- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Fodor's South Florida 2014
Florida Aquarium Review
Although eels, sharks, and stingrays are the headliners, the Florida Aquarium is much more than a giant fishbowl. This architectural landmark features an 83-foot-high, multitier, glass dome; 250,000 square feet of air-conditioned exhibit space; and more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals representing species native to Florida and the rest of the world—from black-tip sharks to leafy sea dragons.
Floor-to-ceiling interactive displays, behind-the-scenes tours, and in-water adventures allow kids to really get hands-on—and even get their feet wet. Adventurous types (certified divers age 15 and up) can dive with mild-mannered sharks and sea turtles, participate in shark-feeding programs (age 12 and up), or shallow-water swim with reef fish such as eels and grouper (age 6 and up).
However, you don't have to get wet to have an interactive experience: the Ocean Commotion exhibit offers virtual dolphins and whales and multimedia displays and presentations, and even allows kids to upload video to become part of the exhibit. The Coral Reef Gallery is a 500,000-gallon tank with viewing windows, an awesome 43-foot-wide panoramic opening, and a walk-through tunnel that gives the illusion of venturing into underwater depths. There you see a thicket of elkhorn coral teeming with tropical fish, and a dark cave reveals sea life you would normally see only on night dives.
If you have two hours, try the Wild Dolphin Adventure Cruise, which takes up to 130 passengers onto Tampa Bay in a 72-foot catamaran for an up-close look at bottlenose dolphins and other wildlife. The outdoor Explore a Shore exhibit, which gives younger kids a chance to release some energy, is an aquatic playground with a waterslide, water-jet sprays, and a climbable replica pirate ship. Last but not least, two black-footed South African penguins make daily appearances in the Coral Reef Gallery. For an extra cost, you can get an up-close look at the daily lives of these penguins during the half-hour-long Penguins: Backstage Pass demonstration.
- Address: 701 Channelside Dr., Downtown, Tampa, FL 33602 | Map It
- Phone: 813/273–4000
- Cost: Aquarium $21.95; Aquarium/Adventure Cruise combo $37.95; Penguins: Backstage Pass combo $48.95; Behind the Scenes Combo $29.95; Dive with the Sharks, $175; Swim with the Fishes, $75; parking $6
- Hours: Daily 9:30–5
- Website: www.flaquarium.org
- Location: Tampa
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
I just got home last night. Read more
*What Do You Mean Forgotten?*
As a boy learning about US history, what seemed to be described as "earliest" European settlement in the US included the Pilgrims arriving in Plymouth Rock, with a certai Read more
I am planning on moving to Florida with my husband and 2 kids and also I have a horse. Read more
· News & Features
This week, we covered top destinations for great family getaways—from Disney World to dinosaur spotting. ... Read more
Go on location in Görlitz, Germany, to the transporting set of director Wes Anderson's film... Read more
Kick off spring with some of this year's best events and hotel packages in Washington, D.C.... Read more