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Florida Aquarium, Tampa

FloridaAquarium

The Florida Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the United States, and it is located in the City of Tampa… It’s centrally located in the state near the waterfront of Tampa Bay, within a short drive to the heavily touristy city of Orlando FL. Not every state in the U.S. has their own official aquarium for the residents to visit and learn about undersea life, but most of the best ones are located in the southeastern part of the United States, such as the City of Atlanta Aquarium, Chattanooga Aquarium, and of course the Florida Aquarium.

It is also a very big draw to bring in the tourists who came to see Walt Disney World in the Orlando area, since it’s a very short drive away. The Florida Aquarium is located in Tampa’s downtown Channelside district, with plenty of parking available for those looking to spend a few hours viewing all the different exhibits there. You’ll be able to explore many different habitats such as Wetlands, Coral Reef, Bays and Beaches, Ocean Commotion, Penguins, and Sharks.

In the wetlands exhibit you will be able to experience the many creatures that live in Florida’s many wetlands such as the river otter, alligators, crocodiles, stingrays, nurse sharks, and more… There are also many types of wetlands in Florida which include the many crystal clear freshwater springs in the state which make for excellent diving and snorkeling, even if the water stays at a crisp 72 degrees all year long. There are also mangrove forests situated near the coastline with their roots growing right out of the salt water! They are a buffer to protect the coastline against storms and hurricanes and to help prevent beach erosion. At the Florida Aquarium you will also get to see some of the tropical birds that are endemic to Florida, including the Roseate Spoonbills…

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There is a huge windowed ceiling at the top to allow natural sunlight to filter into the complex, and this allows a more natural setting for the animals. Have you ever wondered what types of fish and plant life exist just under the surface in a Florida stream or river? Check out this great exhibit and you’ll find out! Or how about a sawgrass marsh, like they have in the Everglades? Children will love the Florida Aquarium, with its many interactive exhibits and attractions, and everyone can probably relate to “going to the aquarium or zoo” when they were younger…

Not all of the fun is inside the aquarium either, as they have a 2 acre water park for children right outside for those hot days where you need some cooling off! Relax in the shade as the kids “explore a shore” in the water park where they can actually sit and build a sand castle or chase squirting fountains all over the place… The Tampa Tribune Cantina Bar and Grill is located here, so grab some refreshments while your children have some fun…

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There are so many fun activities you can do and see at the Florida Aquarium and if you don’t watch out you just may learn something! They have a “Penguin Promenade” at certain times of the day where African Black Footed Penguins will come out to meet the guests with a trainer who will answer questions and teach people something about this cool critter! Interested in a backstage pass? There are plenty of behind the scenes tours that you can take if you’re really interested in marine life and the aquarium. One of my favorite exhibits is the “Leafy Sea Horses” from down under near Australia! It’s very hard to distinguish them from the plant life in the tank, because they look so similar!

You can also scuba dive the Florida Aquarium if you are a certified diver, and it’s always a great experience to actually get to swim with the fishes and sharks that you would normally see through the glass! Of course, all of these extra tours and diving excursions are an extra cost added on to your admission, but just think that you are helping to provide food and care for all of the sea creatures at the aquarium and so you are helping to keep this wonderful attraction open for many more years to come…

There are many exhibits just for kids, and it sure makes a great school field trip! Educational programs abound here, and they have teacher workshops at different times of the year so that they can bring back what they learn into the classroom. Sleepovers are also organized from time to time, to allow groups to experience the aquarium at night and to see what happens “when the lights go out”…

The Florida Aquarium is one of my favorites in the country, and I’m sure you will agree! They do a lot of scientific research, including an underwater archaeological exploration of Tampa Bay to search for War of Northern Aggression shipwrecks that were known to have sunk in the area… You can volunteer to be a member of any number of excursions or research trips that are going on, and it’s a great way to make some of those dreams come true that you’ve always wanted to do. Have fun!






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