Over the last two decades, downtown Atlanta has been in a nearly continuous state of revitalization. The Olympic Games can certainly be thanked for starting the process, but the transformation of The ATL has continued long after the flame was extinguished. The growth of the area surrounding Centennial Olympic Park is responsible for bringing scores of tourists to the downtown area every year, with attractions like The World of Coke and CNN Center. Easily the most popular - and certainly the most impressive - attraction to emerge in the last few years is the Georgia Aquarium.
|The Georgia Aquarium|
Opened in 2005, The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world, and was made possible mostly thanks to a $250 million donation by the founder of retail giant Home Depot. We first visited the aquarium shortly after it opened in 2006, and on a recent trip to Atlanta we were sure to put it on our itinerary once again.
|I would not want to encounter this guy at the beach...|
This is most definitely "not your grandfather's aquarium." There are scores of attractions within featuring dolphins, beluga whales, creatures of the deep, and of course, the ever popular whale sharks. There are also interactive exhibits throughout for kids both young and old to explore, and I especially enjoyed the opportunity to feed the stingrays. It is an odd sensation to say the least...
|I fed a stingray!|
Certainly the most impressive exhibit at the aquarium is the Ocean Voyager, which features a huge viewing window, as well as a tunnel through the enormous tank. I could easily spend all day in the viewing window "theater," simply observing the thousands of fish and majestic whale sharks. The tunnel is also a lot of fun and gives a unique perspective, but if you're a little claustrophobic like me, then you're likely to prefer the view from the theater.
|The tunnel through the tank...Not the Abyss, I promise.|
|"Hey Buddy, I'm trying to swim here..."|
|"And this kids is what we call The Circle of Life."|
You'll be forgiven for not pegging Atlanta, Georgia as home of the world's largest aquarium. And really who could blame you? For ages the city has been more closely linked to chili dogs, the Tomahawk Chop, and General Sherman...not whale sharks. The Georgia Aquarium is changing all of that, however, and is not only worth the cost of admission, it's worth making a special trip to The ATL.
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~