Dolphin Research Center

Vacation Travel Guide

Learn about the playful nature of dolphins before swimming alongside these clever marine mammals at this entertaining research facility.

For more than half a century, Grassy Key has been home to one of the most progressive and dedicated dolphinariums in the United States: the Dolphin Research Center. The facility comprises a series of enclosed lagoons covering more than 2 acres (0.87 hectares). Swim with the dolphins or learn how to communicate with these exceptional creatures as you discover their gentle and playful nature.

The Dolphin Research Center began life as a small vacation attraction when a local fisherman opened an open-air aquarium on the side of the Overseas Highway. In the decades since, the center has undergone many transformations and is today operated by a team of trainers, scientists and environmentalists who strive to build awareness of the plight of dolphins and sea lions.

As one of the most visited attractions in the Florida Keys, the Dolphin Research Center can get very busy during public holidays and weekends. Make a reservation to swim with the dolphins and hold on as you’re pushed through the water. Feel the smooth skin of the dolphins as they nuzzle your hand. During the session you’ll be learning about the hand gestures used by trainers to communicate with the dolphins.

Professional photographs of your experience with the dolphins can be purchased from the Dolphin Research Center, making for a great souvenir. Take your own photographs at the large viewing platforms as you watch the animals play in the shallow end of the lagoons.

Before you leave, make your way across the center to visit the equally playful and cute sea lions. After you’ve dried off, stop by the café for refreshments or a quick meal. The in-house children’s play area will keep your children occupied while you sit back with a sandwich or a coffee.

The Dolphin Research Center is located just off the Overseas Highway on Grassy Key and is best reached by car. Free parking is available on-site. An admission fee applies, and reservations are necessary if you’d like to interact with the dolphins.

Top things to do in Dolphin Research Center

Top Hotels Close to Dolphin Research Center

Gulf View Waterfront Resort
Gulf View Waterfront Resort
58743 OVERSEAS HWY, Marathon, FL
The price is $235 per night from Dec 8 to Dec 8
Situated in Marathon, this hotel is 0.3 mi (0.6 km) from Curry Hammock State Park and 2 mi (3.3 km) from Crawl Key. Little Conch Key and Captain Hooks Marina ...
4.8/5 Exceptional! (16 reviews)
"Peaceful pristine, spacious garden."

Reviewed on Nov 1, 2021

Gulf View Waterfront Resort
Fully furnished  studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Marathon, FL
Situated by the sea, this romantic apartment building is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Curry Hammock State Park and 2.3 mi (3.8 km) from Crawl Key. Little Conch Key and ...
4.8/5 Exceptional! (30 reviews)
Keys getaway
"Great, clean little bungalow. Very quiet neighborhood, centrally located to many attractions. Host provided beach chairs, umbrellas, ice chest, etc great for going to the beach. Everything from the community pool to the pool furniture was brand new. Great detailed instruction book in the unit that ..."

Reviewed on Oct 1, 2021

Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished  studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Marathon, FL
Situated in Marathon, this apartment building is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Curry Hammock State Park and 2.3 mi (3.8 km) from Crawl Key. Little Conch Key and Captain ...
4.8/5 Exceptional! (22 reviews)
A little piece of heaven!
"No issues whatsoever, completely enjoyed my stay. They have an awesome jetty type path out into the Atlantic side with beautiful grass flats and deeper water close to shore for your fishing enjoyment. Bring your boat as the enclosed boat basin will keep it safe from the winds. All new docks and pilings ..."

Reviewed on Nov 2, 2021

Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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Best Lodging Options Near Dolphin Research Center

Gulf View Waterfront Resort
Gulf View Waterfront Resort
58743 OVERSEAS HWY, Marathon, FL
The price is $235 per night from Dec 8 to Dec 8
Gulf View Waterfront Resort
Fully furnished  studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Marathon, FL
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished  studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Marathon, FL
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished  studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Marathon, FL
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished  studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Marathon, FL
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished  studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Marathon, FL
Fully furnished studio, 50 yards from ocean, shared pool, fishing-jetty
Pelican RV Resort
Pelican RV Resort
3 out of 5
59151 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL
Pelican RV Resort
Gulf-front retreat w/ private heated pool, hot tub, boat ramp & new dock!
Gulf-front retreat w/ private heated pool, hot tub, boat ramp & new dock!
Marathon, FL
Gulf-front retreat w/ private heated pool, hot tub, boat ramp & new dock!
Hidden Paradise 3bed/3bath single family with open water views & dockage
Hidden Paradise 3bed/3bath single family with open water views & dockage
Marathon, FL
Hidden Paradise 3bed/3bath single family with open water views & dockage
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.