Georgia Aquarium: Whale Shark of a Good Time

The Georgia Aquarium is one of the biggest and best aquariums in the world. It was easy to put it high on our bucket list of “Must Go” places. We would like to start by saying a big “Thank You” to Jessica for being so cool with us. We always appreciate it when people open their doors and show us everything we wanna see. Now the highlights and details of the Georgia Aquarium.

Parking: Use the parking garage connected to the aquarium. It’s $10 for all day parking pass. We initially had some confusion on where and when to pay the parking fee. Here is the scoop on that subject: Pay when returning to your car at the kiosk near the elevators. Make sure to grab the receipt which you will use to raise the gates at the exit. Do not be cheap and use nearby parking lots offering $5, your car is much safer in the garage.

Hours: Sunday through Friday: 10am-5pm Saturday 9am-6pm Allow for 2-3 hrs to explore all that Georgia Aquarium has to offer.

Cost: General Admission Adult $29.95 Child $23.95. The experience for the child is “off the charts”, leaving long-lasting memories and making the admission price well worth it overall.

Our pictures and videos from the Georgia Aquarium centered around four permanent exhibits. We will give an overview of each exhibit. We decided to skip the Dolphin Tales because we heard it was geared more toward children. We also decided to pass on Georgia Explorer, we had been to a few aquariums in the prior months that feature local habitat similar to Georgia Explorer exhibit.

The Ocean Voyager Exhibit has to be the pride and joy of the Georgia Aquarium. It was a jaw dropper for us when we entered the exhibit and stood in front of the enormous viewing window for a long time just gazing into the blue hue. It is easily the largest tank in North America holding 6.3 million gallons of salt water, with four whale sharks and four manta rays . They are the only manta rays in an aquarium in the United States. An added bonus is the 100 foot underwater tunnel through the massive tank bringing you up and close to the giant groupers.

Nick standing in front of Ocean Voyager. Nick stands 5’11” The Ocean Voyager viewing window measure 23 feet high by 61 feet wide

Here is a tip: Have your camera ready when entering with a child, the expression on their face is priceless and needs to be captured.

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The River Scout was pretty interesting to walk through compared to the other exhibits. The exhibit carries an outdoor theme throughout the entire exhibit. River Scout features animals that can be found across the world. Some of our favorite animals in the exhibit: Asian small-clawed otters (sleeping) and red piranhas.

White American alligator in River Scout Exhibit

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The Cold Water Quest has a lot of stars in the exhibit The beluga whales (4 of them) are constantly swimming by the viewing window entertaining the crowd. They definitely acknowledge and know when people are watching them. The southern sea otters are huge compare to some other otters I have seen in the past from other aquariums. The otters were play wrestle with each other like siblings in their childhood years. In the penguin area, I convinced Nick to crawl through a tunnel to reach an up-close viewing area. The penguins were very active, swimming and waddling around their surrounding.

Nick trying to get a close up of the penguins in the Cold Water Quest exhibit

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We have to agree with Georgia Aquarium’s statement “Tropical Diver is a living art exhibit”. The Pacific Barrier Reef filled with so many moving colors making it rough on the eyes to select just one fish. We never saw a garden eel before and it was helpful that one of the volunteers was present to tell us more info about the eel.

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Our Closing Thoughts

Shawn: Great aquarium, really appreciate the high theme level for each exhibit. It works well in setting the overall mood for the exhibit. I could easily sit for more than a half hour in the Ocean Voyager and watch the whale sharks.

Georgia aquarium is a “Must Visit” if you have children. The kids in the area are lucky to be able to go on field trips to the aquarium and see the behind the scene workings. My childhood field trip consisted of trips to Johnstown Flood Museum which barely reached exciting on fun score.

Nick: The aquarium was amazing. If you have not been to Georgia Aquarium, you need to plan a trip ASAP. Going behind the scenes with Jessica was awesome. She was very hospitable, and knowledgeable about everything going on at the aquarium. She showed us some great stuff behind the scenes. I loved the penguins and the otters. I have always wanted to own a little penguin. I have to agree with Shawn that the Ocean Voyager was my favorite part. Sitting there looking at Voyager tank is like having a seat down on the bottom of the ocean looking out. Awesome view. Next time I wanna get in the tank! This place is definitely on my top 10 places. Can’t wait to go back. I give this place 10/10

We have more pictures on our Wanna See It All Facebook Page

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North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, We Got Turtles

The mascot for North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Shawn, Jerry and I decided to take a trip up the coast of North Carolina for one of our road trips. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores was one of our stops on the trip. The aquarium was better than I expected. The reason I had low expectations was due to the fact North Carolina has three aquariums along the coastline and figured that they would spread out key exhibits among themselves. The aquarium admission cost us about $8 a piece, which isn’t bad for what the North Carolina Aquarium has to offer. The North Carolina Aquarium has a variety of different fish from fresh water to salt water. They even has otters, snakes and an outdoor bird walk. My best advice is to check out the otter feeding around 11am for some fun play between the otters.

