Things You Must See at Georgia Aquarium

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Over the last few years, I’ve been hearing from so many people about this aquarium that we HAD to visit.  They would describe it with terms like “amazing”, “huge”, “a must-see”…   They all told me that the girls would love it and that we would have to take the eight and a half hour drive.  In January, I finally decided that we were going to the Georgia Aquarium and wound up turning it into a family road trip that we will never forget.

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We Have Arrived.

We arrived in Atlanta last Monday night and once we checked into the Hilton Garden Inn, we spent about an hour walking around Downtown Atlanta, We were just minutes from Georgia Aquarium and had to check it out, even though they were already closed for the night.  We couldn’t believe the size of the building itself.  We learned that Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere with more than 10 million gallons of water.   That’s a whole lot of water! And they aren’t done.  They plan a huge expansion in 2020 which means we’ll have to return and check it out!

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Capturing the Excitement.

We arrived at Georgia Aquarium early on Tuesday morning, excited about what was in store.  I was lucky enough to catch Falynn’s expression as she walked in for the first time.   This one picture completely set the tone for the day ahead.  There was a lot of pointing and surprised faces throughout our visit.  All three of the girls couldn’t wait to see more and Georgia Aquarium definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s no wonder they were named Top Aquarium by Trip Advisor!

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The Waddle Walk.

We started the day off at the Waddle Walk, which allows you to see African penguins up close.  Everyone gathered around and waited for the arrival of this amazing species.  The girls were especially excited about it because they had never been that close to a penguin before.   We recommend getting there about 15-20 minutes early because the crowds may make it difficult for your little ones to see (unless they are sitting on Dad’s shoulders like my little one was).

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Once they got the crowd pumped up, 2 trainers walked out with two adorable little African penguins.  As they strolled down the ramp, they talk about this endangered species, the Aquarium’s preservation efforts and how we can help protect these beautiful birds.  My girls were oohing and aahing at every move they made.  They were even cuter than we could have imagined.

AT&T Dolphin Celebration.

Another must see was the AT&T Dolphin Celebration experience! There is no photography allowed once the show starts, so I can’t share any photos, but it was definitely Iyla and Falynn’s favorite part of the day.  Iyla even mentioned that she wants to learn how to swim underwater so that she can be a dolphin trainer one day.

The presentation is a fun and exciting experience that showcases dolphin behavior and their relationship with their trainers while incorporating important educational messages. We definitely suggest that you arrive at the theater at least 30 minutes prior to the showtime as it fills up really quickly.  If you want to get wet, make sure to sit in the first 10 rows which is designated as “the splash zone.”

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Cold Water Quest.

Next, it was off to Cold Water Quest to see the penguins exhibit, which features more than 25 nesting areas integrated into naturalistic rockwork and comes equipped with a state-of-the-art lighting system that mimics the natural light cycle from twilight to moonlight.  The girls loved going into the tunnels and popping their heads up in the acrylic windows to see the penguins up close and personal. It’s a great place for a photo opp too.

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Lucia’s favorite part of the entire day had to be the Southern sea otter exhibit.  These adorable little guys were floating around, holding their toys and being playful and so cute.  I felt like they were posing for pictures, giving me the cutest shots.  We could have watched them all day.  This particular exhibit has doubled in size and has been modified to include additional deck space for trainer-animal interactions. New to the exhibit, a sneak peek window has been added, giving guests a look into the behind-the-scenes area for the sea otters. Did you know that the Southern sea otter belongs to the same family as weasels and wolverines?

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Tropical Diver.

Tropical Diver is the largest living reef exhibit of any aquarium. It is home to living corals and thousands of colorful reef fish.  It’s definitely the most relaxing of the exhibits which are appropriately arranged like a gallery of living art. My girls were excited to search for Nemo and Dory (they found both) as well as seahorses and other jewels of the sea.

My favorite part?  The three impressive exhibits of jellies (“jellyfish”) which totally mesmerized us all. I had seen jellyfish before, but never like this.  They were each more amazing than the other.  We noticed that one had a heart shape, another a star… and I must have taken a hundred pictures of them.  They are seriously fascinating and stunning creatures.

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Another of our favorites was the seadragon which is related to the seahorse.  There was a small crowd around their tank, just staring at them, trying to figure out if they were real.  They literally looked like sticks falling from the top of the tank to the bottom. They also had this fascinating propellor-like fin around their neck that we just couldn’t stop staring at.   It was something I never knew existed.

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Puffins Have Landed!

These adorable seabirds are the newest addition to Georgia Aquarium. Puffins are only about 10 inches tall and weigh less than a pound! These diving seabirds “fly” underwater to catch their prey. And as you can see, they are also very adorable!  We spent quite a while watching them and they seemed to get up close and personal with us.  Perhaps they were posing for the camera?  Did you know that puffins swim by using wings to “fly” under water?

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Black Spot Piranha.

