Children under 3 enter free.
Truth be told, this is the first activity we did on our Thanksgiving trip to Destin. Hubby was working, and the aquarium was top of my list, so I took the kids (10, 8 and 4) to see the animals.
We live in Atlanta with the biggest aquarium in the world, so I wasn't sure if this small aquarium would hold the kids interest. I was thrilled to get there and find a very up close experience with the animals. The aquarium sits right on the beach. As you watch the dolphin show, the backdrop is the beautiful gulf.
Yes, this is a small aquarium, but this small option packs a mighty punch! As soon as you walk in, you are facing the dolphin tank with windows all around. The tank had at least 5 dolphins in it the day we visited including a baby dolphin! Outside are many more animals (penguins, sting rays, otters, alligators, touch tank) in habitats that face the ocean. There are multiple animal demonstrations throughout the day to give you more information on the animals in the aquarium.
Of course, the dolphins were the star of the day! We were all enamored with them. Although on the pricey side, it's worth a stop! So glad we made the trip!
We have been to the Gulfarium multiple times and we always enjoy ourselves. My kids (8 and 6) are absolute sea creature fanatics though, so I'm sure that has something to do with it. I took them when they were tiny tots too, you really don't need a stroller, it is very manageable on foot.
The Gulfarium is small and this part of Florida is not a bustling metropolis, so go in with moderate expectations. We spend a few hours here when we don't feel like going to the beach. Don't miss the dolphin and sea lion shows, they are definitely the main attraction. Otherwise, I wander around and let my kids decide where they want to spend their time. The nice thing about the smaller size is that you really don't have to make a plan and you still won't miss anything. It is almost completely outdoors, but mostly shaded and there is a nice ocean breeze. There are concessions available, but nothing very noteworthy.
My kids love the touch tank and on our last visit we got asked to help with some private bird training which was a real treat and a total surprise.
If you really want to step it up a notch, book an animal encounter ahead of time. We haven't done this yet because they aren't cheap and I want them to really remember it, but I watched the "swim with the rays" encounter this August and it looked great - it was a small group and very organized.
The Gulfarium is definitely not for people who are expecting a smaller version of Seaworld or the Georgia Aquarium but it is a great value for what you pay to get in! Parking is free, admission is reasonable, and there are enough things going on that it will keep everyone entertained.
Check out the dolphin show, visit the section where you can touch many different varieties of sealife, see if you can spot all the alligators in their own secluded section and spend an afternoon learning all about the creatures that come from the very water you will be swimming in later in the day. Great for a rainy day (although much of it is uncovered) or a cooler, non beach kind of day.
The Gulfarium was our favorite part of our Destin trip. It's not overpriced like most aquariums. Parking was easy enough. The dolphin show was fantastic- plenty of room for everyone to either sit or stand. Our 10 month old loved seeing all the animals. Since I'm a frugal-minded mom, I appreciated the reasonably priced concession stand. We sat at a picnic table practically on the beach and ate while our daughter wandered around looking at the pretty scenery. We can't wait to go back!
Only complaint: certain areas weren't very stroller friendly.
We visited there expecting it would take at least a half day. Actually, it turned out to be a very small place and only took a couple of hours including watching dolphin and sea lion shows. If you get bored going to the beach, it might be a good place to visit. But don't expect to see much stuff there.
The gulfarium is a rather small park. There are 2 dolphin shows, a sea lion show, and a diving demonstration. There are several different exhibits to check out, but there's not enough to fill an entire day. This would be a good idea for a rainy day because most everything has an awning.
This is a pretty decent place for the area. There isn't anything like it around. My daughter was 2 years old when we went there and enjoyed herself. It was located at a very convienent location right next to the Ramada Inn where we stayed.
At Fort Walton Beach’s premier attraction, dolphins and seals perform acts and scuba divers demonstrate. The state’s second oldest such facility, it also does rehabilitation and educational work. Gulfarium has a beach setting, which makes it feel more natural to see dolphins leaping into the air.
The Gulfarium is very small and you don't have to plan a whole day for this outing. Tickets are a little pricey, 19.25 for adults and 11.50 for 3-12. We took my 3yo nephew and he had a lot of fun. There is a sea lion show and a dolphin show...you can see them perform together too. We enjoyed the feeding times the most but I think the big touch pool was my nephew's favorite! They offer private dolphin encounters at an additional cost but they book up quickly and your child must be at least 7 and 48".