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Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key

4.4
#2 of 12 in Wildlife in Marathon
Wildlife Area Nature / Park
The saltwater lagoons at Dolphin Research Center are home to a family of bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions, and offer educational and interactive experiences with marine life. The center originally opened in 1958 as Santini’s Porpoise School and became famous after a few of its dolphins starred in the 1963 film Flipper. The site was founded in 1984 as a non-profit research center and continues to promote the understanding of marine mammals. The center has educational presentations every half-hour and opportunities for live animal encounters. Not only can you swim with the dolphins here, but you can also paint with them. Use our Marathon trip builder to visit Dolphin Research Center on your trip to Marathon, and learn what else travelers and our writers recommend seeing nearby.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
2,172 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • What a wonderful time we had learning about dolphins at the DRC. My husband and I already loved dolphins but seeing them so close up and the interaction they had with all the staff at the center was a...  more »
  • We have an 8 year old and 3 year old and they both loved here. I did the swim with the Reese and Louise with my 8 year old and my husband did the family splash with Pax and they were both very excited...  more »
  • After both my daughter and I swimming and interacting with the dolphins here a year ago we could not wait to go back. This year we signed our 11 year old up for the research experience. From the momen...  more »
Google
  • Wonderful place! Always something to do or see. We couldn't afford the swimming or meeting the dolphins but that was just fine. All dolphins are interactive with guest. It's an all day pass once you pay so if you need a break you could come back later. Staff was excellent and even while working they took time to answer questions. Spent around four hours watching different training sessions because there is always something going on. Well worth the $22.
  • One of the most memorable experiences of my life. I absolutely loved my dolphin experience! The staff is wonderful and the dolphins are happy and well taken care of. I highly recommend this place!
  • Wonderful place to come. Lots of dolphin and sea lion viewing. Great water splash area for the kids to cool down. Lots of fun learning about these amazing animals.
  • We had an amazing time here. You can tell how passionate the trainers are with the dolphins and also the dolphins love the trainers. They answered all questions my son had about the dolphins, and believe me, he had tons of questions. It was a really special moment we will remember forever. The highlight of our vacation.
  • What an amazing experience!The staff was great and we got to spend a lot of time in the water with the dolphins. Highly recommend this experience if you are visiting key west!

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Where to stay in Marathon

A large resort is an ideal choice for a family vacation. These vacation complexes often have a pool and provide a wide range of activities to keep children entertained. Marathon’s small hotels or inns are good options for a more romantic break. Renting a private waterfront vacation property provides a luxurious home away from home for those with time for a longer visit.
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