Georgia Aquarium: Atlanta’s Beloved Attraction That Lives up to the Hype

The Georgia Aquarium houses 8 million gallons of fresh and marine water and more than 100,000 animals including four whale sharks, the largest fish on the planet. It consistently ranks as the best attraction in the state, but is it really worthy of all the accolades?

Georgia Aquarium: Atlanta's Beloved Attraction That Lives up to the Hype

TL;DR – Absolutely! 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!

The Aquarium is open again in 2020. Tickets are based on timed entry, and online purchases are highly recommended. Attendance is limited, and masks are required for guests. Temperature screening happens before you enter the building.

Here is our list of MUST SEE AND DO adventures for your visit.

Want to visit, but not sure how Downtown Atlanta and the attractions are handling COVID? We went recently and thought they were doing a magnificent job. Read all about it here: Why you should visit Atlanta NOW.

Sharks! Predators of the Deep

The aquarium’s newest gallery for 2020 is “fin-ally” open!! This thrilling shark exhibit houses 1.2 million gallons of water and is one of the largest and most dynamic shark galleries in North America. Here you’ll find hammerheads, sand tiger sharks, and more! 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? Suit up and get in the water with some of the sharks and rays in this newest animal interaction. It’s limited to four people and masks are required. Ticket’s are under $99 each.

If you ask me, the real fun begins Jan 1, when you can schedule a cage dive immersion into the shark gallery!! You don’t have to dive-certified for this…but you do have to be 12 years old (or older.)

The educational experience and the immersion together last about 2-2.5 hours and you receive a digital photo of the experience. Prices start at $190.

Dolphin Presentations

As part of their phased approach to opening, a newly-visioned dolphin presentation is running for guests.

You’ll see a 15-minute show in the dolphin theatre, where you get to see the trainers in action. And of course, if you’re in the SPLASH zone, you just may get doused with water.

The dolphin presentation is included at no extra cost with your general admission ticket, but you will need to reserve seats at the info kiosk or via your phone.  When you reserve them, consider purchasing preferred seats for $5 each so you can spend more time exploring the aquarium and not standing in line. (PS. These seats are NOT in the splash zone.)

Under the Boardwalk

The sea lion show, Under the Boardwalk, is not yet open again. If you are aching to see the adorable sea lions, then try the Sea Lion Up Close experience.

For under $20 per person you get a special session to interact with these charismatic animals, including a 15 minute session where you’ll learn more about the animals, watch a training session, and get a socially distant selfie with a sea lion.

We love this great video from We3Travel!

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 through 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 seems overwhelming. Try Oceans Food Market. It’s 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.

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 the aquarium is home to – 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 pirhana, albino alligators and other freshwater creatures.

See whale sharks, manta rays and other great species in Ocean Voyager, built to hold 6.3 million gallons of salt water!

Tropical Diver is home to clown fish, jelly fish, sea horses and other beautiful and bright creatures.

Enhance Your Visit to Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium App lets you explore the exhibits while you are visiting. 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. Our 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.

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.

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.

Don’t want to party here? Georgia residents receive FREE admission on their birthday.

Visit during Military Mondays. Active duty members get in for free, and retired and former members receive a 10% discount.

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 the Aquarium after hours. You’ll have the entire Aquarium to yourself while enjoying cocktails, tapas and entertainment… all without kids!

Super Special Adventure at Georgia Aquarium 

Have your all-inclusive Birthday Party at the world’s largest aquarium.

Families will adore a Sleepover Adventure at the aquarium. See dates for family sleepovers (7yo and older,) adult-only sleepover events and scouting slumber parties.

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.

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!

Join over 1500 others who have become a Volunteer at Georgia Aquarium.


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