Florida is a great place to find an abundance of different types of aquariums. From fresh and saltwater to reefs and rainforests, there is an aquarium in Florida for everyone. Aquariums are a great way to learn about the different types of marine life and their habitats. They are also a great way to enjoy the beauty of the underwater world.
Even though Florida is home to one of the most active Artificial Reef Programs in the US, there’s something about being enclosed in a dark, humid tropical climate that makes you feel refreshed and energized. It’s also a great way to learn more about nature.
The best way to get your mind off things for the day is to dive into one of these beautiful tropical aquariums.
What is the Number One Aquarium in Florida?
If you’re thinking of visiting Florida, you may be wondering what’s the best aquarium.
There are plenty of great options to consider, and you can even get a free admission ticket for active-duty military and Florida residents.
If you’re looking for something a little different, check out Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Its exhibits include an underwater viewing tank, mermaids, various sea creatures, and bottlenose dolphins.
You can also experience “Whales Living With Giants” at this museum.
Clearwater is also known for its great restaurants and beaches.
This aquarium is best known for its rescue missions, bringing in many species of marine life and releasing them back into the wild.
While you’re there, be sure to take the time to interact with these majestic creatures, including the dolphins and other marine life. Dolphins can be spotted here, and the aquarium was featured in the movie “Dolphin Tale 2” (starring Michael Douglas).
In addition to the Gulf of Mexico, Florida has many aquariums that are worth visiting.
You’ll find everything from dolphins to stingrays in these places. The Florida Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Florida and spans over 250,000 square feet.
Its mission is to save endangered species and is a leading environmental organization in the state.
When you visit, don’t forget to check out the many conservation projects that the Florida Aquarium has undertaken.
What is the Largest Aquarium in Florida?
There are three major aquariums in Florida:
- The Miami Aquarium offers exhibits from both marine and freshwater environments.
The three-level Aquarium is close to Fort Lauderdale and home to several species of shark and the world’s third-largest barrier reef.
While you’re there, you have to see the marine touch tank and interact with their sea animals such as live conchs, sea stars, horseshoe crabs, giant hermit crabs, sea urchins, and several exotic species of reptiles.
You can also learn about the unique habitats of different types of fish and invertebrates.
- Another large aquarium in Florida is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
It is known for its rescue missions, saving many types of marine animals.
The animals are then released back into the wild. It also provides close encounters with these animals, so even children can get up close to these majestic creatures.
You can even interact with the dolphins, which have been featured in the movie Dolphin Tale 2.
- SEA LIFE Aquarium Orlando is another large aquarium with over 5,000 animals.
Located on International Drive in Central Florida, the aquarium features over two million gallons of water. It is home to magnificent ocean animals such as bonnethead sharks, colorful clownfish, and curious sea turtles.
Many of the animals at SEA LIFE Orlando are endangered.
You can also view all types of aquatic life and pacific-dwelling species such as sea cucumbers or sea stars.
If you’re looking for an immersive experience, take your kids through the 360-degree underwater tunnel.
They’ll enjoy the touch tank and have the chance to get up close and personal with sea life.
Here are 13 of our Top Aquariums in Florida
1. The Florida Aquarium
While most people think of the Florida Aquarium as a place to see dolphins and manatees, it’s also home to a beautiful coral reef. The reef is home to over 500 different species of fish, making it a popular destination for snorkelers and scuba divers.
The Florida Aquarium is committed to protecting the coral reef and its inhabitants. They offer educational programs about the importance of coral reefs and the threats they face from climate change and pollution.
The aquarium also participates in research projects aimed at improving the health of coral reefs around the world.
The Florida Aquarium is grouped as one of the best aquariums in the USA, and that is for a good reason, you can cool off without getting wet. The Splash Pad is a great place to play and cool down on a hot day.
With plenty of room to run around, it’s perfect for families with kids of all ages.
It is one of the best indoor family-friendly tourist spots in Tampa, featuring an average-sized aquarium that is easy to navigate.
The Aquarium, located on the southeastern edge of downtown Tampa, is home to a massive collection of marine life consisting of about 14000 animals.
