Tarpon Springs Aquarium: Local’s Guide

Your guide to visiting the Tarpon Springs Aquarium and Animal Sanctuary

The Tarpon Springs Aquarium is my family’s favorite aquarium in the area. Though it is different than a traditional aquarium, it is something so special!

It is a family-owned and operated small aquarium that has been in our area since 1990. While it is smaller than other aquariums around Tampa Bay, it is so interactive and fun. Our kids love meeting the sting rays and holding alligators in a way you don’t get to do at the bigger aquariums.

We are two local moms and we write about all the family fun you can have around Pinellas County. My family has been an annual pass holder to the Tarpon Aquarium for years and I’m excited to share with you all our favorite parts.

Below you’ll find highlights for visiting the aquarium, along with tips for making the most out of your visit.

Let’s dive in!

General Information

  • LOCATION: 1722 North Pinellas Avenue, Tarpon Springs
  • HOURS: 10am-5pm
  • COST: 24.99 adults/18.99 child (but they frequent run specials)
  • Website

The Tarpon Springs Aquarium is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is lots of free parking which is a bonus compared to other aquariums in the area.

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Highlights of Tarpon Springs Aquarium

String Rays

The sting ray touch tank offers a truly unique experience that sets it apart from traditional aquarium encounters. Unlike regular aquariums where petting a stingray can be a challenge, the Tarpon Aquarium stingray are eager to be touched.

They actually flock to you when you put your hands into the water. This is great especially for the littlest kids who may have had trouble reaching rays at other touch tanks (looking at you, ZooTampa!).

In addition petting the sting rays, you can also pay for food to feed them. The food cost is cheaper than other aquariums too, at only $3. It is really a fascinating experience of hand-feeding them small pieces of shrimp.

Animal Shows

You do not want to miss the animal shows that happen throughout the day. We recommend planning the time of your visit around which shows you would like to see.

Here is an example of a daily show schedule to give you an idea of the offerings:

11:00 AM – Reptile Encounters

12:00 PM – SCUBA Diver Show

1:00 PM – Alligator Show

2:00 PM – Reptile Encounters

3:00 PM – SCUBA Diver Show

4:00 PM – Alligator Show

Their website lists the current show schedule.

Holding animals

Following the reptile show, attendees have the exciting chance to hold both a snake and a baby alligator.

My three-year-old now thinks that “baby alligators love [her]” because of holding the aquarium alligators so much. So be warned, you may have to remind your kids after the visit that wild alligators aren’t actually their friends.

Petting Zoo

A great recently addition to the aquarium is a petting zoo! You can visit with ponies, bunnies, goats, pigs, ducks, and more.

Petting the animals is included in your admission ticket. For a small fee, visitors can also pay to feed the petting zoo animals.

One of the coolest parts of this area is the sizable gopher tortoise that wanders around. Fun fact: tortoises can feel when their shells are being petted and this one seemed to really enjoy it!

Hands On

Holding gators and the petting zoo aren’t the only hands on experiences you can have at the aquarium! Both you and your children will have the chance to interact with even more fascinating creatures throughout the aquarium.

As part of your entrance fee, you also get petting opportunities with young sharks, turtles, and horseshoe crabs. Petting sharks is always a highlight for our kids.

Visitors also have the opportunity to feed a variety of aquarium animals, including baby gators, adolescent sharks, turtles, and impressive game fish. Plus, all the feeding opportunities are a very reasonable cost.

You should either bring cash or purchase feeding tickets alongside your admission ticket, as some vendors may not accept card payments for the smaller feeding charges of $3 or $5.

Tips before you visit

Here are some of our best tips to make the most out of your visit to the Tarpon Aquarium:

  • Check online for discounts and coupons: they frequently run specials, coupons and Florida-resident discounts that they post on their website.
  • Bring cash: you may need cash if you decide to do an animal feeding and snacks for you. You can also buy feeding tickets when you buy your entrance ticket at the door.
  • Pack your own meals: they don’t have a cafe to sell full meals on site, but you can buy select snacks and drinks.
  • Strollers are not needed: Strollers are welcome and can hold your diaper bag, but its not a lot of walking so they are not really needed.
  • Not a whole day activity: It is an amazing experience that you may want to go back to again and again, but each visit without the shows you can be done in under 2 hours. The shows make it a longer activity though, but still not a whole day.
  • Teachers, military, healthcare, and first responder discount: Public servants get 30% off admission with the coupon available on their website.

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