The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA houses more than 11 million gallons of fresh and marine water, and it’s home to more than 100,000 animals — including four whale sharks, the largest fish on the planet!
The aquarium consistently ranks as the best attraction in the state, but is it really worthy of all the accolades? The answer is…
Whether you’re a local or a visitor to Atlanta, make a plan to spend the day visiting one of the largest (and best) aquariums in the world! Here is our list of must see and do adventures for your visit to the aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia.
Buy skip-the-line tickets here and spend MORE time inside with the whales and sharks!
SHARKS! PREDATORS OF THE DEEP
Georgia Aquarium’s newest gallery is Sharks! Predators of the Deep. This exciting shark exhibit houses 1.2 million gallons of water and is one of the largest shark galleries in North America. Here you’ll find the Great hammerhead shark, sand tiger shark, silvertip shark, and tiger shark! With its state-of-the-art, floor-to-ceiling acrylic viewing windows, this gallery offers excellent visual access to the mysterious underwater world of sharks!
Want to get up close with these beasts? You can actually get in the water with some of the sharks and rays in this gallery, with the extra purchase of a Shark & Ray Interaction ticket. For the interaction, you’ll get to put on a wetsuit, learn more about the animals, and even get up close and personal with some of them. How cool is that?! The interaction an extra cost, and the experience is limited to four people
If you ask me, the real fun begins if you can schedule a Shark Cave Dive into the shark gallery! You don’t have to dive certified for this, but you do have to be at least 12 years old. Guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a participating adult.
For the Shark Cave Dive experience, you’ll put on a wetsuit and mask before entering the cage. Then you and the group will be lowered into the water, and sharks will be swimming all around you! It’s such an amazing and unique way to see these animals, and the memories you make will last forever.
Photos are taken during the special animal encounters. Visit the kiosks (on the way out of the aquarium), where you can view and print your pictures immediately.
Want to experience everything the Georgia Aquarium has to offer? Try some of these fun adventures!
- Get Your Georgia Aquarium Skip-The-Line Tickets. Enjoy skip-the-purchase-line tickets to the Georgia Aquarium, which has an interactive 4D theater and 7 different areas containing more than 10 million gallons of water and thousands of sea creatures.
- Take A Virtual Tour Of Ocean Voyager. Experience the thrill of the Georgia Aquarium from the comfort of your home with this virtual tour of the Ocean Voyager area.
- See The Otters From Home. Experience the thrill of Georgia Aquarium from the comfort of your own home with this virtual tour of the Cold Water Quest section at the Georgia Aquarium.
While at the aquarium, make plans to cruise on over to the Dolphin Coast gallery. Known for their agility and playful social behavior, you won’t want to miss the pod of bottlenose dolphins found here.
Dolphins In Depth, the 15-minute dolphin presentation in the theater, is a must-see! During the show, you’ll get to the dolphins in action, and learn more about these amazing animals from their trainers.
The dolphin presentation happens several times during the day, and admission to the show is included with your general admission ticket. Seats are first come, first serve — although you can pay an extra fee for preferred seating. To see the show right now, you must reserve seats at the info kiosk on the day of your visit to allow for social distancing.
If you’re feeling brave, you can pick a seat in the SPLASH Zone — where the chances of you getting splashed by the playful dolphins is high! (My kids and I picked a seat here once — and we got drenched!! The kids LOVED it!) Just a note — the preferred seating seats are NOT in the Splash Zone.
UNDER THE BOARDWALK
Dive into the world of California Sea Lions at Truist Park Pier 225! You can’t help falling in love with these sea lions.
Just like the dolphins, the sea lions here have their own presentation called Under the Boardwalk. During the 30-minute show, you’ll be able to see the sea lions show off their moves, and watch as the trainers work with them. You’ll learn more about the dangers sea lions face in their natural environment, and about the environmental factors that impact them.
Just like the dolphin presentation, the sea lion presentation is included with your general admission ticket, but reservations need to be made the day of your visit. Seating here is first come, first serve — and there is a SPLASH Zone if you want to get wet!
While waiting for the presentation, kids and adults alike will love the interactive pinniped sea lion arcade games and photo kiosk.
Want to get up close and personal with the sea lions? Try the Sea Lion Encounter. Over the course of approximately 30 minutes, you’ll enjoy an exclusive tour of the California sea lion facility, a special educational presentation on the sea lions, then participate in an exciting sea lion training session alongside Georgia Aquarium’s own animal trainers. How fun!
Guests must be at least 7 years old to participate, and those under 18 must be accompanied by a participating adult.
See whale sharks, manta rays, and other incredible species in Ocean Voyager, built by Home Depot, which holds 6.3 million gallons of salt water. Walk through a 100-foot-long underwater tunnel and see more than 50 species of aquatic animals.
This exhibit was specially designed to house whale sharks, the largest fish species in the world. Schools of predatory trevally jacks, squadrons of small and large stingrays, enormous goliath grouper and several sharks all ply the waters of this ocean habitat.
Ocean Voyager is one gallery that cannot be missed!
MORE THINGS TO DO WHILE YOU’RE THERE
- Make your fun-filled adventure a learning experience as well with this fun Scavenger Hunt.
- Don’t miss the tunnels and nooks located throughout the aquarium. We love romping though the penguin tunnel, and watching the piranha at the “secret” peep hole behind their aquarium.
