Stingray and reef fish swimming by at a Florida Aquarium. Florida.
Stingray and reef fish swimming by at a Florida Aquarium. Florida.

Visit The Top 10 Best Aquariums In Florida

Amazing Florida Aquariums To Explore After Or Before Your Cruise.

By Taylor Fuller | Published on July 21, 2022

When you plan your visit to Florida, your itinerary likely includes lots of outdoor time enjoying the beach and ocean. After all, that's what the Sunshine State is all about. With the ocean in sight there are quite a few ways of exploring its vast sea life including visiting one of the many amazing aquariums in Florida. 

A day trip to the local aquatic museum is an excellent activity to help you cool off on a too-hot day as well as get indoors on a rainy one or even to fill the day before your cruise from Florida. It's an opportunity to learn all about Florida's sea life and discover something new about the ocean you built your vacation around. From Orlando to Miami aquariums and everything in between, check out all that the state has to offer before your setting sail on your next Florida cruise vacation.


If you find yourself in Miami, plan a day at the Seaquarium. This large park has so many opportunities to get some face time with sea turtles, penguins, seals and dolphins. You're guaranteed an amazing day here, as you swim with the seals or dolphins and learn more about their Conservation and Care program, an initiative that rescues, rehabs, and releases animals back into the wild.

2. Sea Life Orlando Aquarium: EXPLORE THE OCEAN TUNNEL

Want to wander through a 360-degree ocean tunnel? Well at SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, you can do just that. The immersive experience is great for kids to get a new perspective of their favorite ocean animals like sharks, sea turtles and stingrays. There are nine exhibits to explore where you can learn about thousands of species of animals and even feed them, too. Visit one of the daily talks or feedings to get up close and personal and learn the stories of these incredible animals. For a more hands-on experience, head to the Coastal Rockpool Exhibit and stick your hand in (safely) to say hello to the micro-habitat filled with starfish and anemone. Then, find your way to the Jelly Wall Exhibit for a colorful show of jellyfish.


Out of all of the aquariums in Tampa, the Florida Aquarium is a must-see. It's actually one of the best aquariums in the entire country. It's pretty massive and showcases over 7,000 animal and plant species. You can easily spend the whole day getting lost in the exhibits. Wander through the different habitats, and you'll find the Wetlands of Florida or the Journey to Madagascar. You can learn about sea turtles and stingrays before setting your eyes on the giant Pacific octopus. Or visit the shark tank and get a close-up look at their jaws. Outside, hop on board a Wild Dolphin Cruise, or let your kids cool off at The Splash Pad, an outdoor water play zone.


Panama City Beach is home to the Gulf World Marine Park. With a handful of interactive programs, there's so much to do here. Swim with dolphins, or attend an interactive daily show where you can learn about sea lions or stingrays from the knowledgeable aquarium staff. Then, watch the penguins be their funny selves or even take part in an animal therapy program.

5. THE KEY WEST AQUARIUM: Get Well-Acquainted At The Touch Tank

The Key West Aquarium first opened to the public in 1935. Admission was 15 cents! It was then used as a rifle range for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. In 1946, the historical location reopened as an aquarium and is now considered the best aquarium in Florida, home to sharks, turtles, fish, stingrays, and more. They're really involved in conservation efforts, which you can learn more about during your visit. While you're there, head to the touch tank where you can interact with conch and other critters that can be found in the keys.

6. Clearwater Marine Aquarium: LEARN ALL ABOUT CONSERVATION

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is one of the top non-profit organizations leading the way in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine life. They give their animals the utmost care and respect making it one of the best aquariums in Florida. You can meet rescued animals, hop on a boat ride to witness wildlife in their natural habitats, meet dolphins, and even help the staff care for their sharks.

7. Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium: GO VIRTUAL

Located in Sarasota, the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium features some pretty cool exhibits. Make sure to visit the famous manatees, Hugh and Buffet. If you plan your visit just right, you can see them munching on romaine lettuce for lunch. Fun fact: They eat 72–84 heads of lettuce a day! Then, say hello to the turtles and visit the sharks at the Shark Zone. If you're wanting more, try the virtual reality experience where you can swim with humpback whales and dive with the sharks.


If you find yourself in Fort Walton Beach, you'll have to head to the Gulfarium. Meet some dolphins, go for a snorkel in Stingray Bay, play with some seals, or pick up a snake. There are so many amazing interactive experiences at this aquarium. And if hanging with animals isn't enough, you can even spend some time with the trainers and learn how to care for the animals from the experts themselves.

9. Museum Of Discovery And Science: GET A SCIENCE LESSON

If you're looking for aquariums in Fort Lauderdale, don't discount the Museum of Discovery and Science. This place is a giant learning playground that combines a science museum with an aquarium. So after exploring the space travel or ecology exhibits, head to the aquarium area for a deep dive into South Florida's underwater ecosystem.

10. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters: FIND NEW EXPERIENCES

The Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters offers just that: unforgettable marine-life encounters. For an immersive experience, feed animals like tarpon, turtles, stingrays, lobsters, tortoises, snappers, and more. Then, head to one of the hands-on tanks to get a feel (literally) for marine life. End the day snorkeling in the nearby lagoon for a new perspective of how these animals live.

Come to know all about the ocean’s marine life at one of the many amazing Sunshine State aquariums before or after your next cruise from Florida.


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