According to past visitors, it may take you close to three hours at the very least to make it through the maze of stingrays, sea turtles, and moray eels living here in their natural habitats, but high chances are your kids will tire before then.
Open every day from 9.30 am to 5 pm, the Florida Aquarium welcomes you to breathtaking views of local wildlife and resident animals, including sharks, turtles, eels, moon jellies, and stingrays among the coral reefs, river otters, pelicans, gar, and gator from local habitats, lemurs and tortoises from the rain forest and much more.
While you’re there one of the best things to see is the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center.
It houses four rehabilitation pools, deep-dive foraging pools, and a state-of-the-art veterinary suite.
Here, the team conducts vital health research to improve care techniques for sea turtles and increase their return to their natural habitat.
Here, you will discover the natural environment’s wonders and learn about the animals that call this place home.
While at it, make it a point to experience the Ocean Decade Exhibition, a traveling global art showcase that features unique and thought-provoking digital works of art emphasizing the importance of the oceans and conservation.
2. SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium
SEA LIFE Orlando allows you to discover something unique- a chance to come face to fin with sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, and other marine life.
The destination prepares you for a world of glittering scales, razor-sharp teeth, and humongous tentacles.
Whether you are looking to plunge deep into the ocean, meet a friendly rescue sea turtle, touch the exotic starfish and anemones, or explore the 360-degree ocean tunnel- SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium meets it all.
Immerse yourself beneath the sea waves of SEA LIFE and get closer to the creatures and features of the world’s oceans.
It is more than a trip to see animals; SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium promises you a visit like no other!
3. Clearwater Marine Aquarium
This non-profit organization and Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida, is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick and injured marine animals.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium believes in preserving the environment while inspiring the human spirit.
Experience a different atmosphere throughout the Aquarium as you watch the rescued marine animals interact in new ways.
The Aquarium offers entertainment, family-friendly activities, festive food, drinks, and sparkling water views where you can experience all the magic happening around you.
Get to board a free 3o-minute boat tour during the Summer Glow hours after 4 pm and discover the beautiful local waters and wildlife.
During Summer Glow evenings, you can go to the beach first, relax, and enjoy extended hours at the Aquarium with family and friends or spend extra time with the rescued marine animals.
Alternatively, you can try the ultimate virtual reality experience at CMA’s VR Theater located on the upper level, which features state-of-the-art motion platform VR technology that transports guests into a unique experience.
While at it, discover new festive food and beverages, including dolphin pretzels, fun treats, and Dippin’ Dot dolphin sundaes for the whole family during Summer Glow.
4. Miami Seaquarium
Discover Miami’s best Aquarium and favorite visitor attraction and experience world-class sea life exhibits with manatees, penguins, rays, sea turtles, and more.
Miami has a lot to offer kids, but none beats a day spent at Miami Seaquarium.
At Miami Seaquarium, you will get to explore the ocean’s most loved creatures and feel the incredible power of these creatures with a dorsal pull, handshake, and a lot more.
Introduce your children to their special seal friends and let them receive hugs and take part in fun training sessions.
Besides all the entertainment, championing conservation and animal care through environmental stewardship and education is the main agenda here, demonstrated every day in the commitment displayed by the staff in rescue, rehabilitation, education, and outreach.
Sealife of Miami Seaquarium will delight and astound whether it is swimming deep beneath the surface or leaping high above the water.
Discover the Royal Swim, the most fun and unique program at Miami Seaquarium, designed to exceed all your expectations. Here, you will feel the thrill of a foot push carried out by two dolphins pushing you from the soles of your feet.
At the same time, you also have a chance to experience unique dorsal tow by two dolphins. A chance to get up close with a dolphin from out of the water is one that no family should miss.
The Miami Seaquarium is famous for its shows featuring killer whales, sea lions, and dolphins.
5. Gulf World Marine Park
The Gulf World Marine Park, for over 20 years, has added to the study and conservation of marine mammals, allowing a bond of love of respect through the best interaction experience in unique habitats around the world.