- Sometimes the line at the main dining hall can seem overwhelming. If that happens, try the Oceans Food Market. The market is a pop-up food court that offers new dining options, providing a fast and easy alternative to Cafe Aquaria, located on the Level 2 rotunda. Both are currently open for grabbing a snack or Coca-Cola.
- While eating lunch, skip the tables on the first floor and head to the Oceans Ballroom on the second floor, where you can dine with the beluga whales. You may not find it open on slow days or during special events, but it’s so amazing to eat lunch in there while watching the belugas! It’s definitely worth checking out.
- Aquanaut Adventure is a great kiddo gallery at the aquarium, where kids can learn more about aquatic life while completing a series of entertaining challenges. They can immerse themselves in information about all the animals in the aquarium, and they won’t even know they are learning because it’s so much fun!
- Cold Water Quest gallery lets you see sea otters, penguins, beluga whales and more.
- River Scout gallery is where you will come face-to-face with piranha, albino alligators, and other freshwater creatures.
- Tropical Diver is home to clown fish, jellyfish, sea horses, and other beautiful and bright creatures.
ENHANCE YOUR VISIT TO THE GEORGIA AQUARIUM
- The Georgia Aquarium App helps you plan and navigate the aquarium. Forget to download it at home? No worries – the fish provide FREE WiFi.
- Go Behind the Seas to see a whale shark feeding and more. The Georgia Aquarium is the only place outside of China with whale sharks, and the only place in the world you are guaranteed to interact with them while diving.
- See a penguin waddling by! Trainers will lead several African penguins on a stroll across the aquarium’s Main Atrium during the daily Waddle Walk. (Note: This has been temporarily suspended.)
- If you love visiting the aquarium, then consider an Annual Family Membership. It is basically paid for within two visits if you have 2 adults and 2 children. It also gives you two additional tickets and other perks and savings opportunities.
- Dive into an immersive theater experience in the 4D Theater. Included with general admission, guests can enjoy a high-quality 4D high definition projection and special effects. Be prepared for things like bubbles, the smell of salt water, and splashes of water! Currently, reservations must be made the day of your visit.
GEORGIA AQUARIUM DISCOUNT TICKETS
- Georgia Aquarium is within walking distance of many other attractions and part of Atlanta CityPASS, which allows you to save up to 43% off regular ticket prices. AND…it’s even great for locals, because you now have up to 30 days to use the tickets. See more info here about CityPASS.
- Did you know? Georgia residents receive FREE admission on their birthday!
- Visit during Military Mondays. The aquarium provides free admission to all current and former members of the United States Armed Forces on select Mondays throughout the year. Check HERE for details and dates.
- Visiting from out of town? Look into a package deal with participating hotels. These Hotel Packages offer admission tickets that let you bypass the ticket line.
PLAN-AHEAD FUN AT GEORGIA AQUARIUM
- Sips Under the Sea is a unique cocktail party for adults, allowing you to explore the aquarium after hours. You’ll have the entire aquarium to yourself while enjoying cocktails, tapas, and entertainment…all without kids!
- Looking for something for the kids to do during the summer? Camp H20 is sure to be a memorable experience!
- Parking is generally not bad, we park at the Centennial Olympic Park Deck across the street. You can also park in the aquarium’s parking garage.
SUPER SPECIAL ADVENTURES AT GEORGIA AQUARIUM
- Have your all-inclusive Birthday Party at the world’s largest aquarium.
- Families will adore a Sleepover Adventure at the aquarium. They have dates for family sleepovers (7 years old and older), adult-only sleepover events, and scouting slumber parties.
Read More: A GEORGIA AQUARIUM SLEEPOVER: 16 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Journey with Gentle Giants is the only opportunity in the world where you are guaranteed to swim with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world. Swim at the surface with a snorkel or air-compression device.
Read More: Why Georgia Aquarium Is The Best Place To Swim With Whale Sharks
- Meet, touch and feed a dolphin. The Dolphin Encounter is a fun hands-on poolside experience.
- Get up close and personal with a penguin at the Penguin Encounter, learning how they are cared for and conserved.
- Head backstage for the Sea Otter Encounter where you will tour their facility and interact with these gentle beasts. You’ll even get a photo! (Note: This interaction is currently suspended.)
Read More: MEETING THE GEORGIA AQUARIUM OTTERS CAN’T BE MISSED (+ OTHER FUN ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS!)
- Join over 1500 others who have become a Volunteer at Georgia Aquarium.
THINGS TO DO IN ATLANTA (printable)
Download this 1-page checklist of Things to Do in Atlanta to print at home or your local print shop. Perfect to keep in a binder, bring on your adventure or just put on the refrigerator!
(PS. This entire list is detailed in our article, 53+ Things To Do in Atlanta You Should Not Miss (From Locals in the Know).)
Format: PDF, US Letter Size, Portrait (8.5”x11”)
You will receive one PDF file. File will be emailed and available for download up to three times upon payment. No physical item will be shipped.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR AQUARIUM VISIT
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- GEORGIA AQUARIUM SLEEPOVER: 16 Important Things You Should Know
- HOTELS: Hotels Near Atlanta Aquarium: 7+ Best Places to Stay Near Georgia Aquarium
- INTIMATE ENCOUNTERS: Shake Hands With The Otters And Other Animal Encounters
- MORE ATLANTA: 53+ Things To Do In Atlanta
WHERE TO STAY NEAR GEORGIA AQUARIUM
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