We have been to the Georgia Aquarium several times (mostly when the boys were smaller), but I realize I have never written a newspaper column or blog post about this amazing aquarium. It used to be the largest aquarium in the world until it was surpassed by an aquarium built in Singapore in 2012. Go there and you can gaze at beluga whales, whale sharks, manta rays, and literally hundreds of amazing smaller species too. We were quite thrilled to get to see their newest exhibit of marine birds, including puffins, on our recent visit, which was on my 9-year-old’s birthday.
I’m not going into detail about what the aquarium has for you to see and do because you can find out about that on their website. Instead, I’m going to babble on about the cost because, geez, this is a very expensive place to visit. ($36 general admission for adults. $30 for kids. And don’t forget parking and food.) That’s why we rarely go. When the boys were small and my eldest son was obsessed with ocean animals, we went a few times. But it was cheaper back then, and I remember finding coupons that allowed us to get in for $15 per adult — they don’t offer those anymore. (Though they do offer various discounts on their website.)
I have mixed feelings about the expense. I mean, on one hand, it’s too expensive for many families who can’t pay that much to get two adults and their kids into the aquarium. On the other hand, the cost to run that place must be enormous, and I know they are doing all kinds of good research and conservation efforts. So once in a while, we splurge on it.
At least the general admission includes the dolphin show now. It used to not. And the dolphin show is much, much better than it used to be. It’s not cheesy, and it’s more educational. Instead of actors and singers, the real dolphin trainers run the show.
My youngest son just turned nine, and it was his request to visit an aquarium on his birthday. (And you can get in free on your birthday, so there’s that.) We were going to take him to the Tennessee Aquarium because, to be honest, we like it even more than the Georgia Aquarium, and we have only been there once (on my eldest son’s ninth birthday). However, there were severe thunderstorms predicted on his birthday, so we didn’t think it would be wise to drive so far. To make up for that, we purchased two tickets to a dolphin encounter at the Georgia Aquarium. It ended up being a good decision, and I’m the lucky one who got to meet the dolphin with him. (I fulfilled a childhood dream!) It was amazing, and I’m so glad we did it.
If you go, I hope you can go during the week. Saturdays are chaos. I am not joking when I say it’s shoulder to shoulder people, and it’s hard to see any of the exhibits at that point. Also be sure to purchase tickets in advance online, or you’ll be standing in an extremely long line. My son’s birthday happened to be on a Saturday this year, but we got there right when it opened. For an hour or so, it wasn’t too bad. But man, the people came quick. Please go during the week, especially if you’re an introvert. 😉