Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay, is perfect for a family day out. It is a renowned destination for marine enthusiasts. Visitors can expect to experience vast marine life at this destination.
Over 7,000 aquatic animals and plants here offer people an unforgettable glimpse into the ocean’s wonders. Visitors can explore several interactive exhibits and educational programs.
This destination also allows people to learn about and appreciate the importance of marine conservation. Let us further explore the attractions and experiences that make this place a must-visit destination for all ages.
|Best Time to Visit||March to September|
|Suggested Visit Duration||2-3 hours|
|Visiting Hours||Opens daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm|
|Ticket Prices||Starting from $27|
|Specialty||Coral conservation, rescue and rehabilitation, interactive exhibits,|
|Address||701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, Florida 33602, USA (View on Maps)|
|Contact Number(s)||+1 813-273-4000|
|Links||Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram|
The Florida Aquarium first opened in March 1995. It opened due to a long-term partnership between the City of Tampa, the Florida Aquarium Board of Directors, and other organizations.
The aquarium first started as a non-profit institution with a mission to educate and inspire individuals. It focused on conserving and protecting Florida’s aquatic resources. The initial construction cost of building the place was possible because of private and public donations.
Recently, the aquarium completed a $15 million renovation project. It added new exhibits and focused on enhancing visitor experiences. Undoubtedly, this destination is one of the top aquariums in the United States.
More than 10 million guests have visited this place since its opening.
- The Florida Aquarium is home to the only non-profit sea turtle hospital in Florida. It offers injured or sick sea turtles much-needed rehabilitation.
- The Coral Reef exhibit here is the world’s largest exhibit of its kind. It has a 500,000-gallon tank with over 2,000 sea creatures.
- The destination is one of the few aquariums with bred sand tiger sharks. This species is tough to breed in captivity.
- In addition to traditional exhibits, the place offers unique experiences, such as swimming with sharks and penguins. Visitors can even opt for a sleepover here.
- The rooftop garden here is home to over 5,000 plants. It is a great educational tool to teach people about the importance of sustainable living practices.
While the Florida Aquarium is a must-visit destination, the cost of admission can add up, especially for families. Luckily, some opportunities exist for people to enjoy free admission to the aquarium.
Free days tend to be popular. So people must be prepared for crowds and potentially long wait times.
All infants get free entry into the aquarium.
Other than this, all members can enjoy free entry. Members can also avail themselves of discounts on several other experiences and excursions.
The Florida Aquarium offers a variety of ticket options to suit people’s needs. Visitors can purchase tickets online or in person at the ticket office. The price of admission tickets keeps fluctuating. Usually, it depends on the time of the week, weather, etc.
People can plan their visit ahead of time by checking the ticket prices. It will allow visitors to stay within their budget.
Generally, the minimum ticket prices that people must pay are as follows.
- Adults: USD 36
- Children: USD 27
- Senior Citizens: USD 28
- Infants: Free
Several types of discounts make the attraction more accessible to people. These discounts are available online or in person and are subject to availability.
Visitors can access the below-mentioned types of discounts while getting the tickets.
- Military Discount: Active-duty military, retired, and drilling reservists or National Guard members can receive free admission to the Florida Aquarium.
- Teacher Discount: Teachers in Florida can receive a free Florida Aquarium Teacher Pass, which provides free admission to the aquarium all year round.
- EBT Discount: Visitors participating in the Museums for All program can receive discounted or free admission. Visitors need a valid EBT card and photo ID to book a ticket.
- AAA Discount: AAA members are eligible for discounted admission to the aquarium. AAA discount is available on purchasing tickets online or in person.
- Costco: Costco members can save a few bucks while reserving their slots to explore the place.
- Gift Cards: The Florida Aquarium offers gift cards, which can be purchased online or in person and used for admission, retail purchases, or animal encounters.
- Groupon: Groupon coupons allow you to get discounted admission.
- CityPASS: Holders of CityPASS get up to 52% off on ticket prices.
Visitors can get Gift cards online through the aquarium’s official website. These gift cards apply to admission, retail purchases, or animal encounters.
Also, people can get physical gift cards at the ticket counter.
Besides purchasing gift cards directly from the aquarium, visitors can buy them from external websites such as Giftly and GiftRocket. These websites offer digital gift cards.
These cards can be sent via email or text message. Receivers can redeem them online or in person at the aquarium. Senders can choose the amount they want to gift and personalize the message for the recipient.
