Behind the Scenes Family Fun at the Georgia Aquarium

Disclosure: The Georgia Aquarium provided me with two free tickets as well as one night hotel accommodations at the Hilton Garden Suite in exchange for my honest review.

Atlanta is one of our favorite family road trip destinations. Just a four-hour drive from Nashville, it’s the perfect distance to get away, without exceeding the “Are we there yet?” limit.

With big city Southern sophisticated dining, shopping, and entertainment experiences for mom and dad, as well as tons of family friendly activities, it’s perfect for a weekend getaway.

The Georgia Aquarium, located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, is one of the world’s largest aquariums and one of our favorite must attractions in the city.

We ended our recent spring break staycation with a surprise trip to Atlanta. My older daughter was out of town, so my 9-year-old Miss A and I hit the road and spent a recent Saturday at the Georgia Aquarium. Part of our day at the aquarium included an amazing behind the scenes tour, offered as an add-on to regular admission for ages 10 and over. As part of this special hour tour, visitors get to visit the top of the Ocean Voyager exhibit to view feedings as well as tour the facilities that keep the aquarium running. Lucky for us we were also able to see new baby penguins as well as the aquarium’s “kitchen” featuring the largest walk-in freezer filled with restaurant quality seafood I’ve ever seen. The residents of the Georgia Aquarium eat very well!


The Georgia Aquarium features five primary exhibitions:

  • Cold Water Quest

  • River Scout

  • Georgia Explorer

  • Ocean Voyager

  • Tropical Diver

It’s difficult to choose which one is our favorite, but my 9-year-old really gravitated toward Cold Water Quest (she absolutely LOVED the sea otters and wanted to “visit” them twice) and I think the sea otters love their adoring fans as they put on quite a show.

You can easily spend an entire day at the Georgia Aquarium. I’d suggest purchasing your tickets in advance online and arriving when the doors open. Plan to stay most of the day, breaking it up with performances and lunch. Also note that the aquarium sometimes has extended hours, such as during spring break.

There are so many great things to see and explore at Georgia Aquarium. This was our second visit and I’m sharing some of our kid-friendly favorites.

Georgia Aquarium Must Dos Kids

10 Must Dos for Kids at Georgia Aquarium

  1. Touch a ray at the touch pool located at the entrance of the Georgia Explorer exhibit

  2. See the amazing acrobatic talent of the performing dolphins in Dolphin Tales

  3. Watch Deepo’s Undersea 3D Wondershow

  4. Observe divers feeding the fish

  5. Book an Animal Encounter experience (the aquarium features three: Dolphin Encounter, See Otter Encounter, and Penguin Encounter)

  6. Get a sneak peek at the amazing care and feeding that keeps the aquarium creatures healthy and happy by booking a one-hour Behind the Scenes Tour

  7. Have lunch at the Cafe Aquaria Food Court

  8. Explore the fun indoor playground in the Georgia Explorer exhibition

  9. Walk through the incredible clear aquarium tunnel in Ocean Voyager (this exhibit alone contains 6,300,000 gallons water) and get a glimpse at what it’s like to be surrounded by thousands of fish, plus spot the gentle giants, whale sharks and mantas.

  10. Have a caricature artist sketch your likeness for a unique souvenir. My daughter loved hers!

The Georgia Aquarium also features AT&T Dolphin Tales, an amazing performance featuring live actors, special effects, a musical score, and performing dolphins. It’s kind of a mix between Broadway and the Rockettes, but with sea creatures.

One of the coolest experiences at the aquarium, however, involves what you don’t see. Offering Behind the Scenes Tours for visitors, ages 10 and up, the Georgia Aquarium does a great job of educating the public on marine life. During our Behind the Scenes Tour I was impressed to learn that 25% of the Georgia Aquarium building (which opened in 2005) is earmarked for education. Besides the usual tours and day visits, the aquarium also offers camps, overnight experiences, and other special events highlighting education and awareness.

During our weekend stay we had overnight accommodations at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn which was literally just steps away from the aquarium’s entrance. Although we travel quite a bit, this was actually our first time staying at a Hilton Garden Inn property and we loved it. The outdoor heated pool was my 9-year-old’s favorite amenity, but a close second was the indoor heated pool. I also appreciated the indoor gym and being able to walk on the treadmill while keeping an eye on her in the pool. We both loved dining downstairs at Legal Seafood and my daughter had her first ever Shirley Temple. We will definitely rebook the Hilton Garden Inn the next time we are in Atlanta.

Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta View

Our fantastic view of the Atlanta skyline from our spacious and comfy room at the Hilton Garden Suite. You can see the SkyView Ferris Wheel in the distance (which was gorgeously lit at night!)

Some of the perqs I loved, besides a spacious room and bathroom, were the Neutrogena brand toiletries and the Keurig coffee maker. The Georgia Aquarium Package offered by the downtown Atlanta Hilton Garden Inn includes two tickets to the aquarium as well as free breakfast, which was also a fantastic buffet. The downtown Atlanta Hilton Garden Inn is also within walking distance to the World of Coca Cola.

Looking for a fun getaway this summer? If you haven’t visited the Georgia Aquarium, it’s perfect for families and kids of all ages. Be sure to visit the official Georgia Aquarium Plan Your Visit guide!

Here’s a fun update Georgia Aquarium would like to share with my Southern readers:

Southern Hospitality Discount- Save $6 on Total Tickets!!

