Jill Martin Wrenn recently moved to Atlanta after living in London for eight years. Her entertaining and insightful blog, Reverse Culture Shock,chronicles her adventures as she explores her new city and readjusts to American life.
The Georgia Aquarium is incredibly kid-friendly, but my husband and I enjoyed it too — and not just because it kept the kids quiet for more than an hour. It claims to be the biggest in the world. While we appreciated the size, we were even more impressed by the layout and the diversity of fish.
Unlike other aquariums I’ve visited, which often just showcase several different views of the same tank, this one has five unique galleries, each one hosting a range of sea life in various tanks. For us, the main event was Ocean Voyager, the Aquarium’s biggest exhibit. You actually feel like you’re going inside the tank, because you walk through a 100-ft.-long glass tunnel. It was fun to watch the kids jump as whale sharks (apparently, the world’s largest fish), hammerheads, stingrays and others swam towards them, then over them.
We also liked the exhibits with smaller, boutique-like tanks. The so-called Tropical Diver gallery had an almost romantic feel, with dim lighting outside a tank showcasing its colorful creatures. Our two-year-old was transfixed by the jellyfish (see below). They were floating alongside clownfish, which we recognized from Finding Nemo.
A similar-looking fish serves as the Aquarium’s mascot, Deepo, an orange garibaldi fish. Two volunteers helped our daughter color in a picture of Deepo on a paper plate attached to a popsicle stick, which she carried around proudly for about five minutes (not a bad run, if you’re familiar with the attention span of a two-year-old). The mascot’s name is a shout out to Home Depot, a major sponsor of the Aquarium. As for Deepo’s resemblance to Nemo, the Aquarium insists it came up with the idea first. The mascot’s name is a shout out to Home Depot, a major sponsor of the Aquarium.
A visit to the Georgia Aquarium is not cheap. An adult ticket costs $26.50, with children under 2 getting in free. Parking in downtown Atlanta costs about $10. And the café, while bright, clean, and child friendly (lots of high chairs and kids’ meals), did not offer any bargains either. So the Aquarium might not be something we do every weekend, but with more than eight million gallons of water, it will lure us back again.