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Marine Marvels: Downtown Tampa’s Florida Aquarium

Whether you’re eyeballing the glinting waters of Tampa Bay from our rooftop pool or during a well-deserved beach day, the Gulf of Mexico casts a definite spell during any stay with us at the Westshore Grand.

Swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, deep-sea fishing: You’ve got no shortage of options at your fingertips for communing with that beautiful subtropical sea. Not every such communion needs to involve getting wet, however.

In the Florida Aquarium, downtown Tampa boasts a first-class educational facility for unveiling the wonders of the marine realm for young and old alike. And in point of fact, you can get wet here, too, but we’ll get into that.

Stellar Exhibits

Just a few miles from our luxury hotel, the Florida Aquarium provides a topside exploration of ocean habitats and sea life of local waters and far beyond. The Wetlands Trail, among its centerpieces, invokes the biodiverse ecosystems of the Suwanee River within a soaring glass dome. Lock eyes with alligators, marvel at the heavenly plumage of roseate spoonbills and white ibises, and face down the Sunshine State’s most notorious exotic species and the scourge of the Greater Everglades: The Burmese python.

From that freshwater wilderness, survey Florida’s seashores, estuaries, and nearshore brine in the Bays and Beaches exhibit—home to everything from royal terns and stingrays to green sea turtles and the aptly named goliath grouper—and take a rare look at the underwater gardens of the Dry Tortugas in the Coral Reef Gallery, 500,000 gallons of colorful corals and tropical fish. Or leave the Western Hemisphere entirely and spend some quality time with ring-tailed lemurs and chameleons in the Journey to Madagascar facility.

Aquarium Activities

It’s not all passive observation at the Florida Aquarium, either: Don SCUBA gear and go diving with stingrays and sand tiger sharks, or immerse yourself (literally) in the Coral Reef Gallery. Other organized activities include the Behind the Scenes Tour, the Close-Up Critters hangout sessions with some of the aquarium’s “Animal Ambassadors,” and a thrilling guided cruise on Tampa Bay to search for wild bottlenose dolphins and other local residents.

The littler crowd, meanwhile, will have a blast over at the Splash Pad, the Florida Aquarium’s on-site waterpark playground.

Peek Underwater at the Florida Aquarium

Get an up-close look at the submarine splendor of our watery backyard over at the Florida Aquarium: It’s mighty hard to leave this thoughtfully designed institution unimpressed, and you’ll have that much deeper appreciation for the Gulf’s warm surf next time you hit up the beach with us here at the Westshore Grand.

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