The aquarium was one of the first attractions in Key West, built in the early 1930's. At that time it was the largest open-air aquarium in the world, consisting of about three large tanks. Since then they have been enclosed indoors, and around the perimeter more tanks have been added. Outside was built an exhibit sharing water with the ocean, and a mangrove habitat.
My grandfather and I visited in late March while killing time before the sunset at Mallory Square. There was no line at the ticket counter, so we quickly got our tickets (costing ten dollars apiece and good for two days). Our first impression was the lack of people around, only about fifteen or so. Even though the aquarium is a small facility, we still felt like we had it to ourselves. We walked through the three areas in about thirty minutes, and we took the time at each window. The quality to me was maybe a couple steps better than a pet store. My favorite exhibit was the touch tank in the front, where I got hands-on with sea cucumbers as well as hermit and horseshoe crabs.
My overall impression is that it was a little outdated compared to the majority of aquariums today, and that the value wasn’t great (maybe about half as good as others I have visited). Still, one will find not-so-good value in most attractions in Key West. I feel that my rating of four stars was a little generous, but still gave it because I think that the attraction, on the whole, is well meaning and worthwhile.
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