Day 9 – Atlanta – Georgia Aquarium – World Of Coca-Cola – Human Rights Center

July 10th, 2022

We awoke in our apartment after a really long sleep. The trip had been pretty much full on up until this point and yesterday had been an epic day, and that was hot on the heels of one of the longest drives we have ever done. So our energy this morning was pretty low.

We had a nice slow breakfast in our apartment kitchen and then slowly got ready for a day of Atlanta sightseeing. As it turned out Atlanta is really compact so we didn’t need to tear around the city to pack everything in, we could take our time and really enjoy our trip.

Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium

The first stop was the Georgia Aquarium. This was basically the reason we had come to Atlanta. The Aquarium has been on the list for quite a while and was the main incentive to visit the City, of course, we were in the general area and had loads of other things to see and do, but Atlanta may not have made the Itinerary if it were not for the incredible Aquarium.

We had bought the Atlanta CityPASS to help keep the costs down and this worked great for the Aquarium. The Pass is your ticket so it’s straight in, scan the pass at the turnstile and you are in, after walking through the fancy metal detectors that do not require you to empty your pockets!

Inside we took a few minutes to get our bearings, we had booked a Behind the Seas tour and this was at 11:15 am and it was still only 10 am so we had some time to enjoy the Aquarium beforehand.

First up was the Shark Tank. The Sharks! Predators of the Deep is a new attraction at the aquarium and is pretty special in our opinion. There were a large number of the Aquarium Favourites Sand Tiger Sharks, with their large size and ferocious teeth (they are actually real softies) they really turn heads. There was a school of Silver Tip Reef Sharks, another great display species but there were also some pretty rare animals on display. Scalloped Hammerheads, circled the tank while an immature Tiger Shark prowled the surface.

Next up we headed to the Tropical Diver Exhibit which features a gorgeous Reef tank. Filled with living corals and tropical reef fish it’s a beautiful tank and one we would get a good look at later! This is where you want to head if you have kids and they want to find Nemo or Dory.

We then just had time for the River Scout which looks at tropical freshwater species such as Chiclid, Aligator Gar, Elephant Fish, Fire Eels, and the awesome Red Bellied Piranha. It’s a bit less flashy and glamourous than some exhibits but we really like it.

It was no time for the Behind-The-Seas Tour so we headed off to the meet point for this. This was a separately charged tour that we booked on top of the Pass. This short 30-minute tour takes you backstage to see how the exhibits work, the machinery and expertise that keeps them healthy, and the conservation efforts that the exhibits support.

I am a real Aquarium geek and have kept my own reef tank, and have been around fishkeeping from childhood, so was super excited about this tour. Kate is less of a geek but still enjoyed the backstage peek.

The tour takes you to the reef tank, the ocean Voyager, and the Beluga Whales. The Whales were the least interesting as you are still behind glass and don’t really get to see anything extra. The Reef tank was really interesting and you go to see other parts of the tank that are not on display but are there to keep the tank healthy (like a sump tank) You can also see the wave action go off above the tank which was cool. There was even a turbo-sized Frag Tank where they cultivate the Coral for display and for release into the wild. It was so cool to see the pumps and filters in there as everything made sense from an amateur point of view, it was just all super jumbo!

Finally, it was the Ocean Voyager Tank. Here we got to stand right beside the huge open ocean tank and could see the boiling movement of the fish below, it was really cool. However, every now and then the dark shapes of the Whale sharks loomed into view and we got to see these ocean giants up close.

The guide spent a lot of time explaining the ecological efforts the Aquarium are involved in and where the Sharks came from as they were rescued from the dinner table.

After the tour we continued to explore the aquarium, taking the Coldwater Quest, featuring Sea Otter, Spider Crabs, Puffins and Penguins, and of course the Beluga Whales*. We then headed to Dolphin Coast, which is pretty disappointing if you don’t have time to catch the presentation. We then briefly visited the Aquanaut adventure which has some cool Alligators before we headed to the main attraction.

Georgia Aquarium

The Ocean Explorer Tank is the largest aquatic habitat in the world! The entrance to the tank takes you through the 100ft glass tunnel, one of the largest in the world. there was a large queue for this, but this was mainly people wanting to stand on the travelator, we just used the walkway and got to see everything. Then at the back side of the tank, there are various windows and lookouts. But the main event is the 1400sqft+ Viewing window, again one of the largest in the world.

This window takes on the appearance of a giant cinema screen, but instead of a Hollywood blockbuster, you have the stunning Ocean Explorer collection. Sharks, Rays, Jacks, Tuna, Tavelly, Grouper, Angelfish, Tarpon, Batfish, and many more species. All in incredible numbers, it would be the finest marine tank in the country but there are a few even more special inhabitants. The Ginat Green Sea Turtle is a real beauty and Manta Rays are one of the most incredible animals on the planet here is one of the only places in the US to house them. And of course, there are the simply Stunning Whale Sharks.

The Aquarium house two sharks, both females, Taroko and Yushan. These are truly stunning and glide gracefully around the tanks. There are just two Sharks left from the original six (only 4 at a time) and when these pass on, they may not be replaced (The Kill Quota they were saved from has been banned since 2007). The Ocean Explorer will still be incredible but the Whale Sharks will be a BIG miss.

