The last week of our Southern Road Trip was spent in one of my favorite places, the Florida Panhandle. I grew up vacationing on the sugar white sands of the Miracle Strip and visiting the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. I had the opportunity to visit the Gulfarium again with my own children this summer and can’t wait to share our adventure with you. Read more about our beach vacation tips for families here, our beach week meal plan here, and activities for the kids at the beach here.
The Gulfarium captures the imagination immediately with viewing windows at various heights so everyone can watch the dolphins swim. They come by and say hello, and it is magical.
Our next stop was the Living Sea, the coolest giant aquarium I’ve ever seen. Everyone in our group loved the smaller aquariums and we stopped to look at each one, then they ran to the huge glass walls of the Living Sea and were enthralled. Every afternoon at 1:30 pm a Gulfarium aquarist answers questions and educates about the Living Sea.
My sweet Pearl Girl has never been so enraptured by anything in her whole life. She was completely in awe.
Look at that sweet girl watching the fish and sharks swim by.
Here you can get a better idea of the scope of the Living Sea exhibit, though this photo doesn’t show the whole thing. It is truly beautiful and perfect for everyone to get a great view.
After checking out the Living Sea we headed upstairs to grab seats for the Dolphin Show. The show is primarily educational, but very entertaining as well. Our whole group learned so much about these beautiful and intelligent creatures. Growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist so I could work with dolphins, all because of my visits to the Gulfarium.
Our crew was rowdy and excited about the dolphin show. Bring plenty of snacks and water for your little people, or grab some from the snack shops. Just be sure your kids don’t try to feed any of the animals as it can be dangerous for the animal’s health.
For kids under two, I highly recommend babywearing during your visit. We brought our stroller as well, but carrying our youngest two crew members in their Ergobaby carriers was MUCH easier and gave them a better view.
Outside the main aquarium building is the marine animal zoo. We loved the penguins and otters, as well as the touch pool, alligators, shark moat, and harbor seals.
The Bear was in love with the tiny houses of the penguins and couldn’t get over how cute they were.
The reptile section was really awesome, with alligators, turtles, and caimans of all sizes.
My favorite sight the whole day was this pile of happy otters snuggling. They wrestled around and nuzzled each other and were so cute I could hardly stand it.
I love zoos and aquariums that are committed to education and conservation, like the Gulfarium. Their Sea Turtle C.A.R.E. Program is making a difference rehabilitating and releasing endangered sea turtles in the area. When planning your visit to the Florida Panhandle, be sure to include the Gulfarium on your itinerary. Visit their website here for hours, show schedules and ticket information. You can also follow the Gulfarium on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.