The Georgia Aquarium is a great family adventure in Atlanta, GA. There is a wide variety of displays and shows to please all age groups. You can learn about marine life, conservation, and the ocean in a fun interactive way.  We really enjoyed our visit and learned about their rehabilitation efforts for all kinds of marine life.

About the Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium houses more than a hundred thousand animals and represents several thousand species. It opened in 2005 and is the second largest aquarium in the world.  The aquarium is in downtown Atlanta within walking distance to the Civil Rights Museum, World of Coca-ColaCNN Center and the College Football Hall of Fame.

The Aquarium’s notable residents include whale sharks, beluga whales, California sea lions, bottle-nose dolphins, and manta rays. The aquarium is the only institution outside of Asia that houses whale sharks, which are kept in a 6.3 million gallon exhibit.

Exhibits

The aquarium’s animals are displayed in several galleries and exhibits. Each corresponds to a specific environment or an educational event.  I really enjoyed the variety and that you could interact with the animals.

Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone

Aquanaut Adventure is a unique experience that allows you to learn about aquatic life. The gallery offers seven different routes each with different adventures. Only five routes have to be completed in order to receive Georgia Aquarium Aquanaut certification. These challenges engage you in science, technology, engineering or math-related activities.  These are areas that are so important for our future and I love that kids get to have fun while learning.

You can explore freshwater and marine habitats, scientific research, and how animals thrive in extreme environments. The focus is to instill a sense of appreciation for our oceans, lakes, and rivers.  This is great for kids to learn about science and respect for all creatures.

Southern Company River Scout

In the Southern Company River Scout gallery, you will discover animals found in the rivers of Africa, South America, Asia and also in Georgia.

Albino alligators and an emerald tree boa can be found here. There is an area filled with piranha and the exhibit gives a close-up look at the razor sharp teeth of these predators.  They are not the most attractive creatures but it is cool to see them up close.

Tropical Diver

This is a relaxing area that features a large reef with many tropical fish. There are sea horses, garden eels, jellyfish, clownfish, and many other tropical fish. Kids love to find Nemo as well as seahorses, fairy basslets, and other sea creatures. There are also three exhibits of jellyfish which are very pretty.

Georgia Aquarium albino alligator
sea stars

Cold Water Quest

Cold Water Quest features animals from polar and other regions. This exhibit includes beluga whales, sea otters, Japanese spider crabs, and African penguins.

The Southern sea otter exhibit has a sneak peek window giving guests a look into the behind-the-scenes area for the sea otters. The kids love this window as it makes you feel like you are in the water with the otters. You get to see how the otters play and what great swimmers they are.

The African penguin exhibit features more than 25 nesting areas in natural rocks. Tunnels and pop-up windows allow you to get up close with the penguins. It is fun to see them waddle when they walk.

The beluga whale exhibit contains subarctic-temperature water as well as harbor seals. I love these whales as they look like they are smiling.

Ocean Voyager

Ocean Voyager gallery is home to four whale sharks, four manta rays, and thousands of other fish. This is one of the largest single aquatic exhibits in the world.

This exhibit was specially designed to house whale sharks. Schools of stingrays, goliath grouper and several sharks are found in the habitat. The 100-foot-long underwater tunnel and the 23 ft tall viewing window allow for an amazing view of these creatures.  It is really impressive and makes you feel you are in the ocean with them.

SunTrust Pier 225

SunTrust Pier 225 is a new gallery featuring the California sea lion. The Under the Boardwalk presentation gives a close-up look at these social sea lions. You get to see the sea lions behaviors and learn more about them.

l like that the trainers educate on the dangers the sea lions face in their natural environment and factors that impact them.  Two of the pups were stranded in California and the aquarium rescued and rehabilitated them.

AT&T Dolphin Celebration

The Georgia aquarium houses around thirteen bottle-nose dolphins. The show lasts about 20 to 30 minutes and includes information and education about the dolphins and their care. This used to be a full show with lights and music, but the aquarium changed it after complaints.  Now the focus is teaching about dolphins.  Dolphins are my favorite and I love how happy they seem.

otter
whale shark
beluga whale
dolphin show

Other Activities

There are lots of other special activities at the aquarium. They feature “4D” movies and a virtual reality simulator which takes guests on a trip through prehistoric seas. Waddle walk is a way for the penguins to get interaction and you can see them walking in the aquarium at certain times.

The aquarium also offers various encounters to interact with these creatures. You can choose from penguin, dolphin and sea otter encounters. There are also educational opportunities for school kids. One fun one is Sleep Under the Sea.  Kids and their parents can sleepover at the aquarium and then the next day spend time in the aquarium seeing all the exhibits.  That sounds like so much fun.

Final thoughts

I am always torn between wanting creatures to be free in the wild and places like the aquarium.  It is important to educate both kids and adults about these creatures to encourage compassion and understanding.  As long as the animals are treated well and it is handled in a positive manner, I am ok with it.

Overall, the Georgia Aquarium is fun, educational, and conservation focused. I enjoy going there and learning about these creatures.  I love that kids (and adults) can learn about science, math, and conservation of animals through interactive learning tools.  That is the future and I like that the aquarium is trying to teach us all to be more compassionate and better understand these beautiful creatures.  Well worth the visit.

All life is important, no matter how small

Rating (4 stars):

Pros: Modern, lots of variety, dolphin show, educational

Cons: crowded, limited shows

Priority: Medium – fun for the family and educational

Cost: $ 31.95 (20% discount if purchase online)

Savvy Tip: Get a City Pass to save money and walk to World of Coke, CNN, College Football HOF

Website: GA Aquarium