on July 27, 2011
Key West Aquarium is a great place to bring children - educational but still a lot of fun. We adults loved it too! It has been around a long time - it opened in 1934 and was Key West's first tourist attraction. It was built between 1932 and 1934 and was part of Key West's attempt to stage an economic recovery at that time, but advertising the city as "America's Caribbean Island."It is small, quaint and old fashioned and is home to lots of sea creatures including tropical fish, eels and barracuda. As you go in, there is a touch tank with various creatures you can lift and handle. We spent ages here with our son - all the children loved being able to put their hands in and pick up crabs, conch, starfish and other things.They have a couple of other tanks with rays and nurse sharks, as well as an outdoor area with larger sharks and other fish.I read somewhere that the aquarium is a bit of a let-down. We did not agree with this view at all. Perhaps if you are expecting an huge, modern, all-singing, all-dancing place it would be. If you come expecting something quirky and quaint, you will not be disappointed. We also found it was a great place to cool down and rest out of the hot sun, while you learned about the local sea creatures.Tickets cost $13.95 for adults and $4.95 for children and are valid for 2 days - you can come and go as much as you like in this period. The aquarium is open daily between 10am and 6pm.They have shark, turtle and fish feedings at the aquarium - be sure to time your visit to coincide with one of these. They take place at 11:00, 13:00, 15:00 and 16:30. Expert guides explain the mysteries of the waters surrounding the Florida Keys while they feed the creatures. The whole thing is very informative and interesting, but also geared for children so they don't find it at all boring.The guide first took us to the touch tank and told us all about the creatures it contained - she showed us how to hold a conch so it would come out of its shell; how starfish can regrow a limb and how some crabs feel a bit like a toothbrush. They then fed the rays - this was very entertaining, as they got extremely excited, popped up out of the water and splashed a lot. The guide brought a juvenile nurse shark around and allowed everyone to touch its skin which was interesting. The tour then went outside, where we watched bigger sharks get fed.Bring some small change with you, as there are various places to buy a handful of fish feed for 25 cents. Our son loved feeding the fish outside and watching them gobble it all up.If you have younger children and are in Key West, I would definitely advise a trip to the aquarium.
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