We found this fish almost immediately. The girls were immediately intrigued by it’s glittery appearance.  I believe we called it a “glitter fish” for quite a while, until I looked it up and found out it’s actually a black spot piranha!  As with other piranhas, this species has very sharp teeth that can inflict serious bites.  So, don’t let the sparkly appearance fool you!

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Ending the Day in the Georgia Aquarium Gift Shop.

Of course, no trip is complete until we’ve visited the gift shop.  The girls were able to choose one item to remember their day at Georgia Aquarium.  Dad and I even got ourselves a little something, a reusable water bottle so we can do away with the plastic ones we had been carrying around.  They actually came in very handy for the remainder of our trip!

I can honestly say that Georgia Aquarium was worth the trip.  While we spent the entire day there, I’m sure there are still things we didn’t get to see!  On our next visit, we plan to check out the Dolphin Encounter to get up close and personal with the dolphins!

Have you ever been to the Georgia Aquarium?  Comment below and let us know!

Here are the things you must see at Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA

This post is sponsored by Georgia Aquarium and we were given free admission in exchange for our review, the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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I'm so honored that you've found us! I'm Heather, a Mom of 3 who blogs about parenting, food, occasional travel and how I overcame my daily struggle with anxiety. I miss sleeping and rely on coffee and laughter to get me through the day. I hope you enjoy and visit often!

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  1. Although I wouldn’t go to an aquarium myself due to personal reasons with being against keeping marine animals captive, your pictures are absolutely stunning! And the animals sure are adorable!

  2. I went to Georgia Aquarium a few years ago and absolutely loved it! Your pictures speak for itself how amazing time your family had!

  3. Wow, such a fantastic aquarium! I wouldn’t pass up the chance to see a penguin, just adorable. Looks like a great way to spend the day.

  4. We had a blast this last summer in Georgia. We loved the aquarium so much! We are going back in June! So excited!

  5. I love those expressions of wonder on your daughters’ faces. Sounds like the whole family had a grand time!

  6. As many times as I’ve been to Atlanta, I’ve never been to the Georgia Aquarium. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. I’d love to see all these creatures up close. I’ll have to try to make a trip the next time I’m in Atlanta.

  7. Oh wow! I’m not sure my kids could ever leave that place. it is absolutely one of the most fun places I’ve ever seen.

  8. Wow, this place looks incredible. There’s so much to do and see there! Looks like a brilliant place to take the whole family

  9. This looks like such a fun visit! I think aquariums are underrated. I have so much fun every time I visit one, and it’s usually a last-minute plan!

  10. What an awesome adventure for you and your kids! My family would love to check that aquarium out one day!

  11. We love the aquarium! At the Monterey Bay Aquarium in CA, you can actually have a sleep over next to an exhibit!

  12. What a fabulous trip for you and your family. I love the penguins. My assistant has small children who would love to visit this aquarium, I will be sure to pass this along to her. Thank you for sharing your families experience.

  13. We aren’t too far from there; I have always loved a great aquarium and it looks like this doesn’t disappoint!

  14. I had no idea this place exsisted the girls look like they had so much fun especially in the gift shop lol

  15. Georgia is my home state and we visit Atlanta quite often. The Georgia Aquarium is AMAZING! Beyond worth the visit. It is so beautiful the way they have the exhibits set up. I had no idea they would be doing an expansion in 2020, that is exciting. I’ll have to plan another visit too!

  16. I’m headed to Atlanta in the fall. I love aquariums so this is something I would definitely want to check out while there.

  17. Looks like your kids were having a blast! Am going to the one in Toronto in April and cannot wait to see all those creatures!

  18. I am all about the Cold Water Quest – I mean, come on… penguins?! Yes, yes, yes! Sign me up! This aquarium looks like so much fun.

  19. You just gave me a wonderful idea. I think my kid will be happy to visit this Aquarium! Looks a lot of fun!

  20. My niece loves this aquarium! Unfortunately we weren’t able to go last time we were in the area (after a 16-hour drive!), but it is definitely in our must-see list. Your story confirms that even more.

  21. I love the Georgia Aquarium but haven’t been in ages. This post is really making me want to go back soon.

  22. It’s been so long since we have gone. We really need to visit again soon. I love the sweet otters!

  23. For many years I wanted to be a marine biologist because of all the aquariums we visited when I was a kid. My absolute favorite bird is the puffin, and even if I saw them every day, I’d never tire of them. We saw some in Maine last summer. The Georgia Aquarium looks so great, I would love to visit it one day.

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  24. I love visiting aquariums with my family. This aquarium looks like a lot of fun. Would love to visit with my family.

  25. my husband frequents Georgia for work trips, and he always visits the aquarium while there. the pictures never disappoint.

  26. I love those seadragon, very pretty and unique sea creatures. Aquariums are such a fun place to visit especially with kids.

  27. Wow that looks like such a fun place!! We’re actually going to Georgia next month so we might have to add this to our list of places to check out!

