Best Florida Downtown Areas

Florida Aquarium, American Victory & A Great Lunch – A Day in Downtown Tampa

This is our second trip to Downtown Tampa in our Florida Journey, as there is just so much to do there that we just couldn’t get it all in on the last trip. You know what? We didn’t get it all done this trip either.

On this visit to Downtown Tampa, we took in the up-close adventure at the Florida Aquarium, a self-guided tour of the American Victory Ship, and a scrumptious lunch at Splitsville at Sparkman Wharf. All three of the places we visited were conveniently located next to each other and within walking distance, so we were able to pay one $6.00 parking fee to park at the aquarium and left our car there for the day. It also made it much easier to do everything we wanted to do in one day without being rushed.

The Florida Aquarium

We started our visit at the aquarium with the Florida Wetlands Trail exhibit and if I had to pick a favorite exhibit, it would be this one. I just love Florida birds, and this section of the aquarium has an abundance of feathered beauties.

I could try to write some fancy sentences explaining each exhibit at The Florida Aquarium, but in this case, pictures are really better than words because I could never write well enough to do this place justice and fully describe the beauty that can be seen here.

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In addition to the all the wonderful sea creatures and beautiful birds you will experience at The Florida Aquarium, there are other fun activities for both children and adults. Sit back and enjoy a 15-minute film in the 4-D theater. Children will have a blast exploring a rainforest-themed splash zone with slides and waterworks. Great for summertime fun!! But wet they will get, so better bring a change of clothes. Have lunch at Cafe’ Ray or an adult beverage at Fins. Of course, there is a gift shop and I found the items in the gift shop to be quite unique, with educational toys for children that I have not seen anywhere else.

Enjoy all the Aquarium’s exhibits, daily shows, 4-D theater, The Splash Pad, and more with a general admission ticket. Adult admission $32.49, Senior $29.20 and child admission $27.20. Other adventures can be added to your experience at an extra charge, such as Swim & Dive Programs, Shark Swim, A Wild Dolphin Cruise, and a Behind the Scenes Tour. Combo tickets are available. For more information on the other exciting adventures

The Florida Aquarium is located at 701 Channelside Drive Tampa. Open daily from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm

Splitsville at Sparkman Wharf

The next stop for us on the day’s adventure was lunch so we headed next door to Sparkman Wharf, an entertainment complex on the water. There are several unique dining options at Sparkman Wharf, such as rows of recycled shipping containers turned into take-out window eateries, very clever since the wharf is at the port.

But we decided on another unique option with a reputation of not only having excellent food inspired by an award-winning chef but also being just a fun place to hang out. Splitsville is part fantastic restaurant, part bar, part bowling alley, and part pool hall/game room. We certainly were not disappointed, our meal was fantastic, the drinks were perfect and the place really is pretty happening.

American Victory Ship

Our last stop of the day was a self-guided tour of one of only four fully operational World War II ships in the country, The American Victory. The ship is docked right behind The Florida Aquarium and is on the Register of National Historic Places. You can actually tour almost the entire ship, including the galley, medical rooms, crew quarters, radio room, and more. The entire ship is a maritime museum with artifacts and displays dedicated to honoring the veterans and the merchant fleet who served our country.

The American Victory Ship is open Sundays and Mondays from noon to 5 pm, and Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65+, $5 for veterans, $5 for children 4-12, and free for children 3 and under. 

All three of these adventures are located within walking distance of Tampa’s cruise terminals and if taking a cruise out of Tampa any or all of these attractions would be a nice addition to your vacation plans.

We hope you enjoyed this post about our journey into Downtown Tampa. To read about our previous visit see Tampa’s Downtown Riverwalk. To follow our Florida journey please subscribe to our site so we may send future posts straight to your email inbox. To join the Florida discussion and meet new friends who share your interest in this beautiful state then join our Facebook group at:

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