The Florida Aquarium is one of the most popular children and family entertainment as well as an educational facility in the country. It is counted amongst the finest aquariums in the country with more than 200,000 square feet of exhibits and 20,000 different marine plants and animals.
The facility offers a wonderful blend of marine exhibits, shows, special experiences and an expansive outdoor play area. Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay is the perfect place to spend a day full of fun and learning experiences.
The aquarium itself is divided into 8 broad sections out of which 7 are Florida Aquarium exhibits and one is a spacious spray park and play area which is the Florida Aquarium Splash Pad. Besides the exciting exhibits, there are daily shows and interactive games that teach as well as entertain.
Add a touch of adventure to your Aquarium visit with exciting activities like diving with the sharks. Other special experiences include touch tanks for moon jellies, rays, close encounters with African Penguins and a wild dolphin cruise.
The Florida Aquarium is also actively participating in the conservation of the marine ecosystem with programs such as Coral Conservation programs, Shark and Ray Conservation Programs, Sea Turtle Conservation Programs and lots more.
You can be a part of these programs by joining the various volunteer programs, internships, outreach programs and several other online and in-person learning opportunities.
Over and above these the aquarium also has other facilities ranging from organizing weddings, birthday parties, regular social events, field trips, sleepovers and so much more.
The Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay truly lives up to its mission to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship of the natural environment.
Visit their official website to learn about the incredible job they do: https://www.flaquarium.org/
Florida Aquarium Interesting Facts
There are some interesting facts about the Florida Aquarium in Tampa that adds to its charm
- This aquarium was inaugurated in March 1995 but it was a private enclosure back then. In 1999, it became a public-private partnership after the Tampa city government took over its debt responsibility.
- There are over 20,000 different aquatic plants and animals inside this facility.
- While this aquarium does operate well as an entertainment centre, it also doubles as a research facility. In fact, there are active rescue efforts visible for the conservation of aquatic life like sharks and coral reefs. They have rescued many types of animals since their inception and this continues to date.
- Florida Aquarium has made a partnership with Zoo Tampa to form a joint initiative called Tampa’s ZooQuarium. This endeavor is well-liked by visitors for its exciting dual features and showcases.
- In terms of educating the youth, this aquarium holds no bounds either. To date, this facility has hosted many school trips and projects from different schools, institutions as well as homeschool groups. The average number of students who have benefited with knowledge from here is around 1.7 million students and counting.
- The Florida Aquarium has its name in the ‘Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places.’ list of the Florida Chapter in AIA.
- There are many educational programs that the Florida Aquarium in Tampa sponsors. Evening Tide Talks is one of the most popular programs that allow celebrated explorers, scientists, researchers, and photographers to give lectures.
Special Highlights of the Florida Aquarium
There is much to see and enjoy at this amazing aquarium in Tampa, starting from events to activities. Every year, tourists and locals alike visit this awesome facility to view and learn about the different animals and fishes.
Major highlights of the Florida Aquarium are:
The Galleries of the Aquarium –
The Florida Aquarium is divided into four main galleries, each having its own significance. The divisions are:
- Wetlands is a section where visitors can explore the different variety of fish, animals and birds from the state’s marshes, streams, rivers and mangroves.
- The Coral Reef replicates the waters of Keys and features the colorful corals found in these regions. This is also the largest exhibit in this aquarium.
- The Bays and Beaches section showcases marine lives found around the Tampa Bay region.
- Ocean commotion is an interactive gallery where visitors get to explore and learn about the various life forms in the oceans across the globe.
Outdoor Water Zone
The aquarium also has an exciting waterpark for children of all age groups which is spread across 2 acres of land. There are sprays, water buckets and lots of fun activities for children of all age groups.
Special Weekend Features
The Florida Aquarium organizes special weekends where certified divers from 15-years-and-up can dive with sharks. And the younger ones, from 6 and above can go swimming with fishes too, but under supervision.
The Florida Aquarium understands and respects the need for educating the young ones. There are educator programs and field trips for children grades Pre-K to 8 that give hands-on training on the various aspects of marine science. They meet the FCAT benchmarks and allow exciting plans like lab programs, scavenger hunts, and lessons.
Single ZooQuarium Ticket
This is a fun special feature at this aquarium. Using just one ticket, you can visit two of the most iconic locations; the above-mentioned aquarium and ZooTampa.
Another interesting highlight of this aquarium is that it provides camping opportunities. You can organize both summer camps and School Year camps within the premises of the Aquarium for different ages.
