Atlanta is another place that was high on my list for ages. I was so excited to include it as part of our giant road trip a few years ago. One of the reasons I was most excited? Atlanta is home to Georgia Aquarium – which held the title of largest aquarium in the world for several years. While it has since been surpassed in size, it remains the aquarium with the most animals in the world as well as the largest in the US. In addition to the aquarium, Atlanta is the capital of Coca-Cola and has our favorite brewery, Terrapin, close by. Keep reading to find out why we loved it so much!
The Star of Atlanta: The Georgia Aquarium
Okay, I know I am all about budget travel, but I also believe that spending a little extra money for a worthwhile experience is important. Don’t be alarmed at the price of the Georgia Aquarium – it is SO worth it! That being said, you can still find ways to save money on the $40 admission. Buy your tickets online, go early in the morning (before 11am), or go on a weekday. Combine some of those and save the most! Another way to save money in Atlanta is to purchase a CityPASS to get admission to several attractions and save quite a bit!
Yes, It’s Amazing
The Georgia Aquarium had been one of the top places I wanted to visit for a very long time. I’m a huge animal lover, remember? Knowing it was the biggest aquarium in the US made it very high on the bucket list. And it did not disappoint. Stepping foot inside the building, I was instantly in awe. There is a grand lobby with entrances to several different exhibits. The design of each one was incredible! To truly get the most out of your visit, give yourself at least 3-4 hours to see all of the exhibits.
In Coldwater Quest you can visit with Gracie the sea otter, penguins, and more. The beluga whale is always popular! Harbor seals are in the same aquarium. My favorite exhibit has to be Ocean Voyager. The tank holds 6.3 million gallons of water and is home to the largest fish on the planet, the whale shark. It is an absolutely amazing experience to stand just on the other side of the glass from a whale shark. It’s an experience you will never forget. There is also a tunnel in the tank that you can walk through and see the fish swimming all around you! The river otters in the Southern Company River Scout exhibit are just a joy to watch – so entertaining! In Tropical Diver you’ll find jellyfish and more floor-to-ceiling tanks to admire. Aquanaut Adventure is a kid-friendly interactive zone, but adults should check it out too! There are viewing window to the top of the biggest tanks. If you’re lucky (like we were), you might see the sharks being fed or the sea lions being trained!
Always one of my favorite parts of an aquarium! And in Atlanta, they put on a show! Unfortunately they don’t allow photos or video during the show, but you can watch the dolphins swimming around before and after the show. Seats fill up, so be sure to get there at least twenty minutes before the show starts!
After the aquarium, we walked over to the World of Coca-Cola. Now let me tell you – I tried to get my husband up and ready early that morning, knowing we would need a lot of time for both places. But he continued to show disinterest in the World of Coca-Cola, and took his sweet time getting ready. Fast forward to the museum. Less than five minutes after entering, he was eating his words. He later apologized and said he didn’t realize how awesome it would be! The Coke museum walks you through the history of Coca-Cola in such a fun way. From the original advertisements and product designs, to the replica of the American Idol lounge at the end, every moment was incredible. One of my favorite parts was the giant cola bottles decorated in so many different ways scattered throughout the building.
Highlights of the Coke Museum
You can hold an Olympic torch! Look at pins from all of the Olympic games that have been sponsored by Coca-Cola. Sit at a replica of an old-fashioned soda fountain bar. Walk past the vault that contains Coke’s “secret recipe” – no seriously, this is a thing. Take your photo with the giant Coca-Cola polar bear. At the end you get to the tasting room, where you can try Coke products from around the world. They have soda taps set up at pillars labeled by continent. There is a challenge that has spread across the internet if you dare to accept. Try the “Beverly” and not make a face or spit it out. It is by far the most hated (and most talked about) of all of the samples there! After you are done sampling, head to the conveyor belt and pick up your own small glass bottle of Cola – as fresh as you can get it!
I know that the escape room trend has spread across the country now, and we have done several. But, the very first one we did was in downtown Atlanta – at Paranoia Quest. It’s almost a shame that we did this one as our first escape room, because all the rest that we have done have paled in comparison! We loved Paranoia Quest. It was so well done and the strangers we were put with were just as great. The escape room actually consisted of several rooms, and you had to figure out different clues in each room to move onto the next. The props and clues were really well designed and very interactive. I highly recommend a trip there! If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find a Groupon deal like I did!
No Trip is Complete without a Brewery…
About an hour east of Atlanta is Athens, Georgia, home to one of my favorite breweries – Terrapin Beer. There are so many reasons why my husband and I love Terrapin, so visiting the brewery was a definite stop on our trip.
Reasons I love Terrapin:
2 – Their motto is “all about bringing Terrapin beer with you on life’s adventures, no matter how big or small.” How could I not like that? Use hashtag #TakeTerrapin to share your adventures with Terrapin beer.
3 – They collaborate with The Walking Dead. If you look closely during certain episodes, you will see the characters drinking a Terrapin beer or walking past boxes labeled “Terrapin Beer”. In response, Terrapin has made two special releases themed after the show – The Walking Dead Blood Orange IPA and Lucille. Lucille is aged on hickory, white ash, and maple woods – the same three that are used to make baseball bats. How cool is that?
4 – Their logos are adorable and clever.
5 – Their mascot is a turtle. You can’t even argue with me there.
Reasons I don’t love Terrapin:
They still don’t distribute in New York state! I always have to travel to get their beer. Not that traveling is a problem! But it would be nice to have it regularly. Maybe someday…
Anyway, back to the brewery…
They are currently open Wednesdays through Sundays and offer tastings and free tours. When you enter the brewery, you’ll walk into a cute shop FULL of Terrapin gear and memorabilia. Contain yourself for now and walk up to the counter to purchase your glass and tasting tickets. If you go during the week of your birthday, you’ll get a special birthday glass – for free! The brewery has taps both inside and out, with a great atmosphere all around. You give a ticket to one of the bartenders and tell him/her your draft of choice and enjoy! Outside there are picnic tables and lawn games; in the summer there are bands playing music as well. They offer tours of the brewery regularly. Since it was so quiet the night that we visited, we got a private tour. Just us and the tour guide; so it was awesome! You can read more of what I have to say about Terrapin in Female Travel Bloggers Share Their Favorite Craft Breweries in the USA.
Overall, we loved Atlanta and can’t wait to go back. Have you ever been? What did you think?