The Florida Aquarium in Tampa: Pre-Visit

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The Florida Aquarium Tampa

I decided to take my daughter on an overnight trip to The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, FL.  The decision to take a trip, just the two of us, was prompted by the fact we were missing out on a trip to Dallas, TX that we’d been somewhat planning for a couple months.  Hubby’s work moved back his work trip and it conflicted with schedules so we had to call off the family vacation part of the plan.  I was disappointed because there’s a great aquarium in Dallas that I couldn’t wait to visit.

So, I wanted to make up for it by taking a nearly 4 hour trip to the Tampa aquarium.  The idea of travelling alone with my toddler was a little nerve wracking, but decided to try it anyway.  I’ll be doing a follow up post about our experience, but I wanted to share why I chose The Florida Aquarium in Tampa in case you are looking for some kid-friendly summer activities in Florida.


For starters, who doesn’t love aquariums?  While I love visiting zoos, the idea that we’ll be in an indoor space is perfect for us to escape the Florida summer heat.  I love looking at animals and I seem to share that with Shelby, so this made sense for us.

Aside from the various habitats to explore, the aquarium offers several other features including:

Water Fun Zone – Explore a Shore is a 2-acre splash park where children climb on aquatic animals and a 2 story pirate ship.  The splash zone includes a toddler play area.

Animal Shows – Checking out the schedule, you can find the times of various programs including a penguin promenade and talks on various animals and fish.

Dining – 2 dining areas including an outdoor cafe at the splash park and an indoor sit-down dining area.  Outside food and drink is not allowed unless you have special dietary needs or are feeding formula or baby foods to your littles.

Extras

  • Wild Dolphin Cruise – approximately one hour cruise twice a day to see the dolphins that call Tampa Bay their home.  There is an added cost but you can get a discounted combo pass.
  • Extended Fun Thursdays – because the trip is estimated to take us about 4 hours, I decided that visiting on a Thursday would maximize our play time.  For the same general admission, we’re able to stay in the aquarium after normal operating hours for extra shows.  If you go to the aquarium in Tampa at 4:00 p.m. you can enter at a highly reduced rate while they offer Extended Fun Thursdays.

Children 2 and under are free, so this made the decision to visit the Tampa Bay aquarium much more affordable before Shelby turns 3.

Ways to Save

I found several ways to save on entry to the Tampa aquarium.

  1. There is a small discount by purchasing your ticket online and you can pick up your ticket at will call.
  2. If you are a member of any zoo or aquarium that is part of the AZA Reciprocity Program you could enter at 50% or 100% discount.  Jacksonville Zoo members are labelled at the 50% reciprocity rate, but you should call the aquarium to verify that the program is still applicable.
  3. Occasionally, Living Social and Groupon will run deals for The Florida Aquarium
  4. If you are staying in or near Tampa for an extended period and planning to visit several Tampa Bay attractions, purchasing the Tampa Bay CityPASS may be a great option for you.

I was not compensated  for this post.  I wanted to visit The Florida Aquarium with my daughter and all travel expenses were paid myself.

Disclosure: To help support this blog and continue to bring you free content, Ivy’s Variety posts may contain affiliate marketing links, receive free products for review, and/or consist of paid or sponsored posts. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. Please see my disclaimer page for more info.

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