For a while (30 minutes, I kid you not) Jimmy and I just sat quietly on the risers in the dim, soothing blue room, mesmerized by the thousands of fish floating by in the largest aquarium habitat in the world (6.3 million gallons of seawater). Did I mention Jimmy can sleep sitting up?
Of course, Jimmy and I would probably get absolutely nothing done all day if our 30-minute trance inside the Ocean Voyager Exhibit was any indication. Jimmy’s afternoon power nap would evolve into an all-day affair and my blogging would wash up on the shores of my own mesmerizing sea of wonder.
Okay, maybe we’ll stick to the aquarium circuit.
There was no better place to start than the Georgia Aquarium!
When your 88-year-old father indicates his visit to the Georgia Aquarium was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, his suggestion holds a lot of water (not 6.3 million gallons of water of course, but close).
Let me preface my advice, in turn, with a warning. You’re stepping into the world’s largest aquarium (at least when it opened in 2005). The lights keep changing, the exhibits just keep getting better and better; the number of people just keep growing exponentially. Mammal and reptile are everywhere.
If you have a grandchild in tow, the fun and excitement will double, if not triple depending on any number of kid variables – age, temperament, number of kids in tow, number of adults in the aquarium towing kids, and ability of both kids and adults to follow directions. Take a deep breath. Swimming with the sharks was never more fun.
Get there as early as you can! The aquarium had morphed into a zoo by the time Jimmy and I left around 2 p.m. We got there when it opened at 10 a.m. on a school day. Don’t the kids in Atlanta go to school? You can't tell me all these people were tourists. You can? Okay.
Fortunately, Jimmy and I didn’t have any grandkids in tow, which sounds horrible, I know. But given what I know now about the size and scope of this facility, the waters run deep. You and your little ones could get lost or drown in those waters if you don't find your sea legs. Make sure you come up for air on a regular basis! This is the voice of experience.
I was the one having trouble swimming! I was the one with ADD, the one with the camera, the one with eyes as big as a fish. I was the kid in tow as Jimmy tried to keep us moving along. We had another seven hours of driving on the back side of our visit to reach my father’s home in central Florida.
I could go on about all the freaky frogs in attendance;
The Bottom Line on Atlanta's Georgia Aquarium:
Verdict: WOW! Eat your heart out Jacques Cousteau! My father was right. This is an underwater Disney World kids of all ages (even 88 year-olds) won't want to miss.
How to Get There: Specific directions from every direction are provided via the aquarium
website. Options include local trains and buses also.
Insider tips: Purchase your tickets online and skip the long lines. The AT&T Dolphin Tales Show (a must see) is part of the ticket price, but requires reservations, so book asap upon arrival. Pay for parking online and receive one dollar off the $10 price tag. If you have the time (the ticket is good for 9 days from the purchase date), consider purchasing the Georgia Aquarium Combo Ticket ($69, a little less than twice the cost of adult admission to the aquarium), which includes access to the World of Coca Cola, Zoo Atlanta or Atlanta History Museum AND The Margaret Mitchell House (Gone With the Wind author), a tour of CNN Atlanta Studio, and the High Museum of Art or Fernbank Museum of Natural History. All bags are searched before entering the aquarium, so leave what you can in the car or hotel room.
Nearby Food: The onsite Café Aquaria offers cafeteria style food and serves the typical kid friendly fare – hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and pasta. Salads and custom built sandwiches are geared more towards the big kids.