Whether you’re a sea animal lover or an avid bird watcher, Tampa Bay has plenty of wildlife centers that are open for you to visit. With viewing centers and hands-on experiences, it is a great way to mix up weekend activities. We’ve done our research on the best animal attractions in Tampa Bay, so that you don’t have to go searching.
Check out our master guide on animal attractions in Tampa Bay for our tips and recommendations!
Previously known as Lowry Park Zoo, Zoo Tampa has been serving the Tampa Bay area for years. With 63 acres of animals, fields, sanctuary areas, and rides – this place has it all.
The animals are well taken care of, as Zoo Tampa has been recognized by the State of Florida as the center for Florida’s efforts of wildlife conservation and biodiversity.
We’ll let you in on a local favorite – the annual passes! You can spend the day at Zoo Tampa as you please throughout the year.
Plan a day, grab some food, and view interesting exhibits – we never get tired of it. We highly recommend this spot if you have little ones, or planning to bring the whole family for a day out.
At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, wildlife meets a thrilling theme park! Known for its innovative roller coaster rides, this park is also well known in the area for its dedication to animal research and conservation.
For any adrenaline junkies out there, this is the place for you, and you may have to make several trips!
Busch Gardens features 335 acres of African-themed animal attractions and rides. Here you can catch a glimpse of rhinos, sloths, lions, elephants, and more!
If you think of a jungle animal, it is certainly located at Busch Gardens. We love their viewing areas and their interaction centers – especially their spot-to-hand-feed kangaroos!
If you’re planning a beach day in Clearwater or just heading down for the day, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is one of our favorite marine animal attractions in Tampa Bay.
This spot is a non-profit organization, dedicated to saving marine animals and animal conservation.
There’s no shortage of unique exhibits, you can even view the rescue and rehabilitation of sick or injured marine life. This is a great spot to take the family or spend a date night.
If you’re a fan of the movie Dolphin Tale, here you can view the movie set! The star of the movie, Winter the Dolphin, unfortunately, passed away in November of 2021. You can now experience Remembering Winter – A musical 360 VR tribute to Winter’s legacy and free spirit.
The Florida Aquarium is a gem to the Channelside and Downtown Tampa area. This non-profit aquarium is a huge 250,000-square-foot area with a maze of exhibits, or in other words, a must-visit spot!
Their interactive exhibits are one of our favorite things to engage with when we go. You can touch stingrays, dive with the sharks, or cool off in their water pad Fun Zone.
The Water Fun Zone is a popular place for families to take kids to play in a shallow water area, complete with a water playground of spouts and fountains.
Our favorite animal viewing exhibits in the Florida Aquarium are the black light-lit seahorse tanks and the fun lemur jungle gym area!
Everyone knows that Florida is a central place for alligators and crocodiles, and Croc Encounters is the best place to view these reptiles! This is a great place to spend the day and learn more about reptile wildlife.
Croc Encounters offers guided tours, educational sessions, and close-up encounters with a variety of reptiles. We recommend experiencing the self-guided tour on Saturdays through the park!
We love that they offer packages for birthday parties and events, which is a great spin for any special occasion. This is a must when exploring options for animal attractions in Tampa Bay.
Horsepower is a hidden gem near Oldsmar. This non-profit location offers interactions with horses, shetland ponies, goats, guinea pigs, and more!
The most popular attraction at HorsePower has to be the horseback riding experience – great for beginners or people that just want to have the experience!
This is the perfect spot for young kiddos as well. With a child-size zip line, playground, and picnic area – your child is sure to have an amazing time.
Alligator Attraction brings hands-on animal experiences to the Madeira Beach area. This homegrown attraction features alligators, amphibians, and other reptiles. They also feature some marine life!
We love how up close and personal you can get with the animals – especially with the tortoise exhibit! Be sure to check out their “Kiss A Gator” exhibit – a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else unless you recreate it in the wildlife, which we do not recommend.
Located in Palm Harbor is the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary. This spot is a non-profit organization that houses over 100 different types of animals, focusing on monkeys and orangutans. Here, you can view chimpanzees, reptiles, tropical birds, and more!
The Sanctuary offers a place for animals to live after they are no longer being taken care of as personal pets or if working in testing labs or movies. We love that you can feed the primates – a must-try experience! Suncoast focuses on investing in the spaces for their animals, without the souvenirs and theatrics.
Pro-tip: We definitely recommend bringing food to Suncoast, as they do not offer concessions at the park.
While RumFish Grill is a great restaurant, they also offer an even cooler “Swim With The Fish” experience! Go snorkeling in their 33,500-gallon tank – full of tarpon, snook, sharks, and even a green moray eel!
The experience is offered to swimmers ages 8 and up, and they provide all the supplies that you need. RumFish also has trained lifeguards, so you don’t have to worry about any mishaps!
Mote Aquarium in Sarasota is a non-profit animal attraction dedicated to marine research and educating the Sarasota area about marine life.
We love their up-close exhibits, one of our favorites is Shark Zone, a beautiful display of bonnethead sharks and stingrays. You can also view the goliath grouper – a larger-than-life grouper species!
The Mote Aquarium offers tons of experiences you can’t miss out on. From breakfast with sharks, kayaking, family programs, and even boat tours!
If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind animal attractions in Tampa Bay, Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is the place for you.
This wild bird rescue takes care of sick and injured sea birds. Also operating as a tourist attraction, you can visit this beautiful attraction – with 3 acres of beachfront property.
There are over 100 birds on display – can you believe that? From Eastern Brown Pelicans, American White Pelicans, Hawks, and more!
We love how different this sanctuary is and how the focus is on birds. Check out their website for special events for kids in their youth activities classroom!