The Gulf World Marine Park opens daily from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm and is located in the Florida Panhandle about 5 miles northwest of downtown Panama City Beach off Front Beach Road.
The Aquarium features harbor seals 22 dolphin habitats, five parks, one Aquarium, one marina, ten countries, and one continent in dolphin discovery.
The royal swim is one of the most fun and unique programs, designed to exceed all your expectations, and here, you will get to experience the thrill of the foot-push caused by the dolphins raising you above the water surface by pushing you from the soles of your feet.
On the other hand, the swim adventure offers a fast and exciting ride with the dolphin while you hang onto their pectoral fins in the magnificent belly ride.
The Dolphin Encounter is a program for all ages.
It is designed to have a great learning experience and meeting to help you know more about the incredible dolphins by interacting with them.
Even so, the Gulf World Marine Park is so much more than an aquarium.
At this park, you will find indoor and outdoor tropical gardens and exhibits showcasing flamingos, penguins, sea turtles, sharks, and much more.
6. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
A great way to introduce your kids to the world of marine animals is to take them to the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Jacksonville, Florida.
The aquarium has nine exhibits, two interactive areas, and a 135,000-gallon shark tank.
Mote Marine Laboratory is a world-renowned marine research institution located in Sarasota, Florida. Founded in 1955, Mote has been at the forefront of groundbreaking research on a variety of marine topics.
Kids can explore the wonders of the water cycle in the Planet H2O exhibit. Students perform mini-experiments that help them understand the water cycle.
Be prepared to get wet! In another exhibit, Shark Scientist, students learn about the importance of shark research. They will have the opportunity to ‘tag’ a shark and present their findings.
The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium have two main buildings. One is indoor and the other is outdoor.
The former has partially covered exteriors, allowing for a more temperate climate. The latter features habitats for marine animals and is accessible from the second floor.
You can also bring service dogs to the aquarium.
The Mote Aquarium offers high-tech interactive exhibits and touch pools.
It showcases the world-class research of the Mote Marine Laboratory. It has over 100 marine species, including sharks and stingrays.
It also houses a sea turtle rehabilitation hospital. In addition to a variety of exhibits, the Mote Aquarium offers educational programs for families and volunteer opportunities.
Today, Mote is home to more than 150 scientists and staff members who are working to solve some of the most pressing challenges facing our oceans.
From studying the impacts of red tide and other harmful algal blooms to developing new technologies for sustainably harvesting fish, Mote is dedicated to protecting and restoring our oceans for future generations.
If you’re looking for a place to get your hands wet and learn about the amazing creatures that call the ocean home, Mote Marine Laboratory is the perfect place for you!
7. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters
At the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, you can get up close and personal with the aquatic animals of Florida!
Getting to know these amazing creatures is the first step in protecting them. That’s why they offer a variety of programs and events that allow you to interact with the animals in their care.
From behind-the-scenes tours to hands-on educational opportunities, Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters provides a unique experience for everyone who visits.
It’s one of the best places in not only South Florida but the United States to learn about marine life, with a variety of exhibits, hands-on activities, and thrilling attractions.
The Aquarium Encounters program allows you to feed and touch marine animals, and even take part in conservation efforts. You can also take a guided tour to learn more about the animals and their habitat.
Interactive experiences include feeding and touching debarbed stingrays and docile baby nurse sharks.
A staff marine biologist provides an informative introduction to the various creatures.
Afterward, you can snorkel in the shallow protected lagoon and enjoy refreshments from the on-site concession cafe.
You can also check out the open-air gift shop. The interactive experiences are also available for schools and groups to participate in educational activities.
The Aquarium’s Touch Tank and Atlantic Shore Exhibit highlight the aquarium’s natural underwater beauty. Visitors can reach out and touch aquarium creatures like rays and alligators.
A 50,000-gallon Atlantic Shore exhibit re-creates the ecosystem of a mangrove forest and includes several species of tropical fish. Other exhibits at the Florida Keys Aquarium include jellyfish and sea turtles.
8. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Come one, come all to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park! This is the perfect place to take your family for a fun day out. There is something for everyone at the Gulfarium.
Dolphin Adventure Aquarium is a unique place that features dolphin encounters, sharks, rays, and dolphin shows.
The Dolphin Adventure Aquarium opened in 1955 and offers a unique opportunity to interact with dolphins and other marine life.
The park is a must-see destination for anyone who loves dolphins and the ocean.
Besides the aquarium, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park also has several attractions to offer families.
The park’s exhibits include sea lions, dolphins, seals, penguins, otters, alligators, exotic birds, sharks, and other sea creatures. You can also listen to informative chats from trainers while you learn about the creatures.
If you’re looking for a unique family activity, you can schedule a private dolphin or sea lion show.
The park also offers professional photo opportunities with the dolphins. The park also features a gift shop that allows you to purchase souvenirs.
You can explore the park on foot. You’ll need to purchase admission tickets ahead of time to secure these unique experiences.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is located in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The park is only 5 miles from Destin and a mile from downtown Fort Walton Beach.
You can visit this family attraction during the spring and summer months. Be prepared for the crowds, though, as Gulfarium can get busy during these months.
If you’re looking for an educational experience, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is the place to go. Here you’ll find amazing exhibits featuring dolphins, sea lions, penguins, and other marine life native to the Emerald Coast. You’ll learn about different species and how to help protect them.
If you are looking for exciting animal encounters, we have them!
You can meet and learn about all sorts of cool creatures like dolphins, penguins, and sea lions.
We also have an amazing aquarium where you can see fish from all over the world.
For those who like to get their adrenaline pumping, we have a thrilling water slide that will make your heart race.
And if you just want to relax, you can take a leisurely stroll through our beautiful gardens.
9. Marine Science Center
Visiting the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet a town in Volusia County, Florida is a great way to learn about the ocean and its many inhabitants. The center offers a variety of exhibits and programs that will educate and entertain visitors of all ages.
The Marine Science Center has a unique touch pool where visitors can touch and stroke stingrays that have been rescued.
The facility also has two different types of artificial reef aquariums, and the center works to rehabilitate injured seabirds and turtles. The center also has outdoor boardwalks and a bird observation tower.
The main attraction at the Marine Science Center is the Dolphin Lagoon, where guests can watch dolphins swim, play, and interact with each other. The lagoon also has a viewing area where you can see dolphins up close and learn about their behavior and ecology.
In addition to the Dolphin Lagoon, the Marine Science Center has several other exhibits that focus on different aspects of marine science. The center also offers educational programs for both children of all ages and adults.
Whether you’re interested in learning about dolphins or just want to enjoy a day at the beach, the Marine Science Center is a great place to visit.
10. IMAG History & Science Center
If you are interested in hands-on learning, the IMAG History & Science Center is the place for you. Located in Fort Myers, Florida, this museum is filled with exhibits about dinosaurs, fossils, small animals, and the Calusa culture.
Admission to the museum is free and you can visit at any time. The museum is also great for groups.
You can take your family, friends, co-workers, and school groups. Even history enthusiasts can enjoy the exhibits. The museum takes great measures to ensure that everyone has a safe, enjoyable time.
There are more than 60 interactive exhibits on display at IMAG, covering a range of topics. There are also three-dimensional theaters, touch tanks, and virtual reality exhibits.
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, with some exceptions. Thanksgiving and Easter Sunday are the only days the museum is closed.
The IMAG History & Science Center is a great destination for families. The interactive exhibits and aquariums engage children and families in STEM education and the history of Southwest Florida.
The museum also offers educational programs to help them develop an appreciation for the natural environment and culture of the area. A visit to IMAG is a fun and educational experience that will make your child’s day.
The IMAG History & Science Center is a Blue Star Museum, meaning that military personnel, the National Guard, and their families are welcome for free admission. You can check out a list of Blue Star Museums here.
The IMAG History & Science Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thanksgiving Day. It is funded by the Lee County Tourist Development Council.
