SMART TIPS FOR VISITING THE GEORGIA AQUARIUM
From sea lions, penguins, and frolicking dolphins to an incredible variety of freshwater and saltwater fish, there’s no better way to introduce curious kids to aquatic life than the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia.
This accredited facility boasts a mind-boggling number of tanks, learning opportunities, and programs designed with children in mind. That means it’s the perfect place for young future marine biologists to spend an afternoon they’ll remember for a lifetime. Considering taking your family to this world-class aquatic destination? Here’s what you’ll need to know before you go:
- Spend time inside, not waiting in line. With school groups and tourists waiting to get into this huge aquarium, you could find yourself stuck outside in the Atlanta heat in a very long line. Skipping this less-than-exciting aspect of the visit is easy, though – just buy your tickets and parking pass online ahead of time. Not only will you save a few dollars for souvenirs in the gift shop, but you’ll also be able to stroll right in to the air-conditioned goodness of the aquarium. Be aware that buying your parking ahead of time means a once in-once out vehicle policy is in place; you won’t be able to leave mid-afternoon and return later on the same parking pass.
- Browse showtimes and behind-the-scenes tour options before arrival. While admission to the aquarium shows are a mix of free and paid, animal encounters always carry an additional charge. With a slew of positive reviews, however, these encounters aren’t your average upsell fare: not only will your littlest family members get a chance to directly interact with the animal(s) in the encounter, they’ll also get a souvenir photo to remember the experience.
- Don’t miss special aquarium events. Throughout the year, the aquarium hosts a variety of special events, both during operating hours and before and after the facility opens. While parents may want to try some tranquil yoga outside the dolphin tanks to greet the day, their children are sure to appreciate age-appropriate events like thepopular “Toddler Time” series, with themed afternoons each month. A full calendar of aquarium events and event ticket purchasing is always available on the website.
- Get lunch just before visiting. Snacks and drinks aren’t allowed in the aquarium, so if your children are prone to “hangry” behavior, make sure to fuel up before the 3 to 4 hours it will take to get through the aquarium. Head to a nearby restaurant, or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the first-come-first-serve patio seating outside the aquarium. There is a cafeteria inside the aquarium, but visitors report the prices can be a little high, and the wait can be a bit long as well.
There’s a lot to see inside the aquarium – the 100,000+ creature count isn’t an exaggeration. Expect to spend anywhere from 3 to 4 hours if you’re trying to see the entire facility, and plan to arrive as early or late in the day as possible to avoid large crowds. A rewarding, educational, and incredibly fun experience for visitors of all ages, families with children routinely rave about the aquarium: it’s definitely worth a day trip if you’re visiting the Atlanta area.
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