Things to do near Florida Aquarium

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

The Florida Aquarium is more than just a haven for flora and fauna. 

There are many exciting things to do near the Florida Aquarium that are sure to captivate visitors of all ages. 

Adjacent to the aquarium, Sparkman Wharf awaits, offering a vibrant waterfront experience with delicious dining and lively entertainment. 

For a dose of fun and friendly competition, head to Splitsville and enjoy a thrilling game of bowling. 

And art enthusiasts will find their haven at the Tampa Museum of Art, showcasing a remarkable collection of masterpieces. 

With all these incredible things to do near Florida Aquarium, visitors have an unforgettable adventure filled with exploration and entertainment.

Here are some of the places near the Florida Aquarium you need to visit. 

SS American Victory

The SS American Victory Maritime Museum is one of only four operational WWII-era ships in the country. 

With nine decks to explore, including 3-story cargo holds, galleys, crew cabins, mess halls, and officers’ quarters, visitors can immerse themselves in the ship’s history. 

The museum showcases medals and numerous historical artifacts. 

Since its arrival in 1999, the SS American Victory in Florida Aquarium has undergone extensive renovations and earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Experience life aboard a WWII cargo ship and learn about its significance by visiting the SS American Victory Ship & Museum. 

Enjoy either a self-guided or a guided tour, with the self-guided option allowing visitors to explore the ship using a map and information sheets freely. 

The guided tour, available seven days a week, provides in-depth knowledge and lasts 60-90 minutes.

Sparkman Wharf

Sparkman Wharf near Florida Aquarium is an exciting addition to Tampa Bay’s downtown waterfront, offering a dynamic and vibrant experience.

Housed in refurbished shipyard crates, it offers a unique dining experience with various food and drink choices. 

The one-acre park provides a scenic backdrop for enjoying time with loved ones, including furry friends. 

With stunning waterfront views, live music, craft beer, and exceptional dining, Sparkman Wharf is a must-visit spot. 

It is open from 11 am to 9 pm on Sundays to Thursdays and 11 am to 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. 

It’s the perfect place to unwind and indulge. 

The vibrant space also serves as a gathering spot before or after Tampa Bay Lightning games at nearby Amalie Arena. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to try the exquisite Tex-Mex cuisine by Michelin chef Joe Isidori at the new JOTORO. 

Explore the centerpiece biergarten featuring local beers and catch concerts, movies, and games in the incredible green space. 

Tampa Bay History Center

Tampa Bay History Center

The Tampa Bay History Center is a top-notch history museum showcasing the region’s rich heritage. 

This is one of the best things to do near Florida Aquarium for you. 

Visitors can explore 12,000 years of Florida’s history, from the earliest inhabitants to Spanish conquistadors, sports legends, and influential entrepreneurs. 

It highlights the stories of the Seminole and Miccosukee people, Cracker pioneers, Tampa’s Cuban community, and the thriving cigar industry. 

The museum’s cartography collection is truly impressive, spanning six centuries. 

The museum focuses on significant eras such as the Seminole Indian Wars, the Civil War, and the city’s modern development. 

The museum offers a comprehensive glimpse into the region’s past with thousands of artifacts on display, including maps, paintings, ceramics and everyday objects. 

the Winds of Change exhibit take visitors on a journey back to the 16th century. 

They are immersed in the story of Spanish conqueror Pánfilo de Narváez and his ill-fated expedition through movies and life-size mannequins.

Explore 500 years of Tampa’s history on the second floor through photographs, artifacts, and artistic renderings. 

The museum encourages hands-on engagement with history, offering interactive experiences like pretending to drive a cattle herd or designing cattle brands. 

Traveling and temporary exhibitions can be found on the third floor. 


After the exhibits, make your way to Splitsville Southern + Social. 

It is a 27,000 square feet dining and social club located in beautiful Downtown Tampa at Sparkman Wharf. 

With 12 full-service bowling lanes, casual dining, and various indoor gaming options, Splitsville offers a modern Southern vibe and an energetic atmosphere. 

Enjoy a mouthwatering menu curated by James Beard Award-winning chef Art Smith. 

Indulge in various activities, including ping pong, darts, skeeball, foosball, shuffleboard, billiards, and Belgian feather bowling. 

Splitsville is the ultimate destination for socializing, entertainment, and delectable dining.

Glazer Children’s Museum

Recently renovated and expanded, The Glazer Children’s Museum has become a captivating destination.

It offers around 170 interactive exhibits across 19 themed areas. 

Designed primarily for children aged 10 and under, the museum provides an experience that appeals to older kids and parents both. 

Begin your adventure by admiring the magnificent spiraling mosaic, Spiral Fantasia, adorning the museum’s facade. 

Ascend to the replica Publix supermarket on the upper level, where children can engage in shopping, checkout, and repeat the fun. 

Immerse yourselves in the role-playing opportunities offered, whether milking a cow on the pretend farm or serving slices of pizza in the lively pizza parlor. 

Take a break for lunch at nearby Curtis Hixon Park, then return to the museum for further discoveries. 

