Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Florida Aquarium Makes for an Awesome Day Trip!


The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, FL (buy tickets in person, online or get one with a CityPASS Tampa) was my daughter's idea. We were in town so she could see a concert, but weeks before she'd expressed her interest in visiting an aquarium. I'm always down for an aquatic experience, so after a little research this gem of a spot was found. This was unlike any aquarium I'd been in before. You could definitely see that care was taken to ensure the inhabitants had as natural of a place to live as possible, and they looked happy, all of them...but especially the otters who swam and dove, and played like crazy!! So cool to watch (no pictures though, they were behind glass and very fast). Everyone standing there stayed a good long while. It was truly mesmerizing to watch them having so much fun. I only left when my girl started grouching at me, 'Mom come ooooon!' to leave. Good thing she did...or I might still be there. ;)



Hello Lover! 
As you walk through the facility, there are many directions you can take, and different levels. We started with what was right in front of us, and just kept a'moving. After the otters, we passed this 'little fella.' There's something so predatory about alligators. They just seem so disinterested, but you suspect they are keenly aware of everything going on around them just the same. I'm in awe, truly.


Each little area had its own distinct environment, and everyone seemed right at home. The open areas under a big glass dome made it feel as if you were in another place altogether. It was exciting when you would come across one of the animals dwelling there.

The 'Mangrove Forest' was pretty spectacular
I love Mangroves. I am a little intimidated by them (what is living under there?!?) and a lot in love with them. There's something mystical/magical about walking through them. One of my most favorite beaches has a mangrove-lined entryway and it never gets old. I always stop and take a few pictures. Always.


This Mangrove set-up at the Florida Aquarium was cool because you could see the fish swimming around through the glass basin. I loved this because usually you only get an above water view. It was nice to be able to see some of the underwater action going on as well.


Of course the colorful view of underwater life is always on display in an aquarium, and there was no exception here. Pinks, yellows, greens, browns and the beautiful blue of the water made for many lovely displays.


The lobsters looked healthy and happy. Far better to see them here versus the tank I usually see them in (the grocery store). I can't be the only one who thinks it's awful that they are bound and ready to eat at the store, lol, and don't even get me started on the restaurants that have lobster tanks. You might be saying, 'yum, yum' but I'm definitely thinking, 'eek!' I'm getting off track though, I know. Let's keep moving. :)


A huge tank full of underwater wonders was on display. This 500,000 gallon tank went floor to ceiling and had a beautiful Moray Eel swimming around. It was extremely agile and moved around very quickly. Of course he was able to get in and through the smallest of places, and that was awesome to watch.


The Stingrays in this tank were huge. I always like to see the underbelly of them. They look like they have little smiley faces. :)


Of course catching sight of any shark is amazing. My oldest son went swimming with the sharks not long ago. Better him than me. I'll watch from the outside of the glass, thank you very much. :)


The jelly fish are always cute to see (again, if you're on the other side of the glass). There were some teeny tiny ones in here. They kind of look like living, transparent mushrooms. Does anyone else think of Sponge Bob when they see jellies?


Nemo was there...and so was his cousin. ;)


There was a place upstairs where you could see down to the 1st floor. We looked down to see a penguin. Cute little guy, right?


A small crowd started to gather to hear the informational going on about him. 


That presentation was being held right outside of the research station. I wonder if he was being housed inside. We weren't close enough to hear what was going on, and wouldn't have been able to get down there in time to listen (the aquarium is huge!). I bet it was interesting though. I always love to learn new facts about things we've seen forever and a day but may not know all that much about (like penguins).


This large area here was a hit with my son and daughter, to your left in the photo above. They were actively there for quite some time, looking for a real shark's tooth. If you found one, you got to take it home (just one). 


They each found one. :)  Here is my son holding up some of the debris so you can see what they were sifting through. I'm not sure why it was so fun to both of them, but I love when they both are totally into something at the same time. Always makes me delighted to see that sibling thing going on. Maybe I'm getting sappier as I get older (a fact I embrace, lol), but these little moments are truly the ones that leave my heart full of happy. I'm very blessed and fortunate that they happen often in our family.


When you visit the Florida Aquarium, there are optional Experiences you can pay to do. One allows you to dive with the sharks, stingrays, eels, turtles, etc.,

I mildly wanted to take a cruise...and then I saw them docked
behind The Florida Aquarium. Now I have cruise ship fever and can't wait for us to book a trip of our own!

Another Experience you can book is the Wild Dolphin Cruise. That's the one we opted to do, and I will be writing about our experience with that soon blogged about that in a post you can read here. In the waiting area to board there is a kid zone. The play area had wet (splash pad) and dry elements, and a sandbox too. There is a hut to order something to drink. There is also outdoor seating if you want to pick up something from the full-service cafe and bring it out (you can sit inside too). We did order and eat there. The food was good and the prices were very reasonable. It was the docked cruise ships that were the marvel for me though!! I've never seen one up close and personal and I was hooked the second I did. I'd love to get on board and explore. Just look at it (it looks like a building there in the background)!! It's a real beauty!!