Several animal encounters make the destination worth exploring. These animal encounters allow visitors to have a thrilling experience. Most of the encounters are available with the usual ticket amount.
However, people might need to pay an additional charge for experiencing some encounters.
Penguin Backstage Pass
Visitors can get an exclusive look at the aquarium’s penguins. This encounter allows visitors to learn about their care, behavior, and conservation efforts.
The experience includes a private meet-and-greet with the penguins and their keepers. People might also have a photo opportunity. This encounter is chargeable and requires booking.
The Shark Swim allows people to dive into the aquarium’s largest tank. This encounter allows people to swim with various sharks and other marine animals.
The experience includes a guided tour, a safety briefing, and all necessary gear. Visitors might need to make an advanced reservation for this encounter.
Swim With The Fishes
People can snorkel in the Coral Reef tank and swim alongside various fish and other marine animals. School groups, scout groups, youth groups, and children above 6 can participate in this encounter.
This encounter is available for a minimum of 15 members group. Visitors must contact the aquarium’s team to book this animal encounter.
Behind The Scenes Tour
This tour allows explorers to go behind the scenes. This encounter lets people learn about the aquarium’s animal care, food preparation, and filtration systems.
The experience includes a guided tour of the aquarium’s laboratory and animal-holding areas. Visitors may need to pay an additional price to experience this animal encounter.
Wild Dolphin Cruise
People can take a cruise tour of Tampa Bay and observe wild dolphins in their natural habitat. An experienced guide leads the tour and tells people about the dolphins and their behavior. This encounter is chargeable and requires booking.
The timings of these animal encounters vary and require booking.
The Florida Aquarium features a wide range of exhibits. These exhibits showcase the diversity of marine life in Florida and worldwide.
People can explore the below-mentioned exhibits here.
The Wetlands Trail takes explorers through Florida’s coastal habitats, including mangroves, swamps, and marshes.
The exhibit features a variety of animals, such as alligators, otters, and turtles, and highlights the importance of wetland ecosystems. Since this exhibit is included with general admission, visitors need not bear an extra charge to enjoy it.
Journey to Madagascar
Journey to Madagascar takes people on a virtual trip to the island nation off the coast of Africa.
This exhibit showcases lemurs, chameleons, and other animals found only in Madagascar. People who witness this exhibit also learn about the country’s culture and conservation efforts.
The Splash Pad
The Splash Pad is a water play area for young children. The exhibit features interactive water elements like sprays, fountains, and a small water slide.
The Shorelines exhibit features various coastal environments found in Florida. Visitors can explore mangrove swamps, coral reefs, and rocky tide pools.
This exhibit allows people to observe various animals, such as sea stars, horseshoe crabs, and seahorses. Participants in this exhibit can learn the importance of these ecosystems and the threats they face.
There is also a touch tank where visitors can interact with some animals.
No Bone Zone
The No Bone Zone exhibit is a unique exhibit that showcases animals that don’t have bones, such as jellyfish, octopuses, and sea anemones. Visitors can marvel at the fascinating forms and colors of these animals.
Like other exhibits, this exhibit also features interactive displays and tanks where people can closely look at these creatures.
The Reef Secrets exhibit takes people on an immersive journey through a colorful and diverse coral reef ecosystem. Visitors can observe a variety of tropical fish, sharks, rays, and other marine creatures.
This exhibit allows people to watch these species as they swim through the vibrant coral formations. It has a large tank that makes it possible to view the reef from different angles and perspectives.
Visitors can also learn about the importance of coral reefs by exploring this exhibit. They can also learn about threatening situations like climate change and overfishing.
Stingray Beach is a popular exhibit at the Florida Aquarium. This interactive exhibit allows visitors to witness these graceful and fascinating animals.
People can interact with cownose and southern stingrays in a shallow pool under the guidance of trained staff. The exhibit also features informational displays about stingray anatomy, behavior, and conservation.
Visitors can purchase a fish tray to feed the stingrays for an additional fee.
Waves of Wonder
The Waves of Wonder is a colorful exhibit home to many colorful species. This exhibit features jellies, clownfish, and anemones. People can also witness the Octopus of the Pacific at this exhibit.
The exhibit allows visitors to spot mysterious creatures like Sand Tiger Sharks. It also features otters, hogfish, spotted eagle rays, etc.