Students can enjoy watching and learning about the different Florida aquarium plants and animals. It is a very hands-on experience and students learn more about the lifestyle of the aquatic creatures and their environments.
The Florida Aquarium Tampa Bay offers a wide range of exciting activities such as the Wild Dolphin Cruise, waddling with the penguins, swimming with the sharks, touching the moon jellies and so much more. There are interactive games as well included with your Florida Aquarium ticket prices.
4-D Movie Experience
Watch an informative and entertaining film in the 4D theatre in high definition 3D and 4 D experiences such as snow, wind, mist, vibrations, sounds, etc.
One of the most spectacular features of this aquarium is the mermaids. That’s right, Florida Aquarium Mermaids! There are three mermaids in the Florida Aquarium staff who are divers by day and perform for guests by night in their colorful costumes complete with iridescent tails and all.
After exploring everything that the Florida Aquarium Tampa has to offer, stop by the Florida Aquarium gift shop and take a look at the various things that it has for sale.
Pick souvenirs for your friends or for yourself. You can choose from a whole variety of books on fish and other aquatic animals, jewellery, artworks, etc.
Florida Aquarium Reciprocal City Admission program
This aquarium is part of the AZA Reciprocal Admissions Program and with the Florida Aquarium reciprocity visitors can enjoy benefits of admission to several other participating zoos and aquariums.
Florida Aquarium Orlando, Florida Aquarium Clearwater, Florida Aquarium Miami, Florida Aquarium Jacksonville are all part of this Reciprocal Admissions Program.
Interesting Events and Socials at Florida Aquarium
While there is always something intriguing happening at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, there are special events that are specially organized for the visitors. They are fun tours or functions that visitors get to enjoy together with their families and friends. They include:
One of the most celebrated Florida aquarium events in 2019 at this aquarium is the SeaGrapes Wine and Food Event. Amalie Motor Oil organizes and presents this event each year. The main aim of this event is to raise interest and funds for the many programs in the aquarium.
These include conservation efforts, educational initiatives, and animal care practices.
The Sea Grapes Florida aquarium 2019 had over 30 of the finest restaurants in Florida in the event with over 150 different varieties of the finest wines from around the world. It was one of the most talked-about events of the year held at the aquarium.
There were special recipes prepared by renowned chefs for the guests to try. The guests enjoyed the live music from exciting musical legends and got a special tour through the facility.
Also, they get the opportunity to take part in a silent auction which is entirely exclusive. Personal celebrations are also possible here, for the VIP guests, who enjoy early admission to the SeaGrapes festival.
The tickets are costly though, at $125 for general entry and $275 for VIP. But it would be good to remember that this is all for a good cause. There is an age limit as well, the lowest being 21 years.
New Year’s Eve
One of the most anticipated events at the aquarium was the Florida Aquarium New Year’s Event 2019. From champagne toasts to live performances; it was a night to remember.
Another event that was organized here in association with other organizations was the Florida aquarium Swaptember. This is a scientific and research-based program with MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) and ZooTampa at Lowry Park.
Washed Ashore – Art to Save the Sea
This event was held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Florida Aquarium. This extraordinary artistic exhibit features the hazardous effects of plastic pollution on seas, oceans and other water bodies along with its inhabitants.
Brews By The Bay
Florida Aquarium Brews by the Bay is a fundraising event organized each year to support the aquarium’s conservation and research programs. It is a celebration of the ocean and its inhabitants.
The event features over 100 different brews from the Pepin distribution Company. This is an adults-only event. Most of the Aquarium habitats will be open excluding the Moon Bay area.
Special Florida aquarium valentine’s day celebrations are organized each year at the Aquarium. The event starts at 7 pm with a stroll beside the different galleries in the aquarium. This is followed by a candlelight dinner at 8 pm.
The night is made even more special when your table is surrounded by the most beautiful of marine animals in their exhibits such as turtles, stingrays and more. Other activities include Leap with the Fishes, Workout by the Water, among others.
The Florida aquarium fish expo 2019 is not a party but more on the lines of bringing about an awareness about the various aspects of the ocean world. Visitors get the chance to learn more about different varieties of fish through a show.
Expert marine biologists and other experts give lectures on the different topics related to the ocean’s ecosystem.