When you first walk in the North Carolina Aquarium has some fresh water fish along the walls leading you into the next room which has part of floor (interactive play) that looks like you are stepping on water which causing ripples and goldfish to swim away. The otters in the next room were not that active due to being stuff with food. We decided to come back later after their power nap to see if any of them were causing some curious fun. Only one of the three were awake after our second attempt, we caught him on video (video at bottom).

One of the otters at play

Moving on along, you will come to the reptile area which I love snakes and other reptiles, they fascinate me. They have small crocodiles, different kinds of snakes and a turtle tank. The turtle exhibit was filled with turtles, I had to estimate about 50 of those swimming critters. The aquarium created a pond environment for them to hangout in with couple of the old-timer turtles on the surface sunbathing to the heat lamps. When you walk to the next room there is a sting ray tank that you can stick your hand down in and touch one as is swims by. In this same area they have a nursery for baby loggerhead sea turtle. One of the turtles kept hitting the bottom of the tank trying to get either food or saw his reflection on the bottom. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores does extensive work and take great strides to help the loggerhead sea turtles.

Sunbathing out of the water.

The next room was the Shipwreck Tank. This is their biggest tank in the aquarium and the call it the shipwreck tank because of the sunken submarine creating the habitat for the fish.The North Carolina Aquarium had many different fish in with the sharks in the tank. They feed the sharks very well so they do not get the urge to digest the smaller fish in the tank. The North Carolina Aquarium probably had only 3 different types of sharks but they were cool to watch. One of them was laying on the bottom with its head next to a vent looking like a dogs cheeks when its head is out the window. They also had an adult loggerhead sea turtle on exhibit in the tank. The North Carolina Aquarium has a couple smaller tanks behind the shark tank. These tanks were filled with lobster, octopus, and jellyfish. The shipwreck tank was the best part of the aquarium and was excellent way to close out the aquarium.

This was the shipwreck tank with an assortment of sea life

All in all, North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is very nice for the price. My favorite part was watching the otter run around in the tank. The shark tank was pretty cool too. If anyone is in the Atlantic Beach area, this is a must do.

Riverbanks Zoo

Josh and I headed to Columbia, South Carolina to the Riverbanks Zoo. I never knew we had a really good zoo in South Carolina until I started this project, I was kinda shock learning this. In the beginning I didn’t have high expectations for the zoo I figured they had some farm animals roaming around inside the fence and that was it. I was very wrong about that idea. They actually have about 3000 animals and I didn’t see one sheep the whole time there. Here is our breakdown of the zoo:

Price:  I thought the price point for the admission(11.75 for adults) was a bargain and I had no problem paying that for two to three hours of enjoyment. Even though we didn’t eat inside the zoo because we were going to enjoy some great burger later, the zoo menu had reasonable prices.

Crowds: We went on the Tuesday not expecting to see much of the crowd because kids were in school. But there were still a lot of kids running around because the zoo is a popular field trip spot. I imagine the weekends and summer would be very busy. Parents love taking their kids to the Riverbanks Zoo because it’s a good excuse for them to be a kid too.

Time: We arrived around 11am and left about 1:15pm, so we roughly stay about two hours. We could have revisited some sleeping animals to see if they we awake which would have extended our time. They have a garden section but being guys that didn’t interest us so we avoided that area. If you decided to do everything and do it right than making a whole day of it could be done.

Pros: I like the kangaroo area, where I could walk inside the fence area and be up close to the kangaroos. My favorite animals were the elephants, meerkats, penguins, grizzly bears, and the monkeys that were swinging around their area. You could feed the giraffes and birds. If you like birds and snakes this place is for you, they have plenty of both.

Con: The only real con was that most of the popular animals were sleeping when we visited in the morning. I kinda understand that certain animals are more active at night than they are in the day. It’s no fault of the zoo for this, it’s just nature. Josh and I miss the location of the maps at the entrance area, so we were working without a map so we got lost a few times. So make sure you grab a map at the beginning.

Below is a video of the trip highlights