At Florida Aquarium, children and adults can participate in exciting learning opportunities. These learning opportunities can help them gain a deeper understanding of marine life.
Here are some of the learning opportunities offered by the aquarium:
The field trips complement Florida’s state curriculum standards, making the place an ideal destination for school groups.
Students can experience a variety of interactive exhibits, including the coral reef and seahorse exhibits. These exhibits allow them to learn about the habitat and behaviors of marine life.
The outreach programs focus on bringing the marine world to communities and schools. This program aims to create a greater awareness and appreciation of ocean life.
The aquarium also provides outreach kits for schools and community groups. These kits include educational resources, interactive activities, and materials for creating marine habitats in classrooms or community spaces.
The outreach programs start at $195 when participants book their slots for the first time.
There are a variety of camps for children, providing them with an immersive experience. Summer camps allow children to get hands-on learning opportunities in marine science. There are day camps, sleepover camps, etc., that people can join.
The Florida Aquarium offers a variety of virtual learning opportunities. People unable to visit the place can join these virtual learning classes. These opportunities host various virtual field trips that give you virtual tours of exhibits.
Also, there are many virtual workshops that people can attend. These workshops cover a variety of marine science topics.
The Florida Aquarium offers private event spaces for many occasions. People can book spaces for weddings, corporate events, and social gatherings. These event spaces provide a unique backdrop for any event.
The experienced event team can work with people to create a customized event package, including catering and entertainment options.
People can book a space for the below-mentioned events.
The destination offers stunning and unique venues for wedding ceremonies and receptions. Imagine exchanging your vows surrounded by colorful fish and marine creatures. People can also host a reception in an underwater tunnel.
This place can provide a memorable setting for corporate events. Hosts get sufficient space to conduct meetings and team-building activities. The aquarium also offers an ideal environment for product launches.
There are facilities like conference rooms and AV equipment that offer hosts a professional yet inspiring environment.
Kids and adults alike can enjoy birthday parties at an aquarium. There are many options that hosts can explore. These options include behind-the-scenes tours, animal encounters, and private party rooms.
Plus, the aquarium setting adds an educational and entertaining element to the celebration.
School Field Trips
This aquarium can be an excellent place for students to learn about marine life and ecosystems with educational programs and interactive exhibits. Visitors can tailor the field trips to fit specific age groups and curriculum standards.
People can host gatherings like family reunions or holiday parties at the Florida Aquarium. There are many options, like private event spaces, catering, and guided tours. The unique setting can provide a fun and memorable experience for all ages.
Dining at the Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium offers several dining options.
- It has a restaurant called Cafe Ray. It is an eatery serving sandwiches, salads, and other quick bites. The restaurant also specializes in offering fresh seafood, tacos, and margaritas.
- The Cove allows people to enjoy food and drinks at the cafe with a beautiful view of Tampa Bay. This restaurant is perfect for those who prefer a quick snack or beverage.
- The third dining option here is Sandy’s Snack Shack. This is for the ones with a sweet tooth. People can taste a couple of ice cream flavors and other sweet treats.
All food and beverages served here are made with fresh, local ingredients.
The Florida Aquarium has a gift shop that offers a variety of marine-related merchandise and gifts for all ages. Visitors can browse through a range of items. These usually include t-shirts, caps, toys, books, and other fun-filled items.
In addition to the standard souvenirs, the gift shops offer exclusive collections and one-of-a-kind merchandise. People can also purchase eco-friendly products. These products comprise recycled materials to minimize environmental impact.
The aquarium also offers online shopping. Visitors can order gifts and souvenirs to be shipped to their doorstep. There’s free shipping on orders above $49.
Rescue and Conservation Efforts
Conservation efforts are a top priority at many public aquariums, and this is no exception at Florida Aquarium. This place is actively engaged in coral conservation efforts through several partnership programs.
The aquarium focuses on conserving marine life and habitats. Over time, it has identified several conservation priorities. These include reducing plastic pollution, protecting endangered species, and promoting sustainable fishing practices.
There is also a Conservation Campus here. This campus is a research and education facility dedicated to studying and protecting marine life and habitats.
The internal map shows where everything is located to help people explore the place. Visitors can access this map online before heading to this place.
There are no physical copies of the map available. However, there are QR codes everywhere inside the aquarium. These QR codes allow people to access the maps any time they are at this place.
