The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Established in 2005, this vast and fascinating facility houses over 120,000 animals from more than 200 species. The stars of the show are definitely the whale sharks – the aquarium building was designed around their 6.3-million-gallon tank. These gentle giants are the largest fish in nature. It’s very rare to see them in captivity since they are so big. 

However, these are far from the only thing to see. Aside from the massive array of marine creatures, you can also enjoy 4D short films, animal encounters, special presentations, and even nighttime events like cocktail parties and sleepovers.

Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta - one of the highlights of 10 Best Family Things to Do in Atlanta and 10 Best Things to Do in Atlanta (Read all about Atlanta here)

photo by Diliff (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

What are the highlights and features of the Georgia Aquarium?

Aside from whale sharks, the Georgia Aquarium's noteworthy residents are manta rays. In fact, this is one of only a handful of aquariums in the world where you can see these graceful creatures. Other popular marine animals on display include beluga whales, California sea lions, African penguins and bottlenose dolphins.

In total, the aquarium has 6 exhibition zones based on different marine habitats, with a combined tank capacity of about 10 million gallons. The big stars are in Ocean Voyager, Dolphin Celebration, Cold Water Quest and Pier 225. Tropical Diver includes one of the world’s largest living reef exhibits while River Scout features animals from rivers around the world, including some cute Asian small-clawed otters.

Among the smaller and less famous creatures that are well worth seeing are African pancake tortoises, American alligators, black spot piranhas and a giant Pacific octopus. The range of sharks in residence is especially impressive, as you can see hammerheads, tiger sharks, silvertip sharks and blacktip reef sharks swimming around.

What else can you see and do at the Georgia Aquarium?

The Georgia Aquarium has an interactive learning centre (Aquanaut Adventure) and a 4D theatre, with plans already in place to further expand the aquarium to include more areas and attractions. The facility also has a cafe and a gift shop, though choices are pretty limited.

The Georgia Aquarium offers a range of special experiences and events, including behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters with most of its popular creatures. You can also book sleepovers as a remarkable opportunity to spend the night in the aquarium. Guests must be at least 7 years old, and those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult aged 21 or over.

Research and conservation play significant parts in the aquarium’s mission. A variety of volunteer programmes and educational initiatives are available for those who want to do their part.

Good to know about the Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium has its own smartphone app that provides interesting information and audio tours. There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the building, as well as charging stations if your battery starts to run a little low.

The building in Pemberton Place, a complex that also houses Atlanta's Center for Civil and Human Rights and World of Coca-Cola. As it sits on the western edge of the Hotel District in Downtown Atlanta, you can easily walk there. Parking is available on Luckie Street. 

If you’re using the city’s public transport network, MARTA, the nearest train stations are Dome, GWCC, Philips Arena or CNN Center on the Blue or Green Line or Civic Center and Peachtree Center on the Red or Gold Line. For those travelling by bus, the aquarium is on Route 32.

photo by Diliff (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta

Location: Pemberton Place, 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, USA

Open: Tuesday–Wednesday from 9 am to 9 pm, Thursday from 8 am to 8 pm, Friday–Monday from 8 am to 9 pm

Phone: +1 404-581-4000

Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller