Family Travels: The Georgia Aquarium

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A few weeks ago for the wife’s birthday we decided to take a trip. We wanted to go somewhere the kids would enjoy, but more importantly, somewhere that wouldn’t make us have to rearrange our spending habits for the next few months like Disney is known to do.

So we took a little 5 hour drive to Atlanta where we visited the Georgia Aquarium!

It was a first time for me on a few fronts. I never stayed in Atlanta before and the aquarium was also new to me. The kids didn’t know what they were in for till we got there so the anticipation was immense.

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We left the hotel in hopes of grabbing a quick breakfast before getting there. And that’s when the tourist in us came out…

If I were tell you downtown Atlanta was barren of fast food restaurants you could just drive up to and order a chicken biscuit from, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Heck, I wouldn’t believe me. But that’s what we encountered. I’m not sure if the GPS was just in a bad mood or what, but we would search for a McD’s (because we’re terrible parents and that’s what the kids like) and it would take us on a 10 minute tour of the city before getting there. “Your destination is on the right.” …I kid you not, our “destination was on the right/left” about 7 times and each time there was nothing but office buildings. My guess is these were McD’s in the buildings? I dunno. I DO know, we gave up and considered a gamble on a local place.

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Note: This was not the local place.

 

We searched, found good reviews, and took another 10 minute tour. Where we wound up was a sit down breakfast joint specializing in biscuits. Great, right? Except it was about the size of my walk-in closet. On top of that, it was packed to the brim with people sitting and coming in and out. Taking a now hungry and PO’ed toddler in there would’ve made for quite the story, but it’s one I was not ready to document just yet.

So we drove outside the city to finally find a street that was lined with fast food joints. I cannot begin to describe the pure joy I never thought I’d experience by seeing those golden arches. The thought of finally getting our day started after more than an hour of driving around downtown Atlanta and getting hungry kids fed was enough for me to go back to the hotel a happy camper. But there was still the aquarium!

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Notice the rather large shadow on the top left..

We got there and quickly realized what we had done. The common, rookie mistake of trying to take a toddler somewhere when they haven’t slept right. I swear, you’d think we just rented him out for the day or something. Although, it’s not completely our fault. The only way we could’ve made it was driving till 3 in the morning, so we were all tired at the start of this fun filled day.

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But we didn’t let something like a lack of sleep stop us! From the minute we walked in we didn’t hesitate to start exploring.

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Seb has been to an aquarium before, but Lucas.. This was a whole new experience for him.

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Can you imagine? Experiencing an aquarium for the first time and having no idea what it was? At first you would think a kid would freak out, but he loved it beyond explanation.

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He loved it almost too much because it was a downright fight to get him away from any glass he could press his face up to.

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Still though, it was worth that fight because seeing his excitement every time he saw something new erased the dramatic, baby-meltdown that just happened minutes before.

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Seb loved it just as much. It was a surprise trip for him so he was insanely excited when he figured it out.

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He’s reaching the end of an Octonauts kick, but I’m sure this prolonged it a little more.

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His favorite were the jelly fish and for good reason. I don’t know what it is, but Seb and I could watch jelly fish bopping around all day.

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Not to mention take pictures of them all day!

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I loooooove taking pictures of jelly fish. Can you tell?

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And then when the pictures gif themselves? Super bonus!

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A big (pun intended) reason to visit this aquarium is for 2 massive Whale Sharks! It’s actually the only place outside of Asia where you can see Whale Sharks like this.

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They were imported from Taiwan via air, boat, and truck! And before you start going all crazy on me, the aquarium actually saved the Whale Sharks from death. They would’ve been killed and eaten thanks to Taiwan’s annual fishing kill quota if the aquarium didn’t buy them and have them transported. So good on them! Since 2008, Taiwanese officials have banned the fishing, capture, and exporting of Whale Sharks. So this is not going to be something to expect from other aquariums. Even with their size, they look like they have a good space in the 6.3 million gallon tank. It’s no wonder why the Georgia Aquarium was the world’s largest aquarium when it opened back in 2005.

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I tried to get a good picture but they weren’t swimming too close to the tunnel. Still though, no picture can do it justice. I can’t even describe how huge they are. Definitely worth the trip if you are an admirer and lover of the ocean and the life it possesses.

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Another first for aquariums are the Manta Rays. The first Manta Ray for display in an aquarium was here in Georgia in 2008, when it was accidentally caught in a shark net. The Georgia Aquarium is one of the 4 places you can visit in the world where you can see a Manta Ray.

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There are six different exhibits you can walk through and explore here and all of which will leave you satisfied. With a broad range of animals ranging from cuttlefish to penguins, and from seadragons to whale sharks, you won’t leave this place disappointed!

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Sadly, mainly due to Lucas and his refusal to take a nap (who would want to nap there?!) we decided to call it a day after we saw everything. It’s an amazing aquarium and I wish we lived closer because it’s definitely the type of place you get a yearly pass to. But after 4 or so hours with a cranky kid, we were ready to go. And sure enough, not 5 minutes after sitting in his car seat, Lucas was out like a light.

Oh yeah. And when we left the aquarium, we turned the opposite way we went in the morning, and what did we see? A freaking McD’s across the street! I wanted to throw something at it but I was too tired.

On the way to the hotel the wife kiddingly asked if I wanted to go home that day instead of the next morning like we planned. I looked at my watch, figured we’d get there by 11, and said heck yeah! We had a little issue with the hotel that I won’t describe here, so they let us skip out of our 2nd night with no fees. We packed up and jumped in the car to head to where the Buffalo roam.

I was tired, but the adrenalin of knowing we get to sleep in our own bed that night was enough to get me through. Oh, and singing Disney and Broadway tunes in the car. That helps me get through, too.

It was a great trip. Everyone will remember it, I’m sure. And it’s good to know it’s not too far of a drive. Maybe one day we’ll go back to just let Lucas and Seb sit in front of the glass for hours. I’m pretty sure that’s something they’ll both be totally ok with.

 

If you’re interested in anything to do with the Georgia Aquarium, you can check out their site, http://www.georgiaaquarium.org, where they have tons of info and content.

If you want to know the details behind all six of their exhibits and what they house, go ahead and click right here. If you’re interested in purchasing tickets, you can do so here. If you’re a fan of live webcams, they have a few of those too! A live webcam of Ocean Voyager, the 6.3 million gallon tank home to Whale Sharks and Manta Rays, can be viewed here. 

And for the record, this isn’t a sponsored post. We had a great time and I just felt like blogging about it! Let me know if you’ve ever been or if you plan on going!

 

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