Let imaginations soar in the mini playhouse equipped with sound effects and lighting as children don costumes and collaborate with others in creating imaginative plays. 

Release any remaining energy on the dance floor, illuminated by a rotating disco ball casting vibrant light beams onto the colorful walls. 

Located in the heart of the Riverwalk district, adjacent to the Tampa Museum of Art, The Glazer Children’s Museum is conveniently accessible. 

A short walk from the Convention Center and most downtown hotels, or utilize the network of streetcars and buses. 

Tampa International Airport is just a 15-minute drive away, while Tampa Union Station is only 5 minutes away. 

Many nearby attractions are within walking distance, and water taxis offer transportation to more distant destinations. 

Parking is available in a nearby metered lot. 

The museum operates during normal business hours daily, with Sunday hours in the afternoon. 

Children under the age of 1 are granted free admission.

Tampa Museum of Art

Established in 1920, the Tampa Museum of Art captivates visitors with captivating exhibitions and innovative educational programs.

It proudly boasts one of the largest Greek and Roman antiquities collections in the southeastern United States. 

The museum’s permanent collection showcases diverse art forms, including sculpture, photography, painting, and new media. 

Enhancing its allure, the museum features Leo Villareal’s impressive 14,000 square-foot LED installation, Sky (Tampa), illuminating the southern façade. 

The striking 23-foot tall cast iron sculpture Laura with Bun by Jaume Plensa also creates a captivating silhouette against the northern façade. 

It makes the Tampa Museum of Art an iconic landmark in downtown Tampa.

The Tampa Museum of Art has a new Vinik Family Education Center that offers expanded studio art classes, lectures, and tours throughout the year. 

These programs cater to children, teens, and adults, providing opportunities to explore different art techniques and gain fresh perspectives. 

The museum is committed to community engagement and collaborates with local organizations.

Together they offer outreach programs that utilize art therapy and promote self-expression for vulnerable populations. 

Situated in downtown Tampa, the museum serves as both a cultural institution and a community hub dedicated to celebrating the city’s diverse heritage. 

The renovated spaces opened in 2022, and the museum is actively campaigning for its planned 51,000 sq. ft. expansion.

On April 26, 2023, the Tampa Museum of Art proudly marked the completion of the Centennial Renovation. 

On that day, the Tampa Museum of Art unveiled seven new galleries showcasing a range of exhibitions. 

Additionally, the Vinik Family Education Center opens its doors, offering classrooms for various educational programs. 

Visitors can now enjoy the museum’s enhanced facilities and explore the diverse artworks.

Florida Museum of Photographic Arts

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts pays homage to the rich tradition of American photography. 

It was established in the early 2000s through the collaboration of local businesspeople, curators, and artists. 

Despite its small size, the museum boasts a strong collection that offers a unique perspective on the works of renowned and emerging photographers.

Walking through the galleries of breathtaking photographs is among the interesting things to do near Florida Aquarium.

Its intriguing design is best appreciated when approached from the Riverwalk. 

Visitors are encouraged to spend some time in the beautiful lobby before heading to the second floor, where the museum awaits behind a modest door.

Begin by immersing yourself in the permanent collection. 

Look out for celebrity portraits by Len Prince and male nudes by Dianora Niccolini. 

Judy Dater’s portrait of Ansel Adams captures a significant moment in photographic history, while Burk Uzzle’s photographs of Woodstock exude vibrant energy. 

Don’t miss the collection of panoramic photographs depicting Tampa’s history, including scenes of the Panama Canal’s construction in the early 20th century.

Next, explore the rotating exhibit showcasing established and emerging photographers. 

Discover a new favorite artist and leave the museum inspired for your photography endeavors. 

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts is situated on the second and third floors of the Cube along the Riverwalk in Downtown Tampa.

Getting to the museum is convenient, as it is a 15-minute drive from Tampa International Airport or a 7-minute drive from Tampa Union Station. 

Train connections to other areas in the region are also available. 

Walking to the museum from nearby attractions such as the Tampa Museum of Art or the Convention Center is possible within a few minutes. 

Please note that signage for the museum is limited, so visitors should stay alert to find it. 

Parking options include a covered garage nearby or street parking.

The museum welcomes visitors daily from mid-morning until the evening, with slightly later opening times on weekends. 

Admission fees apply, and guided tours are offered on Sunday afternoons.

Florida Aquarium tickets 

Here are the best Florida Aquarium tickets for all visitors who wish to enjoy the marine beauty in Tampa. 

Entry ticket: This is the simplest ticket option that provides skip the line access to the Aquarium. 

Combo Tickets: Combo tickets offer entry to Florida Aquarium and another Florida attraction at discounted prices. You can visit Tampa Zoo, Dinosaur World and more.

Tampa City Pass: The Tampa pass offers entry to 5 attractions. It includes the Florida Aquarium, Busch Gardens, Zoo Tampa and 2 attractions of choice. 

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About the author

Harshitha’s heart lies where greeny mountains meet stretches of beach. She believes getting lost is the best way to explore