The Georgia Aquarium opened in 2005 and has become the world’s largest aquarium in terms of size and the gallons held by the tanks. There are over 100,000 animals from 500 species in 10 million gallons of fresh and marine water. The over $300 million dollar project was supported by Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus.
What to See at the Georgia Aquarium
The aquarium is known for its whale sharks, beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, and manta rays. There are different exhibits featuring ecosystems from the region and the world. The Cold Water Quest showcases cold-water species from all over the world, including sea dragons, spider crabs, and beluga whales. Georgia Explorer showcases the state’s native species like horseshoe crabs, sea turtles, and shrimp.
Ocean Voyager is the most impressive, and largest, tank and showcases the larger fish like the whale shark, manta rays, and grouper. River Scout features the lovable otters, albino alligators, and even piranhas. The Tropical Diver displays exotic jellyfish, seahorses, and colorful fish swimming through the coral.
Unique Experiences at the Georgia Aquarium
The “Behind the Seas” tour at the aquarium takes visitors to the employees-only area including above the massive tanks. There are specific animal encounters if you want to see your favorite, including sharks and rays, dolphins, penguins, and seals.
If you have your diving permit, you can even go scuba diving in the tanks. The Gentle Giants experience puts you inside the Ocean Voyager tank with the whale sharks for swimming and diving. There’s also a new cage diving experience.
Tips for Visiting the Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium is located at 225 Baker Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30313. It’s open Sunday to Friday from 10 am to 5 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm. Tickets are $36.95 unless you’re an annual member. Members of the military get discounted entry on Mondays. Georgia residents get in free on their birthdays.
You can purchase additional activities like their behind-the-scenes tour or scuba diving with the whale sharks. Guests can also get combo tickets like the Atlanta CityPASS and Georgia residents gain free entry on their birthdays. Book your Georgia Aquarium Skip-the-Purchase-Line Tickets before you go.
Visitors can access the aquarium through the Peachtree Center MARTA Station before walking through Centennial Olympic Park. There’s an official parking deck at 357 Luckie Street and many other paid lots nearby. From the I-75 or I-85, take exit 249C for Williams Street or 248C for International Boulevard and follow the signs.
You can also see multiple places near Centennial Olympic Park in one afternoon, including the College Football Hall of Fame, the Children’s Museum, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the World of Coca-Cola.
Where to Eat Near the Georgia Aquarium
Cafe Aquaria is the Georgia Aquarium’s onsite cafe, serving salads, wraps, and hot dogs, including family meal deals. Keep in mind that it can get very busy on weekends.
The area around the Georgia Aquarium has quick-service chains like Chick-fil-a and Johnny Rockets. Other options include the Atlanta Breakfast Club, Kwan’s Deli and Korean Kitchen, and The Yard Milkshake Bar. If you don’t mind walking, the food courts at the CNN Center and Peachtree Center have many options.
Where to Stay Near the Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium has partnerships with 17 local hotels, allowing visitors to bundle their experiences into one price. They include the Loews Atlanta Hotel (review here), The Ellis Hotel, and the Reverb Hotel by Hard Rock Downtown Atlanta.
The Embassy Suites Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park is convenient to all of the attractions of Centennial Olympic Park. All rooms are suites, which is great for families, and they have perks like complimentary daily breakfast and afternoon social hour.
The Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center is another option, located across the street from the CNN Center’s large food court. The hotel has an in-house restaurant, a fitness center, and comfortable rooms. Both are also included in the aquarium’s rates.