Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Alligators and Anemones in Atlanta

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is the world's largest aquarium, thanks to the deep pockets of Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus. Roughly 250 miles from the nearest ocean, it's an impressive feat to have carted in dolphins, manta rays, whale sharks, beluga whales, and over 100,000 other marine animals to create this popular attraction.

Buy your tickets online to avoid long lines at the entrance. We visited on a Monday, and even with the majority of kiddos in school it was still slightly crowded. There are five different environments to explore; cold water habitats, the Georgia oceanfront, rivers of the southern hemisphere, tropical coral reefs, and the star attraction, a 6.3 million gallon tank called "Ocean Voyager".

The live action show "Dolphin Tales" is included in your ticket price ($30/adult and $24/child, weekends add $5 each to the price of your ticket) and you must select a showtime at the time of purchase. We got to the aquarium just before noon and the 2:30 dolphin show was the perfect way to end our visit. They open the doors for the show half an hour early and seats go quickly, so keep an eye on your watch.

Breakfast in the South comes super-sized, so we made it all the way through the Aquarium before getting hungry for lunch. Following my rule of trying not to eat in museum cafeterias led us back out into the Georgia sunshine to Googie Burger (similar to Shake Shack). It was on the other side of Centennial Olympic Park (be sure to stop and watch the Olympic rings water fountain) and would have been perfect if they didn't close at 3:00 (which is not what they said on their website), so a quick check of Yelp averted a hunger meltdown.

Just a five minute walk back behind the Aquarium is Max's Brick Oven Pizza, with Georgia's only coal burning oven. The crispy, thin crust pizzas were delicious and just what we needed to tide us over till dinnertime, which would be at the Atlanta airport.

Max's is also walking distance to the Georgia Dome, home to the Atlanta Falcons, so it fills up with enthusiastic football fans on game day. On the same block is the German restaurant Der Biergarten and the sports bar STATS, just to give the fans some more options. Although if it's a game day I'd take noisy hyperactive kids at the Aquarium cafeteria over grown men wearing face paint and football jerseys any time.

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