The Aquarium features several amenities to enhance the visitor experience, including a cafeteria with a variety of dining options and a splash pad for kids. Families will appreciate the playground and aviary areas, ensuring plenty of activities for children.

Accessibility is a priority, with the aquarium being wheelchair-friendly throughout its premises. Wheelchairs are available at no cost at the Guest Services desk. Additionally, service animals are permitted in the facility. The staff is trained to assist guests with special needs, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the exhibits comfortably.

Remember to plan ahead for parking, which is available on-site but can fill up quickly during peak times.

Educational Opportunities

The Florida Aquarium in Tampa offers a variety of educational experiences designed to engage visitors of all ages. These programs emphasize marine science through interactive and immersive activities while promoting conservation and environmental awareness.

Learning Experience

The Florida Aquarium provides numerous programs to foster learning and curiosity about marine life. Children can participate in AquaTots, a program tailored for ages 3-5, which includes storytime, craft-making, and Aquarium tours. For older children, there are Field Trip Education Programs that blend classroom instruction with hands-on activities led by educators.

Underwater Archaeology, targeted at grades 7-10, teaches the fundamentals of archaeology and explores Florida’s history. This curriculum, supported by the Dorr Foundation, is adaptable for other grade levels. Interactive Adventures, such as guided tours and lab experiences, make learning an immersive journey, providing deeper insights into marine ecosystems.

Conservation Initiatives

Conservation initiatives are a crucial part of The Florida Aquarium’s educational focus. Programs aim to instill a sense of responsibility in participants regarding marine environments. The Aquarium supports various conservation projects to preserve critical habitats and species, often integrating these themes into its educational offerings.

Students and visitors engage in activities that highlight the importance of conservation efforts, such as beach clean-ups and animal rehabilitation programs. The Aquarium also offers talks and presentations on ongoing research initiatives, contributing to a broader conservation education. These efforts are designed to inspire a lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship among participants.

Through a combination of learning experiences and conservation initiatives, The Florida Aquarium provides comprehensive educational opportunities that both enlighten and empower visitors.

Events and Adventures

Visitors to The Florida Aquarium can engage in a mix of educational and entertaining events as well as exciting underwater adventures. These activities provide opportunities to interact with marine life and explore various aquatic ecosystems.

Hands-On Experiences

At The Florida Aquarium, there are several immersive experiences that allow visitors to interact directly with marine animals. The Stingray Petting Area invites guests to touch and feed stingrays, giving them a unique opportunity to connect with these gentle creatures.

Additionally, the SeaTREK program offers underwater walking tours where participants don special helmets and walk along the aquarium’s tanks, surrounded by fish and other marine animals. For those looking for an even more immersive experience, opportunities to swim or dive with sharks and other aquatic species are available.

Regular events, such as guided tours and educational sessions, focus on the various ecosystems and the diverse species that inhabit them. These hands-on experiences make the aquarium visit both educational and memorable for all ages.

Plan Your Visit

When heading to The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, visitors can enjoy a range of experiences from interactive exhibits to nearby attractions. Planning the visit strategically can enhance the experience, making it both educational and fun for everyone involved.

Best Times to Visit

The Florida Aquarium opens at 9:30 AM and closes at 5:00 PM, allowing visitors ample time to explore. Weekdays are generally less crowded compared to weekends, making it easier to navigate the exhibits. Early mornings or late afternoons are ideal for avoiding peak times.

During the summer months, indoor activities can provide a cool respite from the Florida heat. Rainy days are also great for a visit, as most exhibits are indoors. For families with kids, mid-week visits during the school year can offer a quieter environment. Purchasing tickets in advance, especially through programs like CityPASS® Tickets, can save both time and money.

Nearby Attractions

Located in Downtown Tampa, the aquarium is close to several other popular attractions. Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay and ZooTampa at Lowry Park are both part of the CityPASS® ticket bundle, providing a full day of activities for families. Nearby, The Tropics Boat Tours offer dolphin or sunset cruises for those looking to explore Tampa’s waterways.

The MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) and Glazer Children’s Museum are also great for educational experiences. The aquarium itself is home to Morph’d and the Mosaic Exhibit Hall, offering interactive exhibits that highlight the natural environment and sea creatures.


Several accommodation options in Downtown Tampa provide convenient access to The Florida Aquarium. Budget-friendly hotels like the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tampa or the more luxurious Tampa Marriott Water Street ensure a comfortable stay regardless of the budget.

For visitors looking for unique family experiences, many hotels offer packages that include aquarium tickets or shuttle services. Checking for deals on Tripadvisor or the aquarium’s website can provide additional savings. Some accommodations also feature pools and outdoor water play zones, making them ideal for families traveling with kids who may want to cool off after a day of exploration.

Jerry Joyce

Jerry Joyce has been a Florida resident since 1988 and has lived in a variety of places in the South Florida area. Jerry is an avid boater & water sports enthusiast, beach aficionado, a lover of great food, muscle car fan and a theme park annual passholder for many years. Some of his favorite places in Florida include the Florida Keys, Walt Disney World, Cedar Key, the Loxahatchee River, St. Augustine and Ten Thousand islands.

Recent Posts