I love going to Georgia. Its where my husband was born and raised and where I lived for a couple of years when we first were married. There is so much history to learn and experience. I quickly found out what the SEC was all about before my Missouri Tigers were asked to join the club. I loved the weather, all the southern charm, the beautiful antebellum homes and the country food. I haven’t learned to love the traffic around Atlanta though.
When we started planning our next trip to Georgia, I knew the first place I wanted to see. The Georgia Aquarium.
Even though we had to drive through Atlanta traffic, thank goodness for my son-in-law being our driver and tour guide, I couldn’t wait to see the aquarium. I’ve always been fascinated with creatures in the ocean. I guess because I can’t see them and wonder what lies beneath.
A Little About the Aquarium
Before 2012 and the opening of the Singapore Aquarium, the title for the world’s largest aquarium went to the Georgia Aquarium which contains some 10 million gallons of water which opened in 2005 and houses the only whale sharks outside of Asia. Home Depot owner, Bernard Marcus, donated $250 million which provided the bulk of the money needed to build and stock the new facility. Along with over 100,000 animals exhibited, you will see belugas, sea otters, African penguins, and a variety of manta rays. And lets not forget my favorite, the latest exhibit called the Dolphin Celebration.
Long before opening, the aquarium was already working with Georgia Tech and Georgia State University in Atlanta and the University of Georgia in Athens to help save endangered species through education and research programs. The aquarium’s conservation and environmental mission is important to founder Mr. Marcus.
Visiting the Aquarium
When you walk into the main lobby area of the building, after a strict security check of personal items brought in, you see all the different exhibits to choose from. Even though we had a map, we decided to just go from one exhibit to another. There is also a nice cafe and gift shop in this area. Hint: You have to go through the Gift Shop on the way out of the aquarium
There are over 100,000 thousand animals in this aquarium and we tried to see them all! There is so much beauty in some of the species and then there are some which make you wonder.
The Cold Water Quest which houses the penguins, beluga whales and sea otters is a must see, especially for the kids. There is an area where when you stand up, your head is inside of the exhibit, which puts you up close and personal with the penguins. The kids can also enjoy a “touch” area owith some sea creatures.
I loved going through the tunnel where you can see all the fish, sharks and manta rays over your head from the Ocean Voyager tank.
When you get to the end of the tunnel, you have a chance to sit and watch the divers in the tank and chat with them. The manta rays wing span is about 16′ across!
This was my favorite place in the aquarium. The Pacific Barrier Reef is a recreation of a reef which you see waves and so many smaller tropical fish. The exhibit is 49’ long x 47’ wide, and it is 18’ deep. The entire system holds 163,765 gallons! As you can see in the picture, children were just amazed at all the fish. And in all honestly, the adults were too! We all enjoyed resting on the benches and enjoying the calmness of this reef.
There are several webcams which you can see whats going on live in different tank areas.
Aquarium Visit Plans
- Tickets are available at the ticket booth or can be purchased in advance online or by phoning the Call Center at 404-581-4000. General Admission includes movies at the 4D Theater. You can see the scheduled movies here. Admission to the dolphin presentation is included with your General Admission ticket. Seating is first come first served and you should arrive 30 minutes before the show starts.
- There are several Events the aquarium offers to experience. EX: Sleep Under the Sea, Toddler Time, Birthday parties and several other programs and activities which can be found here.
- The Aquarium was really crowded the day we went, but it was also spring break for so many. Planning to arrive early is a must to avoid the crowds or visit in the fall or winter months.
- Allow at least 3-4 hours when visiting the Aquarium, this will provide plenty of time to visit all the exhibits and to see the Dolphin Show and 4D movie. Be sure to check for all the different feeding times so you won’t miss those.
- Take advantage of the guided tours that are offered at the Aquarium. The “Behind the Scenes” tour is limited to visitors 10 years or older and can be reserved prior to a visit and can be purchased tickets online or by calling the phone number listed above. The one hour “Behind the Scenes” tour takes visitors into the areas of the most popular exhibits that are generally off limits and also to the Veterinary Clinic where the Aquarium staff cares for the animals and the Commissary where they prepares the food for the animals.
- For visitors looking for a closer look at the Aquarium’s animals and a very unique experience, consider one of the Animal Encounters programs, such as the “Dolphin Encounter”, the “Sea Otter Encounter” or the “Penguin Encounter”. There is also other opportunities for visitors and animals to interact, such as the “Journey with the Gentle Giants” where visitor swim or dive with the whale sharks, manta rays and other sea animals in the Ocean Voyager exhibit or the “Beluga & Friends interactive program” that provides an exclusive experience.
After leaving the aquarium, you can walk just a few feet and enjoy the World of Coca Cola. Since my SIL works for Coke, we had our own personal tour guide. Tons to see and so much history to learn about one of the worlds best loved beverages. Be sure to stop by the tasting area where you can taste Coke flavors from all over the world.
Planning a trip to Atlanta? Be sure to check here for things to do.