Georgia Aquarium

We stood for ages just gazing into the blue Abyss watching the Whale Sharks and Manta Rays just gliding into and out of view. It is so relaxing and mesmerizing to see these giants of the ocean. Eventually, we had to tear ourselves away. I could have stayed all day but we had other things to do.

* We are pretty much against keeping Beluga Whales in captivity and would never support an aquarium that was actively taking them, but we have also seen firsthand the difficulties of re-introducing them to the wild. So for now these that are in activity really must stay there until an alternative can be found.

World Of Coca-Cola

It was now lunch and we headed across the street to Johnny Rockets. There was not too much on offer around this Cenntinnial park and we had not actually tried Johnny Rockets before. Not sure we will again. The burger was ok, but was pretty flaccid and not properly seared. Kate ordered a Toasted cheese sandwich which was distinctly underwhelming. The Milkshakes were good though.

We then headed across to The World Of Coca-Cola. This was great fun and is mainly a Museum of pop memorabilia relating to Coke. After an impassioned intro, you watch a pretty bizarre Coke Movie that basically states Coke is the drink for all occasions when it clearly isn’t! Then you head out into the main museum.

There are several Exhibits, some based around Pop Culture, which is great as most of us remember most of these adverts and campaigns. There is the vault that contains the Secret Recipe for Coca-Cola. A Scent room where you try and mean guess the smells and there is the replica bottling plant.

The main event is the World Flavours tasting room. This is brilliant as you get to sample 56 different drinks from around the world from under the Coca-Cola umbrella. There are some really nice flavors like various Iced Teas, Joy Apple Lychee, and the famous Melon Frosty Fanta.

But some are distinctly vile and are only here for taking points, apparently, some people in some countries drink these but we struggle to see how. There was one that tasted of Alka seltzer, one that was just bitter (Beverly (Italy)), and then there is the Sour Plum Tea, which is basically what you get if you watered down BBQ Sauce…Nice!

After trying all the different flavors we were feeling distinctly SICK! That was a lot of fizzy drink to hammer down in a short space. Best we wash it down with some real Coke. There were several Coke fountains and no one is monitoring consumption so feel free to let go! There are also the really cool Coke Freestyle machines that let you have ANY flavor of Coke, Sprite, and Fanta imaginable.

With our stomachs unable to take any more fluid we headed off for something a little more grown-up.

National Center for Civil and Human Rights

And boy did we get Grown-Up. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a really important and provocative Exhibit. It is certainly not fun, and really highlights the terrible way we have and continue to treat our fellow man.

The main focus is on the US Huan Rights struggle of the last century and is pretty enlightening for us as we are from the UK it’s not really our history and it’s incredible things like Jim Crow were so recent! There is also plenty of focus on the other terrible ways Rights are based across the world and what we are doing to combat them slowly but surely.

With Martain Luther King’s Birth Place, and his final resting place a little over a mile from this Center it all feels very fitting.

Atlanta Car Parking

Shortly after leaving the Center, we headed back to the Apartment to freshen up a little. Before our evening activities, as we did so we walked past our Car Park and noticed the “DO NOT PAY ATTENDANT – ONLINE PAYMENT ONLY” signed we missed last night, while we paid an attendant.

There was no one to be seen right now, and the car park was pretty empty, we check the windows of other cars and none had the same ticket we did. Their tickets are printed and detailed, ours basically a raffle ticket. It dawned on us we had been scammed!

At this point, we were just relieved that our car was still there, it could easily have been towed and it had not even received a ticket. We were still only 80% sure the attendant was not legit but we were not taking the risk and made sure we paid the appropriate fee the correct way via the ticket machine and chalked it up as a lesson and lucky escape! This reignited the stress from last night and didn’t put us in the best mood for later.

College Football Hall of Fame

College Football Hall Of Fame

The Final attraction on the Pass was the College Hall of Fame. Again this is really convenient and located just across from where we were having dinner. Honestly, the attraction didn’t do much for us, we are not Football fans, (at least not what you call football), and as such it’s all a bit lost on us. But any budding football fan would love the attraction. It’s bright and airy with loads of fun interactive exhibits.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

Dinner was to be at one of our favorite Steakhouses, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. We decided on the Prie-Fixe which was great value. We got a Soup Du Jour (Lobster Bisque), a Surf and Turf (Lobster and Petite Filet) with a side each (Creamed Spinach and Garlic Mash), and a dessert all for the same price as an Al-A-Carte Steak.

We left very happy and full, even taking the Dessert home for later. We took a walk around Centennial Park as the sun set and then headed back to the apartment for an easy evening as we would be back on the road tomorrow.

Atlanta CityPASS

Atlanta CityPASS Review

A quick rundown of the Atlanta CityPASS we purchased. This was a great product for Atlanta and we hit 4 of the 5 attractions with ease which saved us quite a bit of money, and we were going to hit the Zoo on our way out of the City Tomorrow.

  • Georgia Aquarium – $49.95
  • World Of Coca-Cola – $20.00
  • National Center for Civil and Human Rights – $19.99
  • College Football Hall of Fame – $24.99
  • Zoo Atlanta – $34.95
  • Total Price: $149.88

CityPASS Price $86

Total Savings $63.88 PER Person!

We have a full review of the Atlanta CityPASS here

Walking Total – 13,665 Steps – 6.9 Miles

For a day when we visited 4 City attractions, we only clocked up 13,000 steps is pretty incredible. It shows how compact the Atlanta City center really is, and how easy it is to get use out of the CityPASS.

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