Atlanta is home to the world’s largets Aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium, which opened Nov. 23, 2005. Offering more than half a million square feet, covering 9 Â½ acres and adjacent to the Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA, is home to 100,000 animals including 500 species around the world. The Georgia Aquarium holds a total of 8 million gallons of fresh and marina water, and also features 60 habitats including 12,000 square feet of viewing windows, topping a total of 328 tons of acrylic.
The largest tank displayed at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta measures 263 feet long x 126 feet wide x 33 feet deep at the maximum depth, holding 6.2 million gallons of water and housing four whale sharks along withÂ about 10,000 animals. The second largest tank at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA, holds 800,000 gallons of water and is home toÂ four beluga whales. Other features at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta include the 4-D theater, the Learning Loop and the world-class veterinary servicesÂ and conservation medicine facility.
The Georgia Aquarium is broken up into sections, Georgia Explorer, River Scout, Cold Water Quest, Ocean Voyager and Tropical Diver.
Georgia Explorer is often where most visitors start off with the first exhibit being the touch pool with rays and sharks. The kids love to get a chance to touch the animals. Just remember, two fingers only. Inside the Georgia Explorer there are many other touch pools including shrimp and horseshoe crabs. Kids always love turtles and enjoy seeing the loggerhead turtle. The exhibit also features a play area for the kids including a large slide.
River Scout is very well done. You get a chance to see fish from all sorts of angles. There are places where the kids can crawl and get up close and personal, there are tanks that are in the ceiling which also give you different perspective. The river otters, however, are always a crowd pleaser.
Cold Water Quest features animals from cold climates around the world, but there are definitely some favorites here. First of all the beluga whales. They are just mesmerizing to watch. Not sure what it is, but people are fascinated watching these ghost like creatures of the ocean. They seem to connect with the visitors and have fun. The sea lions are also great to watch along with the sea otters next to them. You never know what these animals are going to do, but it doesn’t matter how many times we visit, they’re still some of our favorites. You’ll also want to check out the penguins and crawl up into the exhibit for a unique view at these little critters.
Ocean Voyager is certainly how Georgia Aquarium wanted to differentiate itself. The Ocean Voyager is the largest tank and home to an amazing amount of sea life, including four whale sharks, giant grouper, squadrons of small and large stingrays, hammerhead sharks and much, much more. Within the Ocean Voyager, you can walk through a 100-foot long tunnel as the aquatic life swims all around you and then the large viewing room is absolutely breathtaking. The viewing window in this room is 23 feet tall by 61 feet wide and is 2 feet thick.
Sit up close to the window on the floor or relax on the theater style steps and just relax for awhile and enjoy the interactions amongst the sea life. No other aquarium in the world has ever attempted to manage the variety and size of fish in this major exhibit.
Tropical Diver is your final exhibit and well worth your time. The garden eels are a treat to watch as they pop up and out of the sand, the kids love the jellyfish, the clownfish, otherwise forever known as Nemo, and the living reef exhibit. Living corals and thousands of colorful reef fish are presented in a faithful recreation of a tropical Pacific coral reef, complete with an overhead crashing wave.
You’ll also want to check out the 4-D theater on your visit. And don’t worry about the munchies. The cafe at the exhibit is without a doubt one of the best places to eat of any tourist attraction in metro Atlanta. No worry about overpaying for bad food. They have a great selection of food and a good selection of healthy choices as well. And you get a 10% discount if you’re an Annual Pass Holder.
The gift shop is the place to pick up your souvenirs as well as educational materials on oceans and aquatic life. Don’t worry about missing it though. It’s the only way out of the aquarium, you have to walk through the gift shop to exit.
The aquarium is also a great spot for corporate events and parties. The aquarium ballroom has viewing windows into the exhibits as well and provides a unique atmosphere for your next company outing. Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC) operates exclusive special event catering services at the Aquarium for ten or ten thousand. While the fish entertain the guests, Wolfgang Puck Catering brings innovative cuisine made with the freshest ingredients.
To make your trip as unforgettable as possible, here are a couple tips. Parking is provided at the Georgia Aquarium at the corner of Luckie Street and Baker Street. You’ll want to check out the hours of operation prior to your trip as their hours do change between the summer months and the rest of the year. Reserve your tickets well in advance. With over 6 million visitors in less than two years, the Georgia Aquarium is certainly a popular attraction. While the aquarium does a great job of managing the amount of people in the facility, it’s always best to come early. The less crowded, the higher level of enjoyment particularly for the little ones to be able to see all the exhibits and the parents to not stress out about losing their kids. My final tip is to download the audio tours from the Georgia Aquarium website to your iPod. There are audio tours for all the exhibits and the kids love getting more information on all the animals as they walk through the exhibits.
For those living in Smyrna Vinings, the Georgia Aquarium is a an easy place to vist. Either head down Atlanta Road or take I-75.Â That’s it. Go have fun and enjoy the Georgia Aquarium.