One of the reasons that I like to do some planning before we head out of town is that I have so much fun watching dreams like this come true. Spontaneity is great, but so is a vision realized. I hope you'll indulge me in a little reflection on our time at the Florida Aquarium. I'm including a few insider tips to make it worth your while!
One of the best aspects of the Florida Aquarium is that they offer hands-on interaction with the animals. And you don't have to wait long to get your hands on the animals. Right in the lobby is a Sting Ray Touch Tank. The arrow was a little too nervous to get his hands in there, but I did and he had fun watching me pet the rays.
|Sting Ray Touch Tank at the Florida Aquarium|
|No Bone Zone at the Florida Aquarium|
Accessible for Toddlers
I also appreciated the efforts that the Florida Aquarium made to ensure that even the littlest kids could see all the wonderful fish and animals on display. Rarely did we have to lift the arrow... he could walk right up to floor-to-ceiling tanks or peer over ledges that were short enough for him to see over.
Insider Tip: If your toddler walks pretty well, leave the stroller in the car. We pushed an empty one around for our entire visit. The Florida Aquarium isn't that large in terms of square footage and each exhibit space flows right into the next one. You could easily just carry your little one for short periods of time if they do get tired.
Not Just Fish
I was a little worried that the arrow might get tired of staring at tank after tank of fish. Fortunately the Florida Aquarium, much like Mother Nature herself, includes all kinds of wildlife. So we could practice our "Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!" with the owl.
|Owl at the Florida Aquarium|
|Alligator at the Florida Aquarium|
And the arrow continued to avoid the camera while we tried to get a family photo with some cool birds.
Insider Tip: If your kids are a bit older, you'll appreciate that the exhibits are all very well labeled, so you can help them identify exactly what species of animals they're seeing. It might be fun to pack a notebook and keep a record of some of their favorites.
If You Visit:
701 Channelside Drive, Tampa
Open 9:30 to 5 p.m. every day.
Admission is $19.95 for adults. (Or save 10% if you buy tickets online.) Children 3-12 are $14.95 at full price (the 10% discount also applies if you buy online).
More Insider Tips:
Use the ticket kiosk. Don't want to wait in line for tickets but didn't buy tickets in advance? We used an automated kiosk near the entrance. So when the doors opened, we walked right in without a wait at the ticket window.
|Ticket Kiosk at the Florida Aquarium|
Get outside. The arrow got a little worked up from all the excitement (animals! fish! people!) There were several chances to duck outside on the patio area for a breath of fresh air and let him settle down a little bit. It really helped to make our experience more enjoyable. (There's also a water park attached to the aquarium, but it was a little too chilly for that the day we visited.)
|Patio garden where they grow fish food at the Florida Aquarium|
|View of cruise ship from patio of the Florida Aquarium|