People can use this map to plan their visit, find their way around, and ensure they don’t miss any exhibits or experiences. The map also indicates restrooms, gift shops, restaurants, and other important facilities.
How to Reach & Parking
Reaching this destination is very simple. It is at the heart of Tampa Bay. So visitors don’t need to struggle to locate the aquarium.
Visitors can reach this place through various modes of transportation. The below mentioned are some ways to reach here from different directions.
From the East
From the East (Orlando & Atlantic Coast), take I-4 West to exit 2. Turn right onto N 22nd St. Then, visitors can take a left on E Adamo Drive.
From there, turn left on Channelside Dr. At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit. Finally, turn left to reach the destination.
From the North
From the North, take I-75 South to I-275 South. Then, there is an exit at 45A. Turn left onto N Orange Avenue. Then, turn left on E. Twiggs. After that, turn right on Channelside Dr.
At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit. Finally, turn left into The Florida Aquarium Parking lot.
From the South
If someone is coming from the South, they can take I-75 North and exit at FL-618 Selmon Expressway. After that, take exit 9. This exit will take people toward the Port of Tampa. Then, visitors can turn left onto E Adamo Drive.
They will reach N 12 St. From there, turn left to reach Channelside Drive. Take the 3rd exit at the traffic circle. Turn left to reach the destination.
From the West
From the West, take I-275 North and exit at 44 toward Downtown E. Then, turn right on N Jefferson St. After this, taking a left turn on N Orange St/Pierce S will lead to Twiggs.
Then, take a right on Channelside Drive and the 3rd exit to reach the parking lot.
The aquarium has its parking garage. This parking lot is easily accessible from the main entrance. Visitors need to bear parking fees through cash, cards, or online mobile apps.
The parking charges fluctuate according to the time of the week, public holidays, etc. Usually, people need to pay a parking fee of $10.35.
Parking spaces are available on a first come and first serve basis. Members can enjoy free parking here.
Several lodging options near the aquarium offer people a perfect place to stay. Visitors can find just the right place depending on their budget and needs.
The below mentioned are the top 5 options that offer a great experience to their guests.
Embassy Suites (Best Luxury Hotel)
Distance: 0.6 miles
Embassy Suites offer spacious suites with separate living areas, kitchenettes, and free WiFi. It features an outdoor pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant. The hotel also provides a complimentary breakfast and evening reception with drinks and snacks.
The Westin Tampa Waterside (Best Waterfront Hotel)
Distance: 1.2 miles
Located along the waterfront, this hotel offers stunning views of Tampa Bay. The contemporary rooms offer plush bedding, flat-screen TVs, and WiFi.
The hotel features a restaurant, pool, fitness center, and a complimentary shuttle to nearby attractions.
Roost Tampa (Best Boutique Hotel)
Distance: 0.9 miles
Roost Tampa is a stylish boutique hotel with unique rooms with vintage decor and modern amenities like flat-screen TVs and WiFi.
Some rooms have balconies with city views. The hotel features a rooftop terrace, bar, and complimentary coffee in the lobby.
Hyatt Place Tampa Downtown (Best Budget Hotel)
Distance: 0.5 miles
Hyatt Place is a modern hotel that offers comfortable rooms with plush beds, flat-screen TVs, and free WiFi. It has an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a 24/7 convenience store. The hotel also provides a complimentary breakfast.
Hotel Haya (Best Cultural Hotel)
Distance: 0.8 miles
Hotel Haya is a boutique hotel celebrating Tampa’s Latin heritage and culture. The rooms are stylish and offer WiFi.
The hotel has an on-site restaurant and bar, a fitness center, and an outdoor courtyard. It also offers a complimentary shuttle to nearby attractions.
Though several dining options exist at the aquarium, visitors can also explore some nearby options. These five restaurants offer a great menu to their guests to satisfy their taste buds.
Curry Leaves Indian Cuisine (Best Indian)
Distance: 0.3 miles
Curry Leaves offers authentic Indian cuisine with a modern twist. This restaurant is just a short walk from the aquarium. Their menu features a variety of dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
Fabrica Woodfired Pizza (Best Pizza)
Distance: 0.2 miles
Fabrica Woodfired Pizza is a great option for pizza lovers. They use a traditional woodfired oven to cook their pizzas to perfection. Also, this restaurant offers a variety of toppings to choose from.
