when we were in the florida keys, there was no shortage of options for aquariums, and it was hard to sift through all of the reviews and choose a good one. but, when we were at dry tortugas, one of the staff members at the bookstore gave us a coupon and recommended a place near us called florida keys aquarium encounters. they offered lots of opportunities to pay extra money to get up close and personal for animal feedings, but we opted for the regular admission and had a great day without all the extras.
first, we went on a little staff led tour of the place and learned about their animals and practices. then we were free to roam a bit, where we saw spiny lobsters, sting rays and baby sting rays, giant tortoises (not native to florida), and lots of other less photogenic creatures.
as always, the giant aquarium was a lidkid favorite. so many cool fish and sharks swimming around for our viewing pleasure.
we were able to watch several feedings by the park staff. and then we decided to spring for some bits of chopped up fish to feed some animals ourselves. the kids favorite was feeding the stingrays, because you could see it all through the window. the lobster was pretty great too, but hard to get a good pic of because he quickly snatched it up and hauled it back into his hidey hole.
feeding the tortoises was also pretty awesome, and all the lidkids gave it a go. (i was quite suprised with the unanimous participation for a lot of this day, if i’m honest).
everytime we were ready to leave, a new florida creature offering was placed before us. this time, a little alligator talk, followed by an opportunity to touch a baby alligator’s back. anna was the only participant in this activity. 🙂
we even spotted some uncaged florida wildlife, when two iguanas let us get close enough to them for this pic.
before we left, we spent a good amount of time at a touch table, learning about conch snails, urchins, sea stars, and other touch resilient sea life.
all of my expectations for the day were far exceeded. the lidkids all seemed to have a great time and this place was much cooler than i thought upon our first inspection. i was worried that not dropping hundreds of dollars to have the upgraded aquarium encounters would leave us with not much to do, but i was wrong. so. ten thumbs up to the day.