We passed my buddy again on the way to another part of the aquarium. I had to get another pic. Honestly, he's just so cool. I wouldn't touch him for a million bucks but he's sure awesome to look at (through that glass). I don't know anything about alligators, I'll be the first to admit. I wonder if he was looking at the people looking in, or if he could see his reflection?  The foot you see furthest away (on your left) is on top of another alligator. They were both entirely still and chill at bottom of the tank (completely submerged underwater). I have wondered what they do under the water, now I have gotten a glimpse. :)

Journey to Madagascar!
Before we left for the day, we had to take a visit to "Madagascar." I was hoping to hear "I like to move it" on the radio, but no such luck! I'm kidding! We did get to see a couple of owls on the way up that looked cute enough to cuddle (in an untouchable area, so no cuddling for us). ;)


The ring tailed lemurs were cute, and definitely fun to watch. This was my favorite exhibit in this area. I saw online where you could crawl through a tree of hissing cockroaches here if you wanted. Do they fly like Palmetto bugs? I don't know (I don't think they do), but there was no way that was anywhere on the agenda. I run in terror if I even hear the word 'cockroach.' Add the word 'hissing,' and I'm the one that's doing the flying.


I took pictures while we were up high of some of the exhibits we had already seen. They really did a great job of reproducing natural-looking habitats here. I'm sure a lot of time, money and research went into doing so.


When it was time to go, we decided to go back the way we came in so we could see the otters again (really, they were so energetic and fun!).


And so I could say goodbye to my 'friend.'


We had a fun morning/afternoon there. You could spend a little or a lot of time inside. We stayed about 5 hours, including the 90 minutes we did on the Wild Dolphin Cruise. We could have easily stayed longer and been perfectly content.


If you get a chance to visit The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida, I hope you will take full advantage. It was definitely a destination to remember.


 Learn more by visiting their website. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and/or YouTube. I also want to note that if you get a CityPASS a complimentary ticket to The Florida Aquarium is in the book!

32 comments:

  1. I love aquariums. Most delightful places to visit and learn about all the life in the sea. I've not been in years. I probably need to fix that.

    Have a fabulous weekend. ♥

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  2. That's an impressive aquarium. Pass on swimming with sharks though. They certainly had a lot of different animals.

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  3. Hi Rosey - you obviously all had a huge amount of fun and learnt lots as well as some questions to look up etc ... It seems like a really good Aquarium and so well kept ... I think if I ever get to Florida I'd go there ... lovely photos - thanks - cheers Hilary

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  4. When I lived in Tampa (39 years ago) we visit many different sites, although, everything is different now. The penguin is so adorable. My son favors them and any type of bird. Alligators frighten me anytime. Your son is braver than me I would never swim anywhere near a shark!!!

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  5. Now this sounds like such an interesting place to get to go and visit. I have to admit I love looking around aquariums but it has been years since I went to one.

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  6. Thanks for allowing me to see what the Florida aquarium is all about. The pictures were awesome and held me captive.

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  7. That eel looks a bit freaky. Not sure my ocd would let me go digging for shark teeth lol Lemurs sure look a bit bewildered, bet they are wondering why such creatures are staring at them all day.

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  8. I've actually been, and it was wonderful. But, not a day trip from Tennessee. :(

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  9. wow! looks like you saw a lot, i have come to really enjoy seeing things like this on my travels. I did a night safari recently while i was in bale and it was fantastic! great pictures

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  10. When I saw Florida Aquarium, I perked up. I live in South Florida and have never been to this one. I'd like to go and compare it to the one in Orlando. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. My uncle just took my little cousins to this the other day and was telling me how much the kiddos enjoyed it. I grew up in South Florida.

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  12. This looks like a wonderful place to visit. We haven't been to an aquarium in a few years but I know that my 3 year old would love it!! I wish we could come down to Florida!

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  13. This place looks incredible, I love aquariums i find them so peaceful. It looks like a great day out

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  14. Any day at an aquarium is an awesome time. I would love to go to the Florida one!

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  15. I visited my very first aquarium in Japan. I would love to spend the day here

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  16. As many times I went to FL I never knew they had an Aquarium. Wow and it looks interactive too!

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  17. It is always great to go to the aquarium!!!! I love the jelly fish and Broxton loves the penguins... always!!!

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  18. I haven't been to the aqarium in years. I grew up in Fl and this was one of my favorite day trips:)

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  19. ah my 4 year old niece loves aquariums! i am going to have to take her to this one one day it looks like so much fun

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  20. I didn't even know this place existed and it looks really cool. I will definitely have to drive down with my twins to check it out.

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  21. I agree, one of the most zen places you can go is the aquarium. That's neat that they let you keep a shark tooth! If we ever get back down to Florida, we're definitely adding a stop here to our itinerary.

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  22. This does look like such an awesome aquarium that you have there. I love the focus on local animals that are in the water and oceans. It's so cool. I wish we had things with more alligators and crocodiles here.

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  23. I love going to the aquarium! I haven't been in quite a long time, but its very delightful going. Thanks for sharing.

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  24. I'm so glad to read that the animals are well taken care of there ;) It definitely looks like a great place, and I loved your captions! I bet the otters were extremely cute.

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  25. We have been to several aquariums over the years with our son. The thing that had me excited about this place was the Swim & dive AND sea turtles!!

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  26. I always like to see jelly fish in aquariums. How fun.

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  27. I remember going here quite often as a kid!! Do they not still have the stingray tank where you can pet them? They used to have that when I went. I'm glad you got to make new friends ;P and have fun!!

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  28. We love to visit the aquarium. This one looks like they really did do a great job with showing the natural habitats of the animals.

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  29. Normally I dont visit aquarium however, this one is really unique. Can spend some time on weekend with my kids :)

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  30. I love, love, love aquariums. I've been to Floriday several times but unfortunately haven't been to the Florida museum as of yet - will check it out next time. Your photos are awesome!

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  31. I'd love to visit an aquarium like that someday. Aquarium life fascinates me. You captured some great pics.

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  32. Very nice I like aquariums.. Never been to florida.. maybe one day

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