Kids get to touch such cool stuff as stingrays (minus the stinger) and watch sharks in the shark tank at this excellent aquarium. Part of the noted Mote Marine Laboratory complex, it is more broad-based than Tampa's Florida Aquarium, which concentrates primarily on local sea life. See manatees in the Marine Mammal Center, a block's walk from the aquarium, as well as many research-in-progress exhibits. Start by watching the aquarium's 12-minute film on the feeding habits of sharks; allow at least 90 minutes to take in everything on land. Add another 2 hours for a narrated sea- life encounter cruise with the Sarasota Bay Explorers (tel. 727/388-4200; These fun, informative cruises visit a deserted island, and the guides throw out nets and bring up sea life for inspection. Try to make reservations a day in advance. This company has unusual kayaking adventures too.