Sips Under the Sea
Florida aquarium sips under the sea is an exclusive adults-only cocktail party where you can enjoy the wonders of the Florida Aquarium after hours. The event starts at 7 pm. Your ticket includes full access to inspiring experiences such as animal encounters, a signature drink, a wide variety of tasty appetizers and a candy buffet with Swedish Fish
For those interested in safeguarding the natural environment and the marine lifestyle, this aquarium provides many volunteer programs.
The main criterion for admission is simple; interest and passion for conserving the Oceans. A Florida aquarium volunteer would learn during the course how to entertain and educate the masses and help with the conservation process.
There are many areas and scopes where you can apply depending on your interests. These include Conservation and Special Events, Education, Dive, Cownose Cove, and Guest Services. Plus, you can also apply for Teen Education, Husbandry, or Corporate and Group volunteer programs.
The admission fees in this aquarium are generally very cost-effective. But you would also get coupons for Florida aquarium from many sites. One of the most trusted websites where you can apply for such is Groupon.
- The entry fee plan for General Admissions at the Florida Aquarium is simple. For an adult, the price is $21.95, and a child from 2 to 12 years is $16.95. Kids lower than that can get in free.
- Senior citizens can apply for a Florida Aquarium veteran discount and enjoy further discounts on the price of the Florida Aquarium tickets, the general cost for which is $18.95.
- Regarding educational tours, teachers can opt for a Florida Aquarium teacher pass. But for the most part, they get a free pass if they are organizing a school trip. Students also get an excellent Florida aquarium student discount.
- Those in the military do get a Florida Aquarium military discount. Usually, this ranges from 10%-60% off from their ticket cost when presented with a valid ID.
- A VIP membership at the aquarium gives you a Florida aquarium annual pass. This pass comes with a lot of benefits especially in tickets to the Florida Aquarium as well as freebies to a lot of the events organized at the aquarium.
- During major events like Aquarium Cruises or any combo, the prices are much higher than usual. You can get a Groupon for Florida aquarium to enjoy the maximum price reduction in Florida Aquarium tickets.
- Special ticket combos range from high to low, and you can get the ticket when you reach the venue. You can opt for a Florida Aquarium Groupon to lessen the ticket price. However, these special tickets need advance bookings and the prices may vary.
- Florida aquarium coupons are available in several sites with amazing benefits for different categories.
Regular shows at the Aquarium
This aquarium in Tampa has various shows scheduled on a daily basis that are meant to inform and educate about the unique ecosystem of the Tampa Bay area.
Secret Sea Life Superhero Show
This special show is an interactive show held in the Coral Reef’s Section of the aquarium. The show is dedicated to the conservation of sharks, sea turtles and coral reefs. It shows how human activities are harming the ecological system of the water bodies around the world.
The divers in the tank and the biologists talk about how these three marine lives are the superheroes of the water world. How they help to maintain the ecological balance in the oceans.
The show is included in your tickets for Florida Aquarium general admission. Book your tickets online in advance to enjoy some spectacular Florida Aquarium tickets discount.
Daily Multi-sensory shows at the 4d Theatre
The aquarium in Tampa also has a 50 seater 4d theatre that shows 15-minute films daily between 10 am to 4:30 pm. Guests can enjoy high-definition 3D experience plus 4D multi-sensory experiences such as snow, rain, mist, wind, different scents, bubbles, FX lighting and more.
Special Encounters and Experiences
Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay gives you the opportunity to have a one-on-one interaction with some of the most amazing creatures of the sea.
Swim with a tiger shark
The Florida Aquarium shark swim program is a unique snorkel-like experience where you get to swim with more than 1000 fish including a tiger shark, stingrays, barracudas, sea turtles and lots more. The whole experience will be recorded and guests will receive a copy of the whole encounter.
General Florida Aquarium admission is included with the purchase of this experience. You can also use your Florida Aquarium membership discount and get a $10 reduction in your tickets.
Meet the African Penguins
Enjoy an exclusive VIP one on one interaction with the adorable Florida Aquarium penguins. An expert will be accompanying the guests behind the scenes where they can watch these beautiful African penguins waddle, swim, shake their tail and go about their business.
Guests can catch a glimpse of these penguins being fed and taken care off. The biologist will be there to answer any questions related to these marine creatures and their lifestyle. This is one of the most popular animal encounters here that is loved by visitors of all age groups.
Moon Bay Jellies Touch Tank
The 2000 gallon water habitat has two touch pools with cold water moon jellies. These types of jellies do not sting so those worried about jellyfish stings can be rest assured that they can touch the Florida Aquarium jellyfish with no fear.
