The Kid and aquariums: A match made in heaven

Enjoying The Florida Aquarium
One weekend several months ago, The Kid and I visited the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle in Detroit. It was a fun way to kill a few hours, and afterward, she was still brimming with energy so we walked toward the botanical gardens. As we crossed the bridge by the Belle Isle Aquarium, we found that it was open and free to the public that Saturday.

That's when I discovered my daughter's love of aquariums. Since I moved to the city some 13 years ago, I'd been in the aquarium a handful of times. It was always pleasant, but sparse compared to modern standard. It's reincarnation was made possible by the Belle Isle Conservancy, and they've done an excellent job with a shoestring budget to reopen the facility.

The Kid was mesmerized. Even with her energy waining, she sat in my arms fixated on every display. When I would walk away from a tank, she would sob until we walked back. Needless to say, I received a healthy upper-body workout from lifting her high enough to see the tanks that day.

So on our recent family trip to Tampa, we had a rainy Saturday with no plans, so we headed downtown and visited The Florida Aquarium. It was the perfect way to enjoy family time while staying out of the inclement weather.

Probably the best thing about this particular aquarium is the design of their displays. The Kid was able to see everything without being carried, which is outstanding for those of us with Toddler Elbow. My favorite part of the day was watching her discover it all. Her reactions ran the gamut between awestruck to being so excited, she had to dance and sing.

I can't wait until our next trip to The Florida Aquarium with The Kid. Her vocabulary has exploded lately, so I'm sure she'll talk a blue streak during and after the trip. I can't wait to hear her observations!

A few tips for enjoying The Florida Aquarium:
  • Parking is easily accessible and free next to the aquarium, but the location is isolated from most good restaurant options. Consider parking in Ybor City and taking the trolley to the aquarium, it's worth the few extra bucks and the trolley is a fun ride.
  • If you've got a membership to a zoo or an aquarium, see if they have a partnership agreement with The Florida Aquarium. Our Detroit Zoo membership netted us half-off tickets, making our afternoon immensely more affordable. 
  • Pack your kid's swim trunks and swim diapers (if needed). They've got a great outdoor splash pad for kids that's open when the weather is pleasant, complete with a bar in the middle so parents can relax a bit while the kids are at play. 

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