The sunshine state is home to some of the most impressive aquariums in the nation. If you love marine life, you should check out some of these top destinations.
So, strap on your snorkel and start planning the best interactive aquatic family vacation! Keep reading to learn more about the best aquariums in Florida.
The Best Aquariums in Florida
Florida is a large state teeming with incredible marine wildlife. Spectacular flora and fauna are native inhabitants of the Gulf coast, Atlantic shore, Florida Keys, and Everglades.
You can tour numerous aquariums and marine wildlife rehabilitation centers, no matter which Florida city you visit. If you are planning a family vacation, check out a few of the best aquariums in Florida in person!
The Best Aquariums in Florida On the Gulf Coast
The Florida Aquarium
Florida’s Gulf Coast is home to a stunning array of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and marine mammals. Visit The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida, to learn more about these native species and see them up close.
This is one of the best aquariums in Florida for children to experience our wild world with safe, hands-on learning opportunities. The whole aquarium tour takes about three hours, so take advantage of this afternoon adventure in Tampa!
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida, is another incredible educational experience. Explore a real marine laboratory and learn about the complex world of marine biology.
Mote might be the best aquarium in Florida, with exhibits including the Florida Watershed, Otters & Their Waters, Manatees, Shark Zone, Creatures from the Coastal Oceans, Florida’s Bay Habitats, Sea Turtles: Ancient Survivors, From the Rivers to the Seas, Oh Baby! Life Cycles of the Seas, Exploration Gallery, Virtual Reality Experience, and Megalodon Jaw & Fossil Creek.
Stay current on new attractions, including the Mote Science Education Aquarium (Mote SEA.)
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Fort Walton Beach, FL
Do you want to see dolphins and sea lions perform amazing tricks? Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a great place to get up close and learn about these fascinating marine mammals.
Have fun and help defend our watery world by visiting this marine park. A portion of all ticket sales goes directly into funding Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center for coastal wildlife conservation and rehabilitation.
Tarpon Springs Aquarium
Tarpon Springs, FL
If you want to see gators up close, you must visit this Tarpon Springs Aquarium and Animal Sanctuary! This small aquarium is an all-outdoors nature preserve with plenty to see and do.
This sanctuary houses and rehabilitates many species native to the Gulf of Mexico. Get a chance to feed turtles, tortoises, alligators, sharks, iguanas, and more interesting species.
Gulf World Marine Park
Panama City Beach, FL
Gulf World Marine Park is a fun and educational exhibit where your family can learn about marine mammals by meeting them in person! This aquarium takes in animals that cannot return to the wild and provides them with enrichment and fun activities.
You will meet dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, penguins, and tropical fish and birds. For an extra fee, you can take the plunge and swim with the dolphins.
There are different tiers for dolphin encounters, so check out their website to pick the perfect package for you!
ZooTampa Zoo and Aquarium
ZooTampa Zoo and Aquarium is another of the best aquariums in Florida for seeing animals from around the world. You’ll love watching graceful manatees glide through the water at the Florida Wildlife aquatic center.
Remember to check out the sharks, eels, seahorses, reptiles, and amphibians in the aquarium area. Once you finish up, you’ll have 1,300 more species of animals to learn about in the main zoo!
Best Aquariums in Florida on the Atlantic Coast
Cox Science Center and Aquarium
West Palm Beach, FL
Are you taking your family on vacation near West Palm Beach? Your kids will love visiting Cox Science Center and Aquarium. This exciting science exhibit is one of the best aquariums in Florida, plus so much more!
See stunning native Florida fish like angelfish, spadefish, eels, stingrays, and seahorses in the 10,000-gallon Aquariums of the Atlantic. Explore the complex ecosystems present in the Florida Everglades and learn how conservation biologists are working to protect them.
After you get your fill of all things aquatic, tour the many interactive exhibits throughout the science center. Learn about the human brain, the history of dinosaurs, our universe, and more mind-blowing topics!
Marine Science Center
Ponce Inlet, FL
The Marine Science Center is the ultimate place to see wildlife rehabilitation in action. Meet rescued animals like sea turtles and birds and learn about their treatment and recovery.
While learning, you can get hands-on experiences in the touch tanks and feeding exhibits. This small aquarium is a must-visit for all animal lovers!
Lucie County Aquarium
Fort Pierce, FL
St. Lucie County Aquarium highlights the unique ecosystem present on the Atlantic coast, where pristine beaches join the intercoastal waterway. Meet the intriguing animals that reside in this beautiful area.
The intercoastal waterway is a 3,000-mile collection of rivers running parallel to the Atlantic coast. Frequent mixing of fresh- and saltwater contributes to diverse species of birds and fish that thrive in this location.
Climate change is an imminent threat to these species’ natural environment. This aquarium works to protect these species and educate the public about their critical situation.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is another great place to see dolphins in person. This is the best aquarium in Florida that is fully committed to wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release programs.
Come to see the magnificent dolphins perform and leave with a new perspective and respect for our waters. You will also meet sea turtles, otters, pelicans, sharks, rays, and more rescued marine animals recovering here.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
The Jacksonville Zoo is a great place to see animals that roam the land and sea. Set aside a whole day to explore this 122-acre zoo and aquarium that houses over 2,000 animals and 1,000 plant species.
In league with the best aquariums in Florida, this zoo’s attractions include the 17,000-gallon Stingray Bay touch tank, Wild Florida Wetlands exhibit, and Manatee Critical Care Center.
The main zoo has extensive animal exhibits you want to take advantage of, including some of the best big cat enclosures in the world!
The Best Aquariums in the Florida Keys
Key West Aquarium
Key West, FL
The Florida Keys are a coral cay archipelago just off the southern coast of Florida, swimming with diverse tropical marine species. The Key West Aquarium showcases the beautiful wildlife that calls this place home.
Key West Aquarium is a small, historic aquarium focusing on conservation efforts to preserve southern Florida’s diverse ecosystem. Enjoy hands-on experiences and interactive exhibits, including touch tanks and shark feeding tours at one of the best aquariums in Florida’s Keys.
Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters
There’s no better way to experience the glory of ocean life than donning a snorkel and diving in to meet these animals up close. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters is a truly magical experience for visitors of all ages that you will remember forever!
Even though it is small, some visitors consider it the best aquarium in Florida for up-close encounters! Swim with sharks, paddle through a coral reef, and feed stingrays by hand. Tour guides and marine biologists are on-site and ready to answer all your aquatic questions!
The Best Aquariums in Central Florida
SEA LIFE Orlando
SEA LIFE Orlando is one of 53 SEA LIFE Aquarium locations across the globe. This is the best aquarium in Florida’s Orlando area and features many interactive touch tanks and other hands-on attractions.
Kids love the 360-degree ocean tunnel where they can feel totally immersed in schools of tropical fish. This location should definitely be on your list when vacationing in Orlando.
SeaWorld is another famous marine attraction in Orlando, Florida. This marine zoological park is one of the few places where you will be amazed to watch orcas perform incredible feats in front of a crowd.
SeaWorld Orlando is one of the best aquariums in Florida and a thrilling theme park featuring rollercoaster rides and exciting attractions for the thrill seekers at your party.
SeaWorld has done much in recent years to improve its operations for both animals and guests. This park focuses heavily on conservation and rehabilitation efforts through educational outreach and funding for research.
Visit the Best Aquarium in Florida!
We hope this visitors’ guide has inspired you to get out there and explore the best aquariums in Florida. Wherever your destination, there is so much fun for you and your family to experience.
Do you want to learn more about the top places you must not miss in this sunny state? Check out our Florida hub to discover the best things to do and see during your next visit.