Learn and touch three animal ambassadors a day.
Florida aquarium close-up critters tour offers its guests a unique experience to touch and learn three different animals. These animals vary depending on the day it is organized. This tour also includes behind the scenes tours
Wild Dolphin Cruise
One of the most special experiences that guests would truly love is the Florida aquarium wild dolphin cruise aboard the Bay Spirit II. This is a 75-minute cruise to observe Tampa Bay’s aquatic wildlife. Once onboard the 72-foot catamaran, the cruise will head towards the ocean where guests can get a chance to view the incredible marine ecosystem of Tampa Bay.
On this excursion, you can view dolphins in their natural habitat as well as other marine animals.
Florida Aquarium Splash Pad
The Florida Aquarium splash pad is a great place for kids to splash, play and learn. The Splash Pad features a giant lily pad, water dump buckets, a specially designated area for toddlers to splash about, spray zones and so much more. This is a great place to unwind and enjoy some relaxing time with family and kids.
Florida aquarium dive with sharks is an amazing 90-minute encounter in one of the Shark Exhibits that replicates the coral reefs of the Bay area. Guests do not need to have prior scuba diving experience and gear will be provided along with an expert diver.
Swim alongside sharks, sea turtles, moray eels and several other marine animals. Photograph of the dive along with a souvenir T-shirt is included in the package.
Behind the scenes tours
The aquarium has daily behind the scenes tours that last for an hour and takes guests through all the processes that help in maintaining a facility such as this. How the 14000 odd animals are taken care off and everything else from filtering the water to feeding the inhabitants.
Book the tour in advance along with other attractions to enjoy some great Florida Aquarium prices.
Cozy up in sleeping bags right in front of sleeping sharks and eels at the Florida Aquarium. These sleepovers include guided instructions by the experts from the aquarium, a leisurely stroll along the Wetlands Trail, pizza snack, sleep by the massive fish tanks and enjoy a general admission to the Aquarium’s other exhibits in the morning.
Florida aquarium summer camp includes amazing animal encounters, tours of the aquarium, science experiments, crafts and some fun time at the Florida Aquarium Splash Pad.
Florida Aquarium Virtual Tour
- Florida Aquarium Virtual tour gives a close-up tour of the exhibits in a 360-degree virtual experience. Enjoy a virtual walk past the different exhibits, fish tanks, wetland animals and so much more all from the comfort of your home.
The best part is that this awesome experience is completely free.
- SeaSpan Episodes – The aquarium offers daily live content on Facebook where you can get a glimpse of what your favorite sea animal is up to during this time of lockdown.
Special Events planned at the Aquarium
You can plan several events at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa right from formal sitdown dinners to corporate events to personalised weddings.
Make your special day even more special with the inclusion of special guests; the fishes at the aquarium. A Florida Aquarium wedding with the colorful coral reef habitat as the backdrop is sure to be one of the most memorable experiences both for the couple as well as the guests.
Party with the fishes is the Florida Aquarium birthday party program that is meant for children between the age of 1 to 12. There are six venues to choose from and the aquarium even provides for all the party supplies. These parties can be held both indoors and outdoors.
The birthday party includes a two hour party time, an Aquarium party host, a cake from Publix and the best part of all is a special visit by an animal ambassador from the Florida Aquarium.
Other social events
The Florida Aquarium also hosts a variety of other events such as proms, quinceaneras, bat and bar mitzvahs, anniversaries, corporate meets, charity functions and lots more. There is ample space in the Aquarium for all kinds of celebrations which include dance floors with a wall to wall coral reef habitat.
Education and learning programs
The aquarium in Tampa also offers a wide range of educational and learning programs for those who want to learn more about marine science and marine ecosystems.
Special Homeschool Programs
Florida Aquarium homeschool programs are dedicated to those who are interested to learn more about ecology, marine science and biology. The classes are virtual as well as in-person and are available for homeschool students between the age of 6 to 14.
This is a program specially designed for children between 3 to 5 years old accompanied by a parent or a guardian. The programs are held every Wednesday between September to April. Parents can choose between a virtual program or in-person classes.
This is a specially designed course that is meant for educators and includes field trips, workshops and webisodes that focuses on the natural environment below the surface of the water.
Water Wheels Program
This is a special outreach program organized by the aquarium to give teachers and students a hands-on opportunity to learn about the different animals as well as environmental and marine science right at their school or facility.
Where is the Florida Aquarium?
