The Florida Aquarium in Tampa has been one on our list for awhile now and with it being a participant in the Clearwater Marine Aquarium membership reciprocals we made it part of our almost back to school weekend of fun this August.
The drive into the parking area was fun as water’s edge is flanked with cruise ships. The enormity of these vessels makes even some of the larger city buildings seem small.
This aquarium is very much a surprise on the inside for many like myself expecting only to be met with various glass aquarium displays. Once you begin your journey no matter which route you choose you’ll feel as if you’re venturing through one of many local nature preserves. The birds in these low cut and open aquatic displays are only an arms length away at best, but please be courteous and don’t touch.
I really enjoyed the jungle like feel inside and the flood of natural light. I felt as if I were viewing many of the creatures on display in their natural habitats which gave something so much more special to the experience.
Once through the main hallways and Madagascar experience we were mesmerized by the sea creatures at every turn. So many amazing life forms caught our attention. Those like the Finding Nemo favorites, sea plant life, and gigantic sea habitants were among our most viewed.
I kind of lost track of time (and my family) at both the jelly fish and shark tanks.
The overall feel of the Florida Aquarium was a great educational and fun experience but it did feel very crowded and the flow of traffic was pushy at times. A few bad apples in the crowd made viewing certain areas difficult on this particular day (at one point my head was used as a camera rest for a stranger who very pushily then told me “Don’t move. Hold still!”). I would highly recommend planning this trip on one of the less busy days to fully enjoy all that is there to be seen.
The Aquarium also offers a huge water play area for kids outside but be sure to come prepared. Your kids will get super wet and so will you depending on where you sit or follow. There isn’t much of a shaded area for parents, just fold out chairs around the sides unless you retreat to the bar which is in viewing distance of the play area but we found no open or clean tables to sit and no acknowledgment from staff when entering here.
Not all outings are 100% wins and that is what we found with this one. While we loved the displays, shows, and overall feel of the Florida Aquarium it may be quite awhile before we plan a return to give it a second chance.
While our opinions may have been skewed based on our chosen day of visit I’m sure many others love and will love trying this place out.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your experiences with us!