If you are a fan of mermaids, chances are you’d love to see one in person. But as we’ve covered before, while the odds of you seeing a real mermaid are not zero, they are pretty slim. Never fear, though, mermaid performers are a close second to the real thing, and they are all over.
There has perhaps never been a better time for fans of mermaid performers. The recent explosion in their popularity means that there is likely a spot to catch them in your own hometown or along the route of your next road trip.
We’ve assembled seven great places to see a live mermaid show. We’ll begin in Florida where it all began.
Weeki Wachee Springs (Florida)
This is the granddaddy of all mermaid performances. It began with Navy man Newton Perry setting up his roadside attraction an hour north of Tampa in 1947. He converted the natural springs with oxygen hoses and built a place for visitors to look into the water, and he hired performers to play the part of the mermaids.
The show has come a long way from its humble origins. The attraction is now accompanied by a Weeki Wachee waterpark, wildlife shows, and even more events — making for a great family attraction. What began as a rinky-dink execution of a great idea has become a highly professionalized affair with solid production values and lots of experience.
The development of the area has taken some of the emphasis away from the mermaid show that started it all, but it remains the home of mermaid performing.
Wreck Bar (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Fridays and Saturdays at the Wreck Bar are must-attend events for mermaid enthusiasts. That’s when Marina Duran-Anderson’s mermaids make their grand appearance at the Sheraton Hotel’s famous bar.
The performances take place in the hotel’s pool, equipped with port holes for easy viewing by guests. The format is a unique one. Rather than relying on choreographed numbers, the mermaids produce a kind of free-jazz aquatic performance — you’ll never see the same one twice. This is a classic, long running show, with roots going back to the 1950’s. There is one update: the occasional mermen burlesque show.
Each show is a full half hour, and with easy access to the bar, I’m sure that your evening will kick off from there — while there is no entrance fee, there is a $30 minimum.
Ripley’s Aquarium (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
Ripley’s Believe it or Not is a very strange chain of museums. Made up of mind-bending panoramas and playful exhibits, it’s like America’s largest curiosity cabinet. Their aquariums are especially fun, combining their trademark sense of the weird with life under the sea. So what better place for a mermaid performance?
At their Myrtle Beach location, mermaid performers make regular appearances, swimming alongside the exotic marine life assembled in the Ripley Bay. With an enormous viewing display and a colorful assortment of fish, manta rays, and the like, it is one of the most elaborate and dazzling mermaid performances in the country.
You can catch the mermaids on weekends, with shows running at 12, 2, and 4.
The Sip ‘n Dip Lounge (Great Falls, Montana)
The Sip ‘n Dip Lounge is a kitsch lover’s dream come true. It is one of the few surviving tiki bars built at the height of the fad in 1967. In that time, they’ve retained the same piano player, “Piano Pat” Spoonheim, who still plays four nights a week despite being in her eighties. But the lounge lands on this list not for its tacky charm but for its mermaid performers.
The bar has six female mermaids who perform five nights a week. And what about the mermen? They show up on Tuesdays for ladies’ night.
The bar was visited by the great Daryl Hannah (with Nick Nolte and Anthony Edwards in tow) in 2002 while the three were shooting a film nearby. After signing the glass looking into the mermaid tank, Hannah donned the fish tail and swam around herself.
Downtown Aquarium (Denver, Colorado)
Denver is lucky to have such an amazing aquarium available. But a wide range of aquatic life doesn’t get you on our list — it’s the aquarium’s Mystic Mermaids and their Under the Sea Exhibit performances that do that.
These mermaids are the real deal. They have no tube oxygen supply and swim in salt water (have you ever had to hold your eyes open in salt water?). The performers work anywhere from one to four shows a day, entertaining audiences of all ages while interacting with sea turtles, yellowtail snappers, eels, and more. These shows have tightly choreographed routines along with interactive segments — all wrapped up with a message of conservation and protecting the environment.
For anyone with youngsters, this is a great hybrid of an educational journey through the aquarium with the fanciful highlight of a mermaid show with a positive message.
Silverton Casino (Las Vegas, Nevada)
The Mermaid Lounge at the Silverton Casino off the strip in Las Vegas is a great stop for mermaid lovers in the city. Its enormous tank (117,000 gallons of saltwater) holds thousands of fish and hosts mermaid performances starting on Thursday and running through the weekend.
The interior design lands somewhere between a sports bar and the inside of an aquarium, making it a bit of a departure from the typical mermaid bar show. It’s like the owner of a Hooters watched Splash and got a bright idea.
This is more of an adult experience, what with the booze and the scantily clad waitresses. Nevertheless, it is an impressive mermaid performance worth seeing in between games of blackjack and whatever else it is people do in Vegas.
Dive Bar (Sacramento, California)
Last, but certainly not least, is Sacramento’s Dive Bar. This is the most couture offering on our list — not pursuing vintage cheesiness or Disneyfied family fun. Instead, the Dive Bar presents impeccably costumed merfolk in an artful presentation.
Their Instagram feed shows you everything you need to know about this hyper-trendy attraction. With such great design, it is more an art experience than a roadside attraction. The mermen are especially beloved features of this bar, receiving a hero’s welcome whenever they get into the tank — providing a little gender balance in the ogling department.