The aquarium is located in downtown Tampa on the waterfront. If you follow the Florida Aquarium map you can find it going alongside the streetcar line. If you are new to the Tampa Bay area then you can call the Aquarium phone number for the Florida Aquarium directions.
The aquarium is just a 16-minute drive from the Tampa International Airport.
The address is:
701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602, United States
Parking facilities at the Florida Aquarium
Parking for this aquarium is located on the northside of the aquarium. Parking is $10 per car for free for those with Florida Aquarium membership.
Florida Aquarium Opening Hours
The aquarium has re-opened with certain precautions in place.
Florida Aquarium hours
9:30 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday
9:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m Saturday
9:30 am to 5 pm Sunday
Online reservations are required for all guests including those with memberships as well.
The Aquarium remains closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Dining at Florida Aquarium
Florida Aquarium has one dining option, Cafe Ray which is currently offering a grab and go menu.
Florida aquarium food policy does not allow outside food within the premises. This does not include baby food or baby bottles.
Florida Aquarium Jobs
Florida Aquarium internships are designed to give hands-on training for college students or recent graduates in the various fields of marine science, ecosystem science and several others.
For Florida Aquarium careers and job vacancies visit the facility or enquire at the phone number given in their official site.
Hotels near Florida Aquarium
There are several hotels near Florida Aquarium Tampa ranging from high-end to budget properties. Guests can also choose from a combined Florida Aquarium hotel package with the hotel of their choice for their trip. Some of the hotels are listed below:
The Westin Tampa Waterside
Elegant rooms with city or bay views, a heated outdoor pool, a gym, free wifi, a restaurant with water views, a cafe and a bar are some of the basic facilities that this 4-star hotel offers. It is located 1.1 miles from the aquarium.
Tampa Marriott Water Street
This is a classic urban hotel located within a block from the Tampa Bay Waterfront. It offers relaxed and comfortable rooms with all basic amenities, a gym, sauna and outdoor pool. For dining options, there is a casual grill restaurant, a cafe and a bar. It is 1.3 miles away from the Florida Aquarium.
Aloft Tampa Downtown Hotel
The hotel overlooks the Hillsborough River and offers comfortable contemporary rooms with free wifi and other basic amenities. This is a pet-friendly hotel and it also has a bar and a cafe for dining options. The hotel is 1.4 miles away from the Florida Aquarium.
Hampton Inn Tampa Downtown
This comfortable urban hotel features relaxed rooms with basic amenities. American and buffet breakfasts are available at the hotel every morning. It is about 0.7 miles from the Florida Aquarium. It is a pet-friendly hotel and has an outdoor pool, wifi, fitness centre among other amenities.
Restaurants near Florida Aquarium
Once you are done with exploring the myriad exhibits at the aquarium, explore the various restaurants near Florida Aquarium for a nourishing meal. Some popular eating joints are listed below:
This is an Italian restaurant located about 0.6 miles from the aquarium. It is in the Grand Central building right at the heart of the Channel District of Tampa. The restaurant serves traditional Italian cuisine along with great customer service.
Jackson’s Bistro Bar and Sushi
This restaurant is a popular eating joint for locals as well as visitors for the last twenty years. Located in Harbor Island right on the water, this restaurant is 0.8 miles from the aquarium. Handcrafted cocktails and locally inspired cuisines are the highlights of the menu.
Malio, the owner provides the finest hand-cut steaks, freshly caught seafood and excellent wines for his guests. This family-owned restaurant is located about 1.3 miles from the Aquarium.
5. Yacht Starship
This iconic Florida restaurant is a 3-diamond rated dining experience with private seating and award-winning cuisine. Guests can enjoy live entertainment programs while they wine and dine in style.
Top 10 attractions near the Florida Aquarium Tampa
- Tampa Bay History Centre
- Sparkman Wharf
- SS American Victory Mariners’ Memorial and Museum Ship
- Sacred Heart Catholic Church
- Tampa Theatre
- Tampa Riverwalk
- Bayshore BoulevardHenry B. Plant Museum
- Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
- Glazer Children’s Museum
Florida Aquarium in Tampa and its fascinating exhibits have enthralled millions over the years. It is ranked as one of the best aquariums in the United States for a reason.
Their conservation programs, tours, rescue missions and their pledge to prepare a new generation of environmentally-aware youngsters and the next generation of conservationists is a continuous process.
The programs keep entertainment at the fore but every one of them has underlying lessons that teach its visitors how important the water bodies are.
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