Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key

4.5
#2 of 13 in Wildlife in Marathon
The saltwater lagoons at Dolphin Research Center are home to a family of 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. To visit Dolphin Research Center and get the most from your holiday in Marathon, create itinerary details personal to you using our Marathon travel itinerary planner.
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Dolphin Research Center Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
2,246 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • Glad we stopped to enjoy a visit with the dolphins and sea lions. The facility had numerous presentations. The staff was extremely knowledgeable and engaging. Their passion was contagious. I would hig...  more »
  • Great experience, staff very knowledgeable. Was able to watch sea otter and dolphin training with general admission. They do offer experiences like swim with dolphins  more »
  • Very expensive....but we do understand!!! It was the best birthday for our grandchildren... Something they will remember for ever!!!  more »
Google
  • Fantastic place to interact with dolphins in very rare natural lagoons in Gulf of Mexico not cement tanks. In water swims or dock based encounters to suit your comfort or abilities. Wonderful place for kids & adults alike to learn about these magnificent beings. Large population of dolphins from very young to mid forties. Bloodlines direct to THE Original Flipper. Californa Sea Lions also on site are a great added treat. Staff places priority on all the animals & show a genuine connection & affection for them. This non-profit facility is highly worthy of your time & support. It is a "MUST STOP"
  • Great visit on December 17 2017 - light crowd due to season / hurricane. Still recovering from hurricane but still awesome. Staff was excellent - it's great how close you can get to and observe these fantastic creatures! Great detail and engagement from all the staff.
  • I have been here twice in the past 10 years and I really love the dolphin research center. The staff is friendly and welcoming and the dolphins and other sea animals are well cared for and happy. Most of the dolphins cannot safely return to the wild and so this is their new home. They are not forced to perform , in fact they seem so happy to be playing and interacting with their trainers. Even when there are no scheduled programs its nice to sit in the shade and watch the dolphins swim and play with their friends , and they like to watch you as well and frequently come to the surface to check you out or talk to you. I look forward to coming back in the future and contributing to the care of this majestic and intelligent mammals.
  • One of the greatest experience anyone young or old can imagine. Very informative and polite staff you can find in grassy key. I recommend this as the greatest hot spots when visiting the fabulous Florida keys.
  • It is a totally amazing experience! The dolphins - incredible! The tour's a must!! AND EVERY PERSON THERE IS so knowledgeable & friendly! Can't find a nicer way to spend the day! Thank you Everyone! 💖🐬 Love, Liz, Stella & Tracy

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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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