Hey neighbors! Georgia Aquarium is showing our southern hospitality to our neighbors in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida. We invite you to visit us for just $29.95 +tax for an adult Total Ticket this spring, until June 13, 2014. That’s a nearly 17% savings on our regular price ticket.

Just show your valid ID from one of the states listed above at our ticketing window and tell our guest services representative that you want the Southern Hospitality Discount. Not available for purchase online, as you must show your ID to receive this special pricing.

Category: Product #: Regular price:$ (Sale ends ) Available from: Condition: Good ! Order now!
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I'm Jamie, a 45-year-old Nashville mom desperately seeking a few moments of Zen and zinfandel between soccer practice and supper. I love to travel, find great deals, and talk with my hands. My husband and I have two daughters, two dogs, and too much laundry. Email me at blondemomblog @


  1. Allison Tesnar says:

    We really want to see the baby penguins!!

  2. I follow BlondeMomblog on Instagram and we would like to see Ocean Voyager section.

  3. patricia says:

    My son would love the Dolphin Tales show. I showed him the exhibit’s promotional video, and he was fascinated.

    I follow blondemomblog on Twitter (@crunchycolletti) and just posted a tweet about this giveaway.

  4. We love watching the sea otters, my is call them kitten fish.

  5. The dolphins!

  6. I follow on Twitter

  7. My daughter wants to see the whale sharks so bad! Ocean Voyager would be our first stop

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I follow you on twitter & instagram and i “liked” you on facebook :) My daughters would love to see the penguins!!

  9. We want to see the pettable stingrays.

  10. Really amazing article , thank you

  11. Jennifer Haendel says:

    Mmmm. Hard to pick just one but likely … Cold Water Quest!

  12. Jennifer Haendel says:

    I DO follow BlondeMom Blog on Twitter!

  13. Jennifer Haendel says:

    I follow BlondeMomBlog on InstagrM, too!

  14. Jennifer Haendel says:

    Also? Facebook. BlondeMomBlog is a FB Like of mine.

  15. anna pry says:

    my daughters would be so excited to see the dolphin exhibit

  16. anna pry says:

    following on facebook

  17. anna pry says:

    following on twitter as @dapryz

  18. anna pry says:

    following on instagram as pryfamily5

  19. Suzane Carter says:

    I want to see Dolphins & Penguins

  20. My daughter really wants to see the whale sharks in the Ocean Voyager exhibit

  21. Atlanta is the half way point between my mom’s house and mine so on the way to grandma’s we always stop and do something fun in Atlanta. (Medieval Times at Christmas!) We are heading home next month and heard that we just have to go to the aquarium! My daughter would love The Dolphins Tale exhibit!

  22. Facebook fan

    Mary Carter Jenkins

  23. Instagram follower


  24. We would love to see cold water quest!! But have wanted to go to the aquarium for a while.

  25. Shared on Twitter @pasthepunchline

  26. Facebook fan here too!!

  27. Just followed you on Instagram

  28. trisha says:

    the sea monsters

  29. trisha says:

    facebook fan!!

  30. trisha says:

    follow on twitter @whitetrashtrish

  31. trisha says:
  32. amanda hayes says:

    I follow u on twitter

  33. amanda hayes says:

    i tweeted your quote

  34. amanda hayes says:

    i follow you on facebook

  35. amanda hayes says:

    my kids love the pet a sting ray exhibit!

  36. would love to experience the dolphin encounter

  37. fb fan- ria clarke

  38. following you on twitter – @rsmc1

  39. Caren Drink says:

    We are all about Dolphins. Thanks for the opportunity Jamie!

  40. Caren Drink says:

    I follow Blonde Mom Blog on FB

  41. Caren Drink says:

    I follow you on Instagram!

  42. Stephanie Galbraith says:

    I am a fan of BlondeMomBlog on Facebook.

  43. Wendy Foster says:

    The Tropical Diver animal encounter is the exhibit I’d most like to check out.

  44. Wendy Foster says:

    I’m a Facebook fan

  45. Wendy Foster says:

    I follow you on Twitter

  46. Wendy Foster says:

    I follow you on Instagram (wrw1852)

  47. Wendy Foster says:

    I tweeted about entering the contest-thanks :)

  48. Kristin kinse says:

    I would love to see the dolphin show!

  49. shaunie says:

    Would love to check out the Penguins Encounter

  50. shaunie says:

    I follow you on Fb as

  51. shaunie says:

    I follow you on twitter as

  52. shaunie says:

    I follow you on instagram as

  53. shaunie says:
  54. Jaclyn Reynolds says:

    Would love to see the Georgia Explorer exhibit!

  55. Jaclyn Reynolds says:

    Instagram follower- jaclynfett

  56. Jaclyn Reynolds says:

    FB fan JR Reynolds

  57. maria simon says:


  58. RICHARD HICKS says:

    I want to see the river scout exhibit.

  59. RICHARD HICKS says:

    fb fan

    Richard Hicks

  60. RICHARD HICKS says:

    follow you twitter


  61. RICHARD HICKS says:

    follow instagram


  62. RICHARD HICKS says:
  63. Lauren H says:

    I would visit dolphin area

  64. Lauren H says:

    I liked on facebook

  65. Lauren H says:

    I added on twitter

  66. Leigh Anne Borders says:

    I feel like the rabbit on Alice in Wonderland. I know I’m late but just in case you have not selected, I thought I would enter. I would love to visit the cold water area where the penguins are. I follow on FB and Twitter.

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