day trip Florida review travel Uncategorized

Florida Aquarium: Tampa CityPASS

The Florida Aquarium is located in Tampa Bay, Florida. Tampa Bay if you didn’t know is on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The aquarium was opened back in March of 1995 in the Channel District of Downtown Tampa. 

The Florida Aquarium is accredited with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums meaning they are one of the leaders in conservation and education. If you take your time and read you will learn a lot about the over 10,000 animals at the Aquarium. 

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The Florida Aquarium is one of the attractions you can visit when you get the Tampa CityPASS. I highly recommend getting the CityPASS when you are going to visit Tampa. For more info on the Tampa CityPASS read my post that just highlights each attraction here.  

MOON BAY

You can’t miss Moon Bay. It is right in the center of the aquarium and has a huge display screen. Here you can touch Jellyfish. That’s right I said TOUCH jellyfish.

Don’t worry they don’t sting. But you do need to be very gentle with them. Since these sea creatures are almost clear, the water is illuminated by color changing lights.

Moon Bay, Moon Jellies, Tampa CityPass, Florida Aquarium

Don’t pass up this opportunity. From what I was told there are only 3 other places in the US where you can touch jellyfish. I know I’ve been to a couple different aquariums and while I’ve touched plenty of string rays and sand sharks.

I’ve never gotten the chance to touch jellyfish (outside of being stung at the Jersey Shore) any where. Your kids will die for the chance to touch them. The touching stations are set up in two areas and you get a couple minutes to see and touch the moon jellies. Be sure to ask the staffer any questions you have. They are very knowledgeable.

WETLANDS

Start your day by exploring all the different animals that make up Florida’s Wetland ecosystem. It can be a little warm in there so be prepared. The rest of the aquarium is comfortable but the wetland area is beneath a tall glass atrium.

You will find all kind of animals here. See the terrifying American Alligator.

You can also find river otters, pythons, red drum and many other species. Be sure to look up as well. There are a few free roaming birds flying around. And what ever you do. DON’T put you hands in the water.

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The animals poop in it. I did find that sign very funny. You always tell your kids to keep there hands out of the water and they ask why. Now you know to tell them that the animals poop in the water.

If you enjoy taking pictures of the animals this is a great spot for that. The lighting is much better here than anywhere else in the aquarium. And you can get pretty close with a zoom lens without them moving.

Looking down at the Wetlands from Madagascar

JOURNEY TO MADAGASCAR

As you work you way around the Wetlands area under the glass atrium be sure to walk up the steps. You will be transported to Madagascar. Here you will find colorful fish.

The Madagascar Gecko. Yes, it looks like the one from the commercials. Hissing Cockroaches. Tomato frog and many other interesting animals.

But my favorite animal in this area has got to be the ring tail lemur. They just look so peaceful. The Florida aquarium has 3 lemurs that have come from St. Catherine’s Island, a lemur conservation site off the coast of Georgia


BAYS AND BEACHES

As you would guess it this area of the aquarium is all about what you will find in the Bays and along the beaches. There are many fantastic sea creatures that call these two areas home. One of the coolest has got to be the garden eel.

At first I couldn’t make out what it was. Than I wasn’t sure if it was real, alive or dead. Than it started to move. These things are really cool. You and your kids are sure to love these. It might even be on your top 5 list.

This is also the area where you can touch the string rays. The touching pool is a pretty big size. Not sure if this one here is larger or the one at Adventure Aquarium in Camden NJ.

Right when you exit the Bay and Beaches exhibit there is a little touch tank that has some weird and cool feeling marine life. There are sea stars, sea cucumbers and a few others. The stars like to stay just out of reach.

Go ahead touch it
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CORAL REEF

Now the highlight of the Florida Aquarium is the Coral Reef Exhibit. This 500,000 gallon tank is filled with natural sea water which is replaced 4 times a year.

Florida Aquarium, Tampa CityPass, Tampa Bay, Coral Reef, Sharks, Fish, sea turtles, string rays

Come and sit or stand by the large viewing windows and be amazed by this wonderful marine life. When visiting places like this, it makes you really think of ways you can help preserve there natural habitats.

Florida Aquarium, Tampa CityPass, Tampa Bay, Coral Reef, Sea turtle, Fish

Make sure your plastic bags go in the garbage and not taken by the wind. Sea Turtles end up eating a little of plastic bags since in the water the bags look a lot like jellyfish which sea turtles eat. It’s something you never think of. But when you visit aquariums you learn about.

Florida Aquarium, Tampa CityPass, Tampa Bay, Coral Reef, Sharks, Fish
Sand Tiger Shark

The sharks in the Coral Reef exhibit are very menacing looking. While I wouldn’t want to put my hand anywhere near it’s mouth. They do make for some interesting photos.

Florida Aquarium, Tampa CityPass, Tampa Bay, Coral Reef, Sharks, Fish
Coral Reef Exhibit
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THE SPLASH PAD

The best part for any kid is the Splash Pad. Who doesn’t want to get soaking wet in the middle of summer? It’s a great place for the kids to cool off and burn a little bit of energy. The Splash Pad is included with your admission to the aquarium.

FOOD

The food at the Florida Aquarium is decent. While you are not going to be talking about the burger you ate here months ago. It’s not going to be the worst food you’ve ever had at an aquarium, zoo, theme park or museum.

I will say I think the kids meal is a good value. Currently it is $8. For that price you get to choose from a hot dog, PB&J, Grilled Cheese or Chicken Fingers. You also get apple sauce, gold fish crackers, Milk or capri-sun, keepsake bag and special treat.

For adults they have a few different options for us too. Of course you can get a hot dog and burgers. You can also get buffalo chicken tenders, Panini’s, Cuban Sandwich, pizza and more. There is also an area that serves beer and mixed drinks.

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The Florida Aquarium is a great place to spend a few hours at while in the Tampa Area. Be sure to get the Tampa CityPASS so you can visit a few different attractions the Tampa area has to offer and save money while doing it.

I suggest you look at staying at the La Quinta Inn near Busch Gardens. You would right across the street from Busch Gardens. All of the other CityPASS attractions are close by as well. Hit up the Tampa Zoo, Florida Aquarium and Clearwater Marine Aquarium on one day. On the next enjoy all the roller coasters at Busch Gardens.

The Florida Aquarium really is a great place to check out. Besides where else can you touch a jellyfish?

Have you ever been to the Florida Aquarium? Do you ever visit Tampa when vacationing at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments below. Remember to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest at KozmoPhotos. It will help you stay up to date and in the know when we post the other CityPASS attractions we will be reviewing.

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