One of the biggest questions I’ve gotten since our Chattanooga day trip a few months ago was in regards to the Tennessee Aquarium vs. Georgia Aquarium and what the differences were between the two. Prior to me visiting Chattanooga, I wondered the same thing. Particularly, since we’d been to the Georgia Aquarium so many times, would we even find any value in going to the Tennessee Aquarium. I mean, could the experience of one aquarium vs another be that different and is it worth the visit? The answer is yes.
Aquariums in general are so magical. Especially through the eyes of a child. They allow us to get up close and personal with marine life. The ocean is a vast place, and there is so much about it that we have yet to learn. Visiting an aquarium can not only be fun, but also educational. That said, I love the Georgia Aquarium, as do my kids. Some of our favorite highlights include the Dolphin Celebration, Aquanaut Adventure, and the latest Virtual Reality Simulator.
While The Tennessee Aquarium lacks some of these interactive spaces we’ve come to love, it does offer a really seamless, airy, and more structured experience due to it’s unique 2 building layout and traffic flow, along with some really exciting exhibits we also enjoyed very much such as the Butterfly Garden.
In all, I definitely do think it’s worth experiencing both of them if you get a chance. Below is a quick overview of both the Tennessee Aquarium and Georgia Aquarium to give you an idea of what to expect at either.
The Tennessee Aquarium:
Situated on the banks of Chattanooga’s riverfront, this magnificent aquarium has everything you need for a day of informative family fun. From the mountains to the ocean, and everything in between. The aquarium is divided into two buildings, the River Journey and Ocean Journey. It has everything you need for your ultimate wildlife experience. General admission is $34.95 for adults and $21.95 for children.
IMAX 3D Theater: Get ready for a fully immersive, virtual reality dive to the depths of the primordial oceans, and that’s just in the lobby. Featuring laser projection, this top of the line theater experience is like no other. Enjoy showings of visually stunning movies like BBC Earths Oceans 3D Our Blue Planet and Pandas 3D. The price for adults is $11.95 and $9.95 for kids.
Animals & Exhibits: Being home to both fresh and saltwater, animals and fish, you will get to meet river dwellers like otters, frogs, turtles, giant catfish, trout, and sturgeon. Then head on over to explore the deep blue sea while enjoying all the attractions on the Ocean Journey. There, you’ll get to stand face to face with apex predators like massive sharks, and gentle species like butterflies, penguins, jellyfish, and an assortment of reef fish.
Special Events: The Tennessee Aquarium hosts many events and offers a number of programs for children. Explore the aquarium before or after hours, for a uniquely special experience. There are also daily animal programs:
- Penguin Program- Get educated while hanging out with the cute penguins.
- Lemur Life- Explore the island of Madagascar, learning all about Lemurs and their natural habitat.
- Secret Reef Shows- Watch amazing dives and ask the experts all about it.
- Awesome Alligators- Get up close with these toothy, prehistoric lizards.
The Georgia Aquarium:
Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world. It is home to 700 different species, including whale sharks. The only aquarium outside of Asia to house these majestic fish. General admission is $32.95 for adults, and $28.95 for children (ages 3-12)
Aquanautic Adventures: Embark on a one-of-a-kind, immersive learning experience. Offering 7 routes, come back time and time again. Complete 5, and earn your Georgia Aquarium Aquanaut Certification.
Specialty Certifications: The Georgia Aquarium is the only one in the world that offers these distinctive specialty certifications. Choose between diving with massive but gentle whale sharks, or swim alongside majestically beautiful manta rays. In order to participate, you must be open water certified. The cost is $69.95 + tax, in addition to the cost of your dive.
Conservation: Dedicated to the preservation, and care of their animals, in 2003 the aquarium partnered with HERA (Health and Environmental Risk Assessment) in conservation efforts for bottlenose dolphins. Learn about what you can do to help all while having the time of your life!
With so much to offer, it can be difficult to choose which establishment to visit – Tennessee Aquarium vs Georgia Aquarium, but again, I think each of these are an experience in and of themselves. In fact, why not make a weekend of it and do both? Less than a 2-hour drive apart, the whole family will thank you!