Spend the Day at the Miami Seaquarium

By: Kara Franker

Head to the Miami Seaquarium for a fun-filled day for the whole family.

The Miami Seaquarium is an amusement park, museum, educational program and rescue center located right off the Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key en route to Key Biscayne. Located on Virginia Key, Miami Seaquarium is an attraction like no other in the Magic City. Equal parts educational and fun, this family-friendly theme park invites marine-lovers of all ages to view dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions, manatees and mores. You can even become a dolphin trainer for a day!

Swim With The Dolphins and Become a Trainer for a Day

Embark on a one-on-one marine life experience by swimming with the dolphins. You can get up close and personal in either shallow or deep water. Shake hands, give training signals and even land a big ol’ kiss from a dolphin for the ultimate photo op. At Dolphin Odyssey you’ll have 30 minutes to kiss, rub, shake hands with, feed and even train a dolphin. Another dolphin experience, Dolphin Encounter, is a fun-filled program where dolphin lovers of all ages get to stay in shallow water and train and play with dolphins. At the Sea Trek Reef Encounter, you can walk through a 300,000-gallon tropical reef filled with tropical fish, rays and more, all while wearing a state-of-the-art dive helmet that allows you to breathe underwater. If you sign up for the Seal Swim, you’ll be able to do just that: swim freely with harbor seals for 15-20 minutes.

Finally, for a real treat, sign up for a 2.5-hour VIP Tour or get the chance to be a trainer for a day. During the tour, you’ll get an up-close animal experience, one where you can play with iguanas or macaws, feed manatees, stingrays and sea turtles, and leave with a photo of you standing next to a sea lion or dolphin. When you participate in the Trainer for a Day experience, you’ll get the hands-on chance to work alongside Miami Seaquarium trainers and learn training basics, assist with daily show set-ups, watch and critique shows, and help with other behind-the-scenes activities.

Shows & Exhibits

The Miami Seaquarium hosts a variety of entertaining and educational shows daily, all of which teach you about sea life and what the human population can do to make sure their habitats stay clean and protected. The Top Deck Dolphin show features bottlenose dolphins leaping through the air, rolling through the water and performing high-flying stunts. The Caribbean-themed Flipper Dolphin Show, on the other hand, invites guests to see what everyone’s favorite dolphin has been up to. When you walk into Flipper’s stadium, you’ll even see images and nostalgia from the original Flipper TV show. At the Killer Whale and Dolphin show, you can see Pacific white-sided dolphins living, playing and jumping through the air alongside Lolita, everyone’s favorite killer whale. Finally, the Golden Dome Sea Lion show is a comedic spectacle that follows the adventures of Salty the Sea Lion and his Reef Rangers as they track down a diver who failed to keep the water clean.

Insider Tip: The cost for all shows at Miami Seaquarium are included with your park entrance pass. It is recommended that you allow at least four hours to see all shows and exhibits. For a complete list of show times, call (305) 361-5705.

Rescue Center

Over the years, the Miami Seaquarium has become more than a place for family-friendly fun and dolphins performing multi-story jumps. It’s a world-class rescue center devoted to rehabilitating animals in need. It is also an Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks member and a preeminent sea turtle and manatee rescue center. Sea turtles and manatees are just two of the native South Florida animals who need professional care and rehabilitation. The Alliance ensures that facilities provide care in the best of environments for marine mammal care, husbandry, conservation and education.

The Seaquarium has a proud history of marine-mammal care, such as rescuing and then releasing the smallest manatee to have ever been rescued, rehabbing manatees from deadly conditions, treating diseased sea turtles and more. If visiting the Seaquarium inspires you to get involved with the welfare of marine animals, you can contribute to the Miami Seaquarium’s various programs like the Sponsor a Sirenian program, Manatee Brick Program and Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest.

History of the Miami Seaquarium

Built in 1955, The Miami Seaquarium is the longest running oceanarium in the United States. It took 14 years of planning to build the 38-acre park. At the grand opening, a special ceremony was performed by a representative who poured water from each of the seven seas into the dolphin tank. Since then, guests from all continents have visited the Miami Seaquarium. From the Seaquarium’s beginnings, the dolphin show, a spectacle of trained Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, has been a highlight and many dolphins have been born in the park. The first dolphin to be born in the Seaquarium’s facilities was Bebe, just a year after the park opened. Bebe went on to have a 40-year career as a star at the Seaquarium and she gave birth to more dolphins that continue to perform today.

The 1960’s were the age of Flipper at the Seaquarium. Eighty-eight television episodes and two movies starring the eponymous dolphin and Ranger Porter Rick and his two sons, Sandy and Bud, were filmed at the park. See the Flipper Lagoon and the dolphin show everyday at the Seaquarium. Other historic moments include the first birth of a manatee under the care of man in 1975. Salty the Sea Lion’s arrival at the park facilitated the addition of the endangered mangrove habitat. It also started the rescue efforts by the Miami Seaquarium’s qualified staff, of many animals. This marine-life attraction has grown since it first opened and currently attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year.

General Visitor Information

The Miami Seaquarium is open 365 days a year, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost of general admission is $44.99 for adults and $34.99 for children ages three to nine. General admission tickets can be purchased at a discount when bought online. Annual passes are $59.99 for adults and $49.99 for children ages three to nine. The cost for parking is $10 per day for cars, motorcycles, passenger vans, limos, campers and RVs. School bus parking is free with a field trip booking. All parking is payable in cash only.

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