Thursday, January 29, 2015

Trip to Tampa Bay: Florida Aquarium

Daxton and I spent the last day of Dallas's work meetings in Tampa at the Florida Aquarium.  I have to admit I have really missed being near a good aquarium.  In the bay area we had season passes to the Aquarium of the Bay and we even had season passes to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for a couple years we lived there as well.  I thought for sure there would be an awesome one to go to when we moved to south Florida, I mean seriously, we are literally surrounded by ocean.  Sadly, the Florida Aquarium in Tampa is the closest true aquarium and it's three hours away.  It's rated one of the top 10 aquariums in the United States, so I was very excited to bring Daxton there to explore.
It was a pretty impressive aquarium with some very creative exhibits.  The only downside was how crowded it was being that we were visiting in the middle of the summer.

Daxton was such a sweetheart this trip and even let me take some pictures of him at the entrance...which was VERY rare.

I loved how many hands-on exhibits and touch pools.  I also loved that there were so many lower viewing windows, perfect for an independent toddler.  Daxton had so much fun that he literally explored everything while I followed closely behind.  I'm pretty sure we are both madly in love with marine life!

Touching the horseshoe crabs

They did such a cool job on the design of the different exhibits.  They incorporated so many trees and rock formations throughout the viewing areas which I loved and even had a full grown mangrove forest in the center of the aquarium.  It was fantastic!

We loved exploring the wetlands.  Daxton even watched the Anaconda in awe for over five minutes...that was big for him!

As you can see he was VERY excited to see the alligator.  It was like he was being reunited with his buddy.

I loved that the Mangrove wetlands weren't covered on the top so every once in awhile a ray would swim by and splash us.  There were also the biggest fresh water fish I had ever seen.

If Daxton would have had his way he would have been swimming with the fish!  I had to watch him very closely and even then he almost made it over that ledge a couple times before I could reach him in time.  Gotta love his energy!?

They had a really interesting Madagascar exhibit in the upper level of the aquarium where Daxton immediately found a best little buddy.  There was a little boy his age visiting with his grandma and it took them about 30 seconds to start chasing each other in circles while giggling loudly.  It was pretty cute, but a little more difficult keeping up with two toddlers instead of just one...

More of the fun mangrove wetlands

The next section was Daxton and I's favorite, the coral reef.  I love the uniquely different marine life that live among the coral reefs, especially sting rays.  They are such beautiful animals, so graceful and different.

Daxton's excitement while watching the rays swim next to him was pretty telling.  He's a definite fan as well! 

It was pretty funny to see Daxton's reaction to the touch pools.  It was kept at a very cold temperature (typical for Pacific ocean) and Daxton could hardly dip his fingers in.  He kept saying, "too cold, mommy!  Too cold!"  It's fair to say that he has forgotten his Northern California roots and taken on the warmth of south Florida.

By far the coolest and freakiest exhibit was the shark tank!
It was floor to ceiling and had several sharks inside.  I loved the pops of colored coral as well.  The unnerving part was how interested a couple sharks were in Daxton!  He of course loved this, but I can tell when an animal is slowly circling it's not a good sign...

How creepy looking is this guy!?

My favorite memory from our day is summed up in the below picture.  I have so much fun with my little buddy.  I love him so much and thoroughly enjoy our adventures together.  It was a very fun few days in Tampa and even though we only got to see Dallas at night in the hotel, I'd say it was totally worth it to travel with him.  We love anytime we can get with daddy!

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