The IMAG History & Science Center is a wonderful place for families to visit, and the IMAG exhibits are interactive and fun for everyone.
It has more than 60 interactive STEM exhibits that are sure to interest everyone. The center also has a 3D virtual reality experience where you can experience Fort Myers’ history.
Among the other interactive exhibits at the IMAG History & Science Center is Science on a Sphere, which uses Google Earth Wall technology to project facts onto a huge globe.
This experience will teach kids about space, the ocean, and history.
11. St Augustine Aquarium
If you’re in the mood for a fun day out with the family, a visit to the St. Augustine Aquarium in St. Augustine, Florida is a great way to get some great family memories. The aquarium is located at 2045 Fl-16 and features over 250 animals in its habitat.
The aquarium’s location is convenient for visiting the city, near Interstate 95 and St. Augustine Outlets, as well as next to a Courtyard Marriott.
The aquarium hopes to attract local residents and out-of-town visitors, as well as school groups. Visitors will love the interactive exhibits and the shark feeding.
The Aquarium’s colorful exhibits feature hundreds of Florida sea creatures, and visitors can engage in interactive activities with the animals.
For instance, you can snorkel with Florida reef fish, see sea cucumbers shoot their intestines at predators, and learn about electric eels’ ability to produce 500 watts of electricity.
If you’re a fan of sharks, the St. Augustine Aquarium is a great place to see them up close.
Visitors can explore indoor and outdoor exhibits, and meet knowledgeable aquarium employees. You can even take a snorkeling adventure in their 80,000-gallon tank.
Visitors can also feed sharks, stingrays, and invertebrates. There is also a fun, interactive experience that children will love.
The Aquarium is open daily during the summer months, and you can also visit the museum’s beach for a shark tooth dig and a hands-on exhibit with seahorses.
The aquarium’s guided tours are an essential part of the aquarium experience. These tours give visitors the chance to get up close and personal with the marine life without having to pay a dime.
Some of these tours include nurse shark feeding and petting experiences, and the opportunity to snorkel with a stingray.
Smaller Aquariums in Florida
12. Key West Aquarium
While there are several large aquariums in the state, it is best to check out the Key West Aquarium, which is a smaller aquarium.
Key West Aquarium has become a home for many invasive species from South Florida.
It is known for its family-friendly activities and offers several unique experiences for the entire family. For example, you can feed sharks, see hammerhead sharks touch coral, and even hold a live stingray!
Besides all of this, Key West Aquarium is free for kids under four.
This aquarium is also open on Saturdays and is very popular these days.
However, it is worth the visit, especially if the weather is particularly warm.
13. Tarpon Springs Aquarium
The Tarpon Springs Aquarium is a family-run facility with an engaging display for children and adults.
They are partners with eco-friendly groups and animal welfare groups to create an environment where animals are cared for and appreciated.
This aquarium offers three daily performances where divers swim among massive animals and feed the Florida marine life.
The aquarium also offers educational programs and focuses on learning about the area’s ecosystems. At the end of the day, visiting an aquarium is fun for all ages.
If you are planning a vacation to the Sunshine State, be sure to visit the Seas with Nemo & Friends aquarium at Walt Disney World.
This aquarium features over 5,000 animals and a five-million-gallon water tank. In addition, it features educational programs and ocean research.
If you’re planning a family trip to Florida, be sure to take your kids to the Seas with Nemo & Friends aquarium.
Aquariums are a popular tourist attraction in Florida. The see-through touch tanks allow visitors to get up close and personal with the aquatic plants and creatures.
The great time spent at the aquarium is made even better by the fact that general admission is usually very affordable, and many of them are located within a short drive from most major cities.
The permanent residents of the aquarium are not only there for our viewing pleasure but also play an important role in wildlife rescue.
There are so many amazing things to explore in an aquarium that you just have to make available time.
The best way to get your mind off things for the day, take your vacation to the next level and dive into one of these beautiful, popular attractions.
If you are looking for something different from the usual aquariums in Florida, go ahead and on your next Florida vacation, give any of these aquariums a try!
You will be glad you did!