Georgia Aquarium review: is it worth a visit?
The Georgia Aquarium is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Atlanta, and for good reason. Read our complete Georgia Aquarium Review for all the details and things you need to know before your visit!
With more than 11 million gallons of water and hundreds of different species on display, there’s something for everyone at this massive aquarium. Whether you’re a fan of fish or not, a visit to the Georgia Aquarium is sure to be an interesting experience.
The Georgia Aquarium is one of the top aquariums in the United States, and it’s well worth a visit for anyone in the Atlanta area!
Location: 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
The aquarium has seven major galleries, two interactive & trainer-led shows, a couple of animal encounters, and a 4-D theater the Georgia Aquarium is sure to awe and inspire you.
You’ll find something interesting to see around every corner, from impressive whale sharks to playful penguins.
The Georgia Aquarium exhibits its animals by climate or world location, making it very easy for visitors to understand where the animals come from and their habitats.
There are a total of seven galleries which are:
The Georgia Aquarium has recently renovated the Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone to include new interactive STEM features and educational opportunities.
The six zones in the gallery represent different extreme environments found on Earth, from dry deserts to our deep oceans.
Through this renovated gallery, the Aquarium hopes to provide visitors with a better understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math’s role in allowing researchers to reach these wild places.
In addition to new interactive features, the gallery will also be home to some new animals, including wood frogs, venomous fishes, corals, and insects.
This renovated gallery will provide an enjoyable and educational experience for all who visit.
Cold Water Quest
The Aquarium’s Cold Water Quest gallery is dedicated to animals that inhabit cold ocean waters.
On display are a variety of fish and marine mammals, including Australian weedy sea dragons, garibaldi damselfish, Japanese spider crabs, sea otters, penguins, and more.
The Cold Water Quest gallery allows visitors to learn about the diversity of life in cold ocean ecosystems and the importance of conserving these habitats.
My favorite is the African penguin exhibit! I only wish there were benches or chairs because I could spend hours watching the penguins interact with each other!
The African penguin exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium’s Cold Water Quest features more than 25 nesting areas that are integrated into naturalistic rockwork.
This exhibit is also equipped with a state-of-the-art lighting system that mimics the natural light cycle from twilight to moonlight.
Acrylic tunnels and pop-up windows allow guests to meet their favorite feathered friends face-to-face. The exhibit also features a state-of-the-art filtration system that recycles water from the Atlanta Zoo.
There’s much more here, like the sea otter exhibit, harbor seals, and the amazing pod of beluga whales that serve as incredible ambassadors for marine conservation efforts!
Visit the aquarium’s pod of common bottlenose dolphins before catching one of their two dolphin shows!
The Georgia Aquarium is home to a family of bottlenose dolphins, including three calves born in 2017. These magnificent animals are fascinating to watch.
Bottlenose dolphins are intelligent marine mammals that are found in warm and temperate waters around the world. They are highly social creatures, living in groups of up to a dozen individuals.
Bottlenose dolphins are known for their distinctive shape, with a long beak-like nose and a curved dorsal fin.
They are also known for their acrobatic abilities, often breaching the surface of the water and performing flips and twists.
Bottlenose dolphins use a variety of vocalizations to communicate with one another, and they also have the ability to use sonar to locate objects in their environment.
Studies have shown that bottlenose dolphins are capable of complex thought and emotion and have even been known to rescue humans from danger.
Ocean Voyager (Built by the Home Depot)
Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Voyager exhibit is unfathomably large—the size of a football field, ranging from 20 to 30 feet deep and filled with 6.3 million gallons of saltwater – in fact, The Ocean Voyager gallery at the Georgia Aquarium is one of the largest single aquatic exhibits in the world, and is home to whale sharks, manta rays and thousands of other fascinating fish.
The exhibit was designed to house whale sharks, the largest fish species in the world. With 4,574 square feet of viewing windows, a 100-foot-long underwater tunnel, 185 tons of acrylic windows and one of the largest viewing windows in the world at 23 feet tall by 61 feet wide, the Ocean Voyager gallery offers visitors an incredible opportunity to view these massive creatures up close.
In addition to the whale sharks, the exhibit is also home to schools of predatory trevally jacks, squadrons of small and large stingrays, enormous goliath grouper and several sharks.
As one of the largest and most popular exhibits at the Georgia Aquarium, the Ocean Voyager gallery provides visitors with a truly unique opportunity to explore our oceans like never before.
Riding on the moveable walkway makes me a little off-balance… something about my feet moving in one direction while looking up at fish moving in a different direction throws off my equilibrium, but I LOVE it so much anyway. I was amazed at the massive stingray they had in the tank, too!