Flock and Stock (Best Fried Chicken)
Distance: 0.4 miles
It is a casual eatery that serves up delicious burgers and fried chicken. They prepare their food with locally-sourced and fresh ingredients. They also offer a variety of sides, salads, and sandwiches.
Splitsville Southern & Social (Best Bowling and Bar)
Distance: 0.3 miles
Located in the nearby Sparkman Wharf, Splitsville offers a fun and lively atmosphere. It serves some great and classic American dishes like burgers, wings, and mac & cheese.
Victory Coffee (Best Coffee)
Distance: 0.2 miles
This cozy coffee shop serves delicious coffee drinks made with locally-roasted beans. Guests can also taste a variety of baked goods and sandwiches. This restaurant also serves beer and wine in the evenings.
If people head to Tampa Bay to explore the aquarium, a few more destinations and attractions are worth witnessing.
Tampa Bay History Center
Distance: 0.3 miles
This museum shows the rich history of Tampa Bay and Florida through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and multimedia displays.
Tampa Museum of Art
Distance: 0.4 miles
The Tampa Museum of Art has a diverse modern and contemporary art collection. People can also explore and enjoy special exhibitions, educational programs, and events.
Glazer Children’s Museum
Distance: 0.5 miles
The Glazer Children’s Museum is a fun and educational attraction for kids of all ages. This museum offers children hands-on exhibits, interactive play areas, and programs. These programs help promote learning and creativity.
Henry B. Plant Museum
Distance: 2.4 miles
Located on the University of Tampa campus, this museum speaks about the history of the Tampa Bay Hotel. This hotel was a grand Victorian-era resort. Now, it is a National Historic Landmark.
American Victory Ship & Museum
Distance: 2.6 miles
This historic cargo ship and museum offers people a glimpse into the sailors’ life during World War II. There are exhibits on naval history, maritime technology, and more.
Working at the Aquarium
The aquarium offers job opportunities in different fields. For example, people can apply for animal care, education, research, and administration.
- Apart from jobs, the aquarium also offers internships for those interested in gaining experience in the field. The internships provide training in various areas, such as animal care, exhibit design, and conservation research.
- Participants can apply for many volunteer opportunities available here. These opportunities allow individuals to assist with various tasks. These tasks include animal care, guest services, and education programs.
- These opportunities can provide valuable experience for those pursuing a marine biology or conservation career.
Donating to the aquarium can help provide better care for the animals. Such funds also help promote vital conservation efforts. By donating, people can help the aquarium continue providing education and awareness about marine life.
Donors can choose to make a one-time or recurring donation. Also, there are various levels of giving.
This place attracts a lot of people. Almost every person who has explored this destination has left positive reviews about their experience. So, exploring this destination can be worthwhile if visitors seek an exciting place to spend their day at.
People can find several positive reviews about The Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay, on Tripadvisor. These reviews are a great way to understand what to expect when heading to this destination.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Florida Aquarium located?
Florida Aquarium is at 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, Florida, USA.
Is it free?
No, entry into the Florida Aquarium is not free. There are admission fees to enter the aquarium.
How much are the tickets?
The ticket prices at this destination can vary per the time of the week, holidays, etc. However, people must pay a minimum of the below-mentioned amounts to enter.
Adults: USD 36
Children: USD 27
Senior Citizens: USD 28
How big is it?
Florida Aquarium covers an area of 250,000 square feet. It is home to over 14,000 animals and plants, representing more than 500 species.
How long to spend at the aquarium?
People can spend 2-3 hours at Florida Aquarium to fully explore and enjoy the exhibits and activities.
Where to park?
Florida Aquarium has its parking garage located adjacent to the building. Additional parking options, including surface lots and parking garages, are available nearby.
How much is parking?
The parking fee at Florida Aquarium’s parking garage is $10.35. Prices may vary for other nearby parking options.
Is the aquarium worth visiting?
Yes, visiting the Florida Aquarium is worthwhile. People can explore underwater viewing galleries, touch tanks, animal encounters, and more. Visiting this place is an informative and meaningful experience for people of all ages.
Other Nearby Aquariums
A word from FIA
We hope this trip planning guide has provided visitors with all the information about the Florida Aquarium. We have covered all its exhibits, events, dining options, conservation efforts, etc.
We encourage people to visit this fantastic destination with family and friends. After all, it is a great place to experience the magic of the underwater world.
Don’t forget to share this trip planning guide with others interested in exploring the aquarium.