  28. Love the look on the kids faces they are having so much fun. We enjoy visiting places like this and enjoying see what nature has to offer.

  29. So many great animals to see at that aquarium. I have not been in a few years so I have to take my kids to the one by me. I always liked penguins they are so cute.

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  30. This is such a gorgeous aquarium. I’ve always wanted to go to this one and then check out the coke place nearby. We always enjoy going through aquariums.

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  31. I actually miss the aquarium. We don’t really have a good one around us. I can’t wait until my son gets older and can really start to appreciate these things. It will be so cute to see his reaction to everything.

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      I think that’s my favorite part when we go to places like this! Seeing it through your children’s eyes is everything!

  32. My children would love to go there. It looks like a great place to go for a family day out. We haven’t really visited many aquariums yet.

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  33. Definitely, my daughter will love to go there. All of those things are amazing. I should go there very soon. Thanks anyway!

  34. Wow Pictures are amazing. What a wonderful place to have some fun with kids. Thank you for sharing such an amazing post.

  35. This looks wonderful! My daughters love visiting aquariums and we have had some really great experiences but haven’t visited here yet. We are definitely adding the Georgia Aquarium to our travel list!

  36. I love aquariums soooo much! This makes me want to go back so bad. I think we’ll have to take the boys to one again this Summer…

  37. We love visiting aquariums. I find them so relaxing. My favorite part is always the jelly fish. This looks like a fun one!

  38. What a cute blog! I love love love your logo. I can’t believe it was established just in 2017! You really are a super mom! Your pictures are beautiful. I am definitely adding your blog to my bookmarked ones. Thanks for the review of this aquarium.

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  39. I officially NEED to go to an aquarium again! I haven’t been in AGES UPON AGES!!! But sea creatures are so insanely unique and interesting!

  40. My family loves visiting aquariums and this one sounds like a must see. I would love to go there someday, it looks like so much fun!

  41. I have never been to an aquarium before and neither have my kiddos. I would love to take my kiddos to this one.

  42. I want to go! My kids would love this place, heck I’d be mesmerized by this place. I just love otters and waddling penguins.

  43. What a great aquarium. I have to admit I haven’t been to one for ages, but my son loves them, so we have plans to visit our local aquarium soon!

  44. I love taking the kids to the Aquarium. We have not been to the one in Atlanta yet. Its not only fun for the kids but as a mom I love that they are learning too.

  45. Simply beautiful! My family and I haven’t visited the Georgia Aquarium yet, but it is something that we look forward to doing someday.

  46. I have never been to the Georgia Aquarium but it looks like you guys had a great time. Your pictures are beautiful and now i definitely want to go.

  47. Penguins, dolphins and jellyfish are some of my absolute favourites so I would just love it here. Wish we lived closer so we could visit.

  48. I’ve never been, but our son had his field trip there when he was in the middle school. We’ve been to the National Aquarium in Baltimore though, and he also visited the Tennessee Aquarium when he was in 5th grade. Aquariums are such a fun place to visit for the family.

  49. Oh my! What a beautiful place to visit this Spring! My kids will surely love and enjoy this place.

  50. I have never been but I have a friend who lives right down from it. She said it’s amazing and I can’t wait to go!

  51. I cannot wait to take my kids to the Georgia Aquarium! What a fun time you had. My daughter loves penguins so she will want to spend a whole day with the penguins.

  52. I love going to the aquarium. This looks like so much fun too. I know where I’ll be going if I ever get to Georgia. These photos are stunning too!

  53. What an amazing trip! I love aquariums because the education is amazing and they are great for both kids and adults. Plus, it’s a great activity for rainy days or when it’s too hot or too cold. Thanks so much for sharing!

  54. I haven’t been to an aquarium since I was a child, but this one looks amazing! How cool to see all these ocean species up close.

  55. It cannot get any better than that! I love taking the kids to museums and aquariums when they were little and now that I’m a grandma, I would love to take the littles here. They’ll learn so much and be very amazed and entertained as well.

  56. You has me at dolphins. I love any place where there’s a dolphin show! The Indianapolis Zoo has an amazing one. This aquarium looks like a lot of fun.

  57. That otter picture is too cute omgoodness! We have fun visiting the aquarium here, but this one looks way cooler!

  58. Oh my goodness what an amazing looking aquarium. I have to admit I haven’t been to one for ages, but they really are such fascinating places.

  59. That place looks like it would be a fun place to visit. It’s been along time since I’ve been to Georgia. This place does not exist then but I have heard great things about it. I love the little penguins. They are adorable.

  60. I just love aquariums! To see sea life swimming around is an amazing experience. I love the aquariums where the sea life swims above you, for a full “underwater” experience! Who doesn’t LOVE penguins, otters and dolphins!

  61. We love the Georgia Aquarium. We go there as often as possible. it’s so much fun to explore and see all the creatures.

  62. I absolutely LOVE aquariums (although I’m against them keeping marine mammals). Visiting different aquariums around the world as I travel is one of my favorite things to do.