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4 Tips for Visiting The Florida Aquarium – 2023

There is one thing for certain about Florida: it is hot in the summer. If you need to beat the heat, head to The Florida Aquarium for a day.


Where is The Florida Aquarium Located?

The Florida Aquarium is located in downtown Tampa. It is near the Port of Tampa and sits on Tampa Bay. The address is 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602.

What are the Hours of The Florida Aquarium?

The Florida Aquarium is open 9:30am to 5:00pm daily. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Roseate spoonbill on the Wetlands Trail at The Florida Aquarium -
A roseate spoonbill watches us on the Wetlands Trail.

What Animals Can You See at the Florida Aquarium?

The Florida Aquarium is divided into different habitats that each contain different animals. Here’s a list of the habitats:

  1. Wetlands of Florida. This exhibit is housed in a large glass dome and features a mangrove forest, alligators, birds, fish, river otters, and more.
  2. Journey to Madagascar. This exhibit is located above the Wetlands of Florida exhibit. Here you’ll find everything from hissing cockroaches to lemurs.
  3. Coral Reef. This 500,000 gallon aquarium is home to sharks, rays, sea turtles, green moray eels, and more.
  4. Moon Bay. This touch tank exhibit allows you to touch moon jellies.
  5. No Bone Zone. Similar to Moon Bay, this touch tank exhibit allows you to touch starfish, anemones, sea urchins, and more.
  6. Stingray Beach. In this exhibit, you can touch stingrays. If you arrive at the exhibit during a stingray ‘time out’, stick around for a few minutes and you’ll be able to touch them.
  7. Bays and Beaches. This exhibit features puffer fish, garden eels, and lobsters.
  8. Waves of Wonder. Here you will find octopus, eagle rays, bonnethead sharks, hogfish, and more.
  9. Reef Secrets. This gallery is full of pipefish, sea dragons, and sea horses.
  10. Penguin Pavilion. This small outdoor exhibit allows you to get face to face with African penguins. This new exhibit opened in March 2022.
Touching sea stars at the No Bone Zone touch tank at The Florida Aquarium -
Touching sea stars at the No Bone Zone.

Additional Shows & Experiences

  1. Raptors! Birds of Prey Experience. This new show (debuted in June 2022) features falcons and hawks and is on the roof of the aquarium.
  2. 4Ducks Theater. 4-D shows that are about 15 minutes long. The entrance to the theater is located outside, but the show is indoors.
  3. The Splash Pad. This outdoor water play area is perfect for younger children. A few tips: If your child is not potty trained, you’ll need a swim diaper. And, I wished my kids had had water shoes. The ground in places was hot!
  4. The Aquatic Lounge. This area offers an art show. As of Summer 2022, there were several art pieces on the walls and a handful of fish tanks with art displayed inside of them.
  5. Wild Dolphin Cruise. For an additional fee, this experience takes you around Tampa Bay to look for wild dolphins on a boat.
Raptors! Birds of Prey Experience at The Florida Aquarium -
Raptors! Birds of Prey Experience is a brand new show located on the rooftop deck of The Florida Aquarium.

How Long Does it Take to Go Through The Florida Aquarium?

At the very least, I recommend a few hours. If you plan to play on The Splash Pad or take the Wild Dolphin Cruise, I’d plan to spend the whole day.

Stingray Lagoon at The Florida Aquarium -
Stingray Lagoon on a time out.

How Much Does The Florida Aquarium Cost?

General Admission to The Florida Aquarium fluctuates daily based on the time of year, day of week, and projected attendance. In general, The Florida Aquarium costs around $30 per adult. Child and senior tickets are slightly discounted. See the current pricing on The Florida Aquarium website.

Is The Florida Aquarium Indoors?

While most of the exhibits are indoors (and air conditioned!) some exhibits are outdoors. These include: Raptors! Birds of Prey Experience, the entrance to the 4Ducks Theater, The Splash Pad, Penguin Pavilion, and the Wild Dolphin Cruise.

African penguins at The Florida Aquarium -
African penguins at the new Penguin Pavilion exhibit.

Are There Restaurants at The Florida Aquarium?

Yes. The Florida Aquarium has a small food court, Cafe Ray. You’ll find grab and go salads, burgers, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and pizzas. The food was average and the prices were what you’d expect for a tourist establishment. Outside food is not permitted in the aquarium.

Watching fish through one of the shaped windows at The Florida Aquarium -
Watching fish through one of the many shaped windows.

4 Tips for Visiting The Florida Aquarium

  1. Purchase tickets ahead of time. Tickets purchased through The Florida Aquarium’s website are cheaper than the ticket counter – and you won’t have to wait in the long line outside.
  2. Research the membership option. If you have a 4 or more guests, it may be cheaper to purchase an aquarium membership. On the day of our recent visit, it was $6 more to upgrade to an aquarium membership which provided discounts in both the gift shop and Cafe Ray. And, you’ll have entrance for a full year as well as other benefits. Memberships also offer reciprocal discounts at other aquariums and zoos.
  3. Parking has changed. As of May 2022, the city of Tampa has taken over parking for The Florida Aquarium. After parking, you’ll use an app or pay kiosk in the parking lot to pay for parking.
  4. The Florida Aquarium is cashless. You’ll need to pay by card or tap at all locations at the aquarium.