If you are looking for a great place to visit in the summer heat The Florida Aquarium fits the bill.  There’s lots to see and do, and most of it is inside where it is nice and cool. Perfect for a summer afternoon.  To make it even better this is an attraction that is a lot of fun whether or not you are traveling as a family with small kids.

We spent the day wandering around looking at all of the animals and aquariums, but there is quite a lot more to do here.  They offer a wild dolphin cruise, behind the scenes tours, and even several snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. There’s even a Shark Swim where you can snorkel in the tank with a giant turtle and sand tiger sharks, not to mention lots of others creatures swimming with you. This one is on my to-do list.  These adventures do have an additional cost beyond the admission fee.

The aquarium has a new exhibit that is pretty unusual in my experience. The website says it’s the fourth of it’s kind in North America, but it’s a first for me.  Moon Bay is a touch experience, where you can touch moon jellies.  They are beautiful, unusual creatures that would be right at home in a science fiction movie.

The aquarium has two other touch tanks, one for sting rays and another, the ‘No Bones Zone’ where you can touch starfish, sea cucumbers and other no backbone anemones.

The Wetlands Trail takes you on a walk through the Florida wetlands (of course). Here they have otters, alligators, Florida birds, snakes and too much more to mention. I saw in person some of those fish with human-looking teeth.  I kind of wanted them to be a internet hoax, but no. They’re Sheepshead fish and they are kind of cool, but mostly not.

My favorite part of The Florida Aquarium is the section with the seahorses and jellyfish. It is just so peaceful to watch the jellyfish swirl around in the tanks. There are the most fascinating creatures here, from sea dragons to pipefish.

Beyond all of the animal and fish exhibits (there are a lot more than I mention here) and experiences to be had at the aquarium there is plenty more to do. If you’re visiting with kids you have to stop by the Splash Pad which is a big water park for the wee ones. Since it’s outside it is weather dependent. They also have a 4D theater and a cafe.  On my recent trip I did nothing but walk through the exhibits and spent about 2 and a half hours; if you take advantage of all the aquarium has to offer you could easily spend most of a day at The Florida Aquarium.

Here’s what you need to know to play tourist:

701 Channelside Dr.
Tampa, FL 33602

 (813) 273-4000