Get swept away! Remember the wonder you felt the first time you saw the world under the sea? The sparkle of clear water, the shimmer of brightly colored fins, the familiar “smile” on a dolphin’s face: underwater life brings out the child in all of us. On your next family vacation, take some time to embrace your inner child. Visit an aquarium. We’ve made a list of some of the best aquariums to visit in the U.S., all within easy reach of our Exploria Resorts and Affiliated properties.
Georgia Aquarium brings more than 100,000 aquatic animals to the big city. Located in Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium’s 10 million gallons of water creates the western hemisphere’s largest aquarium, an incredible learning opportunity for families and visitors of all ages. Learn together or just take it all in as you discover dolphin shows, watch a sea lion training session, and immerse yourself in life under the sea in the 4-D theater.
Visit GeorgiaAquarium.org for special offers. General admission is $39.95 for adults, $31.95 for seniors and $29.95 for children.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Located in the heart of New Orleans, this aquarium has bounced back after the disastrous losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The aquarium features a Caribbean reef with walk-through tunnel and 400,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit with stingrays, sea turtles, and a 17-foot shark! If you’ve ever wanted to pet a penguin, you’re in luck: the aquarium offers a special Backstage Penguin Pass along with several other unique “wild encounters.” You can also meet parakeets, touch a stingray, and journey to unique eco-systems from the Amazon rainforest to the Mississippi River.
Visit AudubonNatureInstitute.org for more. Admission is $19.95 for adults, $14.95 for seniors and children, plus tax.
The Florida Aquarium
Get to know the real Florida with a trip to Tampa’s Florida Aquarium. You’ll discover unique habitats such as the Wetlands Trail (home to alligators and otters), Bays and Beaches (with coastal dwellers such as stingrays, sea turtles, and even a 300-pound grouper!), and the Coral Reef (you’ll meet some sharks among more than one hundred other species!). Kids can get immersed in Ocean Commotion, an interactive exhibit featuring an aquatic reporter out to share sea-life stories. Just gotta get wet? There’s even a 2-acre water play area for kids, adjacent to the aquarium’s restaurant.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg
Believe it or not, there’s an aquarium in the heart of the Smokey Mountains! At this outpost of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, you can meet penguins and sharks, discover a sea of colors, and walk through schools of fish as you travel through the aquarium’s clear tunnels. Plan ahead to paint with a penguin, a totally unique experience you’ll never forget.
Visit RipleyAquariums.com for more information. General admission begins at $25.99 for adults and $13.99 for children, certain experiences may be added for an additional charge.
Ready to plan a visit to one of these amazing aquariums? Exploria Resorts and Affiliated properties offer you a perfect home base for your family’s next adventure.
Exploria Resorts Destinations and Club Exploria Resorts
• Callaway Gardens: Pine Mountain, GA. Two-bedroom condos on a resort with recreation for the entire family.
• Maison St. Charles: New Orleans, LA. A hotel in the heart of the Garden District with old-world elegance and charm.
• Harborside at Little Harbor: Ruskin, Florida. One-bedroom condos in a waterside setting near Tampa Bay.
• Gatlinburg Town Square by Exploria Resorts: Gatlinburg, TN. Studios, one, two, and three-bedroom condos in the heart of Gatlinburg’s attractions.
For more information on membership with Club Exploria, which gives members access to thousands of resorts around the world, please visit ClubExploria.com.