The Best Aquariums to Discover in Florida

Burrfish | © Zisspeo / Flickr
Burrfish | © Zisspeo / Flickr
Photo of Karina Castrillo
1 December 2017

Explore Florida’s marine life with a trip to an aquarium. From interactive adventures, such as swimming with the dolphins, to learning about marine-life conservation efforts, these aquariums in the Sunshine State make it worth a visit.

Florida Aquarium

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Florida Aquarium, Tampa
Florida Aquarium, Tampa | © Walter / Flickr
With over 20,000 aquatic animals and plants, the Florida Aquarium offers visitors a chance to connect with the sea. Sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, and spiny lobsters are visible in the 500,000-gallon tank aquarium, which includes a tunnel for visitors to walk through and enjoy all-around views of the animals. Above their replica of the Dry Tortugas Park, you can have a fun snorkel adventure and swim with the fish—it’s an exciting in-water reef experience. Ideal for kids, the aquarium also boasts a playground with a waterslide and pirate ship.

Gulf World Marine Park

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A dolphin up close
A dolphin up close | © Sean MacEntee / Flickr
Swim with the dolphins at Gulf World Marine Park. Their Royal Swim tour offers guests the thrill of interacting with dolphins in the water as the sea creatures push guests from the soles of their feet to rise and glide through the water. The park also offers guests real-life encounters with penguins and harbor seals and snorkeling with stingrays.

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

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It may not be solely an aquarium, but the Frost Museum in Miami boasts a gigantic three-level aquarium where viewers can take delight in the South Florida marine life. The 500,000-gallon Gulf Stream Aquarium is home to mahi-mahi, hammerhead sharks, and stingrays. The building gives interactive views of the Everglades, Gulf Stream, and Mangrove Forests.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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Winter the Dolphin
Winter the Dolphin | © Walter / Flickr
Caring for rescued dolphins, river otters, and nurse sharks, CMA is a major rescue center known for its world-famous Winter the Dolphin—the inspiration behind the film, Dolphin Tale. Guests can get a behind-the-scenes tour of their rescue clinic and release facility and learn more about these animals. The property also boasts an underwater viewing tunnel where you can catch sights of Shipwreck Alley and see bottlenose dolphins.

Key West Aquarium

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Stingray
Stingray | © Ed Schipul / Flickr
Have you ever wanted to pet a shark? The Key West Aquarium gives visitors a chance to get up close and personal with nurse sharks and other animals. The Touching Tank allows guests to pet and feed stingrays and hold horseshoe crabs and conchs. The aquarium, which commits itself to protecting marine life, is home to a sea turtle conservation where they care for turtles that have been injured, such as their sea turtle Lola, who has a prosthetic flipper.

South Florida Science Center and Aquarium

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Seahorse
Seahorse | ©  Bevis Chin / Flickr
Located in West Palm Beach, this center features a 10,000-gallon aquarium that is home to Florida’s native fish, including the queen angelfish and stingrays, moray eels, and seahorses. Viewers can discover the different habitats as their coral reefs are replicas of Florida’s Everglades, Gulf Stream, and Open Ocean. Plus, they offer live feedings and touch demonstrations.

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