Chris and I have always loved taking one-night date trips to Atlanta, but we’ve never taken the kids to experience the “kid side” of Atlanta. We talk about it…we think about it…but we just don’t get around to it. So when the Georgia Aquarium contacted me and wanted to bring us for a visit so that we could give one of you a visit of your own, we were thrilled.
(Plus, it’s the end of the school year and we’re itching for any field trip excuses to count as a school day.)
(Even if they are on a Saturday. Because you know what? We didn’t do school on Thursday. Because I knew Saturday was coming.)
We zoomed out of town on a Friday afternoon as soon as Chris got home from work, but we just told the kids that we had a surprise weekend planned – the wonder and anticipation was thrilling for them.
Of course, the sunset would have to be fantastic when we were stuck in the car on the interstate. But I managed to get a picture anyway – at 70 mph through the sunroof.
Determination and Obsession go hand in hand.
Chris was kind enough to have pre-thought through where we would be at sunset and he had a plan to take me somewhere where I could capture it. He did very well.
We arrived at the hotel at 10:00pm Eastern Time (stupid losing of an hour), and the pool was open until 11. Chris was determined to start the surprises as soon as possible, so he rushed the kids into their bathing suits and took them down to the indoor pool.
Their weekend was already made.
We then ventured out onto the balcony to the heated outdoor pool. Where I stayed dry and enjoyed taking skyline shots,
And let him do the heavy lifting.
At 11pm, we took the kids back to our room in that “oh-my-gosh-I’m-so-cold-being-wet-in-the-air-conditioning” shuffle that I remember very well as a kid.
That night was actually the first time that all four of us had stayed in one hotel room – or one room of any kind – we’re total wusses when it comes to sleeping in the vicinity of our kids. But it went surprisingly well, especially since it was also the first time the kids had ever shared a bed.
Which was pretty darn cute.
The hotel, The Hilton Garden Inn, is adjacent to the Aquarium and had fantastic art along each hallway of different sea creatures that we would be seeing. On our way to breakfast, we told the kids the pictures were a hint as to where we were going, but being kids and therefore not the best detectives, they remained clueless. And really, a hotel stay was thrilling enough.
Until they saw this.
I didn’t even realize that I dressed Noah to match the Tropical Exhibit, but I was proud of myself nonetheless.
The Ocean Voyager Exhibit was our favorite – it has an amazing underwater tunnel that you can ride through on a conveyor belt…which Noah found fascinating – and very helpful in doing the splits.
And most excitingly, it was the home to four Whale Sharks.
My kids squealed and called them by name immediately, because every stinking time we turn on “Go Diego Go,” it’s the Whale Shark episode. EVERY. TIME.
For insatiably nosy people who are always analyzing how everything works like Chris and I, it was absolutely the best part of the day.
We got to see the surgical suite (I would say I was slightly disappointed that no whales had scheduled operations that day, but that’s not very nice to the whales,)
(But we did get to see some really cool x-rays,)
(Including a Penguin with a Stuck Egg, which totally reminded me of the feeling of being nine months pregnant,)
The underwater hospital,
The Analytical Chemistry lab, where they’re constantly monitoring the health of the water in each tank,
And we made it to the top of the Ocean Voyager exhibit just in time our favorites, the Whale Sharks, to get fed.
Linda was so fantastic to explain everything to the kids, showing them the food and explaining why the Whale Sharks ate such tiny morsels. She knew EVERYTHING.
It was mind-blowing to realize that we were above the gargantuan exhibits that we had just been inside – we were able to see the tunnel and pick out where the large aquarium wall was. We couldn’t see them and they couldn’t see us, but we were staring at the same Whale Shark as a whole bunch of people below us.
We then went to the top of the Tropical Divers Exhibit, where cliché-ishly enough, a diver was just surfacing. He had been feeding and checking on the animals below, which the kids found fantastic.
Ali found her favorite creature of the entire aquarium there – these tiny sharks,
(Noah’s favorite creature was this guy in the Pipe Room.)
I fancied these fantastically textured starfish,
And adorably bright frogs.
But once we got to go behind-the-scenes to the baby penguin nursery, all bets were off.
Baby Penguins win. Everything.
Linda kept my kid’s attention the entire time. I could really use her at home. A Behind-The-Scenes tour of the toy box would surely make them want to clean it, right??
After visiting several more exhibits, we went to the Dolphin Tales show, which was quite stunning in its grandeur. It was basically a Broadway play featuring fantastic Dolphin Tricks. Photography was hard in there, so it’s just something you’ll have to see for yourself.
And, as all family adventures should end, Noah didn’t move the entire way home.
So. Would you like an adventure like this?
The Georgia Aquarium gave me a four-pack of tickets (including the Dolphin Tales show), a behind-the-scenes tour, and a parking voucher that I would love to give it to one you!
All you have to do to enter is comment on this post – It’s that simple. The giveaway is open until Wednesday, May 28. The winner will be selected randomly and emailed, as well as announced on my Giveaway Winner’s Page.
Our trip was idyllic and I know yours will be as well, so good luck!
Disclosure: I was given a trip to the aquarium and a night’s stay in the hotel to be able to review the experience. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own.
p.s. – If you don’t win, the Georgia Aquarium has a southern hospitality discount for residents of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida until June 13. Just show your ID at the ticketing window and tell them that you want the Southern Hospitality Discount, and you’ll receive adult Total Tickets for $29.95 + tax.