SHARKS! Predators of the Deep
The Georgia Aquarium’s newest exhibit is Sharks! Predators of the Deep.
This exhibit features more than a dozen species of sharks, including great white, hammerhead, and tiger sharks.
The exhibit also includes a variety of other marine predators, such as barracuda, piranhas, and eels.
Insider’s Tip – there are 14 viewing areas in here! The first few areas get super clogged and backed up. Keep walking and you will find less people and better views farther in the exhibit!
I’d also suggest that you take time to read some of the placards placed around the exhibit. They serve to help you garner a fresh perspective and greater appreciation for these often feared creatures of the deep.
Sharks actually play a vital role in the health of the ocean ecosystem. As top predators, they help keep populations of other animals in check, which can ultimately help maintain the ecosystem’s balance.
Sharks are often feared and misunderstood despite their important role in the ocean ecosystem.
(Southern Company) River Scout
The Southern Company River Scout gallery offers visitors the chance to learn about the diverse array of animals that rely on rivers for their survival.
Themed environments full of waterfalls, logjams and a simulated meandering North American river provide an immersive experience that is sure to educate and entertain.
Among the many river creatures on display are alligator snapping turtles, archerfish and Asian small-clawed otters.
Kids will love getting up close and personal with these fascinating animals, while adults will appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the vital role freshwater ecosystems play in our world.
Whether you come away from your visit with a greater appreciation for the natural world or simply a newfound appreciation for air conditioning, the Southern Company River Scout gallery will make a lasting impression.
Obviously, the otters are my favorite part of this exhibit. But, I also really enjoyed the part of the exhibit that focused on the cultural importance of rivers in human history.
The Tropical Diver exhibit is a particularly impressive display, showcasing a wide range of colorful fish and corals. This exhibit is arranged like a gallery, with each display carefully crafted to resemble a natural reef habitat.
Visitors will see many familiar species, such as seahorses and clownfish, as well as less well-known creatures like the garden eel. The exhibit also features three jellyfish displays, which are sure to mesmerize all who see them.
My husband said he could sit and watch them all day! They are very relaxing for some reason.
Insider’s Tip – be sure to check out the schedule of feedings and talks! They are really interesting and informative, and it’s a great way to see the animals up close.
As if wandering through the galleries isn’t enough, the Georgia Aquarium has interactive & trainer-led shows, a couple of animal encounters, and a 4-D theater!
During the presentation, you’ll learn all about these amazing animals – their anatomy, behavior, diet, and more.
You’ll also get to see the dolphins up close as they perform a variety of tricks and stunts. It’s really incredible to see how intelligent and graceful these animals are.
The presentation lasts about 30 minutes, and it’s definitely worth seeing if you have the chance.
BUT, just a warning: the aquarium hasn’t done a great job with crowd-control once you leave the stadium. You (and 1800 other people) are all trying to leave the show through one small hallway and ONE single-person-wide escalator!
Plus, its HOT! You are packed in like sardines, barely moving through the hallway, just trying to make your way back down to the main level. It took us longer to get out of the hallway and back downstairs than it took us to watch the show!
Insider’s Tip – try to see the Dolphin Presentation as early in the day as possible, before the crowds start to pour in.
Sea Lion Presentation
We didn’t leave time to watch the sea lion presentation, so we can’t give any tips on this.
Hopefully, our next trip to the Georgia Aquarium will be on a weekday so we can avoid the crowds!
If you really want to get up close and personal with the animals, you can sign up for one of their animal encounters! Several options are available, including:
- Beluga Whale
- Dolphin Encounter
- Habor Seal
- Sea Lion
- Shark & Ray
The Georgia Aquarium’s 4D Theater is one of the most advanced in the world, and allows guests to experience the underwater world from an animal’s perspective.
The theater features high-quality 3D projection, combined with special effects that are synchronized to the film production.
This creates a set of “4D” immersive and entertaining effects for audiences. The 4D Theater is equipped with interactive seats and unique special effects that add to the experience.
By combining the highest quality projection with special effects, the 4D Theater at the Georgia Aquarium provides an unforgettable experience for guests.
The shows change regularly, so be sure to check the website to see what’s playing during your visit.
Things you should know
We spent about 5 hours at the aquarium, which wasn’t long enough! There is so much to see and do, that you could easily spend an entire day here.
We didn’t have time for the Aquanaut Adventure, Sea Lion SHow, 4D Theater, or lunch! We also rushed through the gift shop!
Where to eat
There’s an eatery inside the Georgia Aquarium and a few options outside.
If you plan to eat inside the aquarium, I recommend getting there early so you can grab a table before the crowds start pouring in. The line for food gets very long, very quickly!
It was so packed and the lines were so long that we gave up and ate elsewhere.
There are also several restaurants within walking distance of the Georgia Aquarium, including a crazy busy Chick-fil-A.
Insider’s Tip – if you are planning to grab a chicken sandwich from CFA, order via the app. It is a VERY busy one!
There are many parking garages near the aquarium, but the best option is the Aquarium Parking Garage.
It is the only parking garage that offers direct covered walkway access to the Georgia Aquarium.
The Aquarium Parking Garage is located at 367 Luckie Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30313.
Hours of Operation
The Aquarium is open 365 days a year!
Monday – Thursday: 9:00am – 8:00pm
Friday – Sunday: 9:00am – 9:00pm
FAQs about the Georgia Aquarium
As we get more questions about our experience, we will add them and their answers here!
Can I bring food into the Georgia Aquarium?
You are not allowed to bring food or drinks outside the Georgia Aquarium, except baby formula and baby food.
How big is Georgia Aquarium?
Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the United States, with more than 11 million gallons of water and over 100,000 animals.
How long does it take to visit the aquarium?
The internet recommends 3-5 hours, but we spent 5 hours there and didn’t have time to see it all.
So, if you are like us and like to read the plaques, watch the animals, stroll, take your time, catch the shows, eat, and shop, then you need to give yourself closer to 7 or 8 hours.
How much does it cost to visit the Georgia Aquarium?
Admission prices are as follows:
- General Admission: $44.95 + tax
- Children ages 2 and under are free.
OR, you can purchase the Atlanta CityPASS, which includes Georgia Aquarium admission.
The Atlanta CityPASS is a great way to see some of the city’s best attractions.
For one low price, you can visit five of Atlanta’s top attractions, including the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, and the Zoo Atlanta.
And if you purchase your CityPASS online, you’ll save even more money. The Atlanta CityPASS is valid for nine days from the first day of use, so you can take your time exploring all that the city has to offer.
With the CityPASS, you’ll get to see the best of Atlanta without breaking the bank.
Is the Georgia Aquarium ethical?
The Georgia Aquarium is a nonprofit marine wildlife park, located in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The facility is home to more than 100,000 animals of 500 different species.
Many of these animals are considered to be “ambassadors” for their wild counterparts, and the aquarium works with several conservation organizations to help protect them.
The Georgia Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is licensed as a Class R research facility under the Animal Welfare Act.
This license is the highest standard of establishing an ethical review of animal research for advanced scientific understanding; regulated by the Animal Welfare Act under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Georgia Aquarium’s mission statement includes a commitment to promoting “a better understanding of our aquatic world through education and conservation.”
In addition to its educational programs, the aquarium also actively participates in research and conservation projects.
For example, the aquarium has partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society to study whale sharks in the wild.
Overall, the Georgia Aquarium appears to be committed to its education and conservation mission and is operating ethically.
Our Final Thoughts:
Overall, we had a great time at the Georgia Aquarium! There are so many different things to see and do, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Atlanta area. We’ll definitely be back again soon!
As a tourist destination, the Georgia Aquarium is top-notch. There’s something for everyone, from sharks to dolphins to penguins.
I have to say that the penguins are my favorite attraction – they’re so cute and playful.
I love how they waddle & play together and enjoy watching how the “mated for life” couples interact with each other!
I also really enjoyed the dolphin show. The aquarium is huge, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Atlanta.
The Georgia Aquarium might be one of my most favorite aquariums we have visited.
The huge tanks with so much marine life in them is spectacular. I could sit and watch the shark tank for hours.
The Whale shark is one of a kind. It is the only one in an aquarium in North America.
The dolphin show was too cool as well. Make sure to get your passes as soon as you get there, though. It will let you know when it is available.
The place was packed with people, but that could be because it was the last weekend before school started.
However, we could see so much while there, even though it was crowded.
This is at least my second time visiting the Georgia Aquarium, but it won’t be my last.
The Georgia Aquarium is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Atlanta, and for good reason. With more than 11 million gallons of water and hundreds of different species on display, there’s something for everyone at this massive aquarium.
Whether you’re a fan of fish or not, a visit to the Georgia Aquarium is sure to be an interesting experience. The Georgia Aquarium is one of the top aquariums in the United States, and it’s well worth a visit for anyone in the Atlanta area!
DISCLOSURE: I was recently invited to Atlanta on a FAM Tour to enjoy a weekend of exploring and delicious meals in exchange for an honest review. Any opinions stated are strictly my own and were not influenced by anyone. Also, no money exchanged hands.