Ever book a trip solely based on finding amazing flights and hotel rates? Because that's how our 36 hour trip to Atlanta came about. My wife had never been to Atlanta before (this was far from my first time) and I wanted to do something special for her birthday... So the pieces fell into place for us to fly in silly early on Saturday and fly home silly late on Sunday for a quick birthday weekend getaway. Having visited Atlanta many times before, I set out to share some of the best attractions in the city with her, throwing in a few new-to-me options that had sprung up since my last visit nearly ten years earlier... No we didn't go to Six Flags Over Georgia during this trip, but we did manage to squeeze in a ton of great experiences, food and fun into our day and a half long trip.
Guessing we're in the right place?
Yep... Definitely in the right place.
Since my last visit to the Georgia Aquarium nearly ten years earlier, there had been several new additions with another expansion on the way.
Ocean Voyager has always been the star of the Georgia Aquarium...
The crowds are evidence to the previous.
Why the crowds?
Because the Georgia Aquarium is one of the few aquariums around the world that is home to several whale sharks and manta rays. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is another one of these locations, which we visited earlier in the year.
The tubed entryway features a nifty moving walkway that is like Seaworld-esque and more airport-luggage transportive.
Manta rays are absolutely mesmerizing to watch.
Everywhere you turn in Ocean Voyager you'll find large rays gliding along.
Don't forget to dip your fingers in the fondle pond!
The first time I visited the Georgia Aquarium I spent nearly a half hour just taking in this view.
The Georgia Aquarium has a number of beluga whales as well, and they were quite active during our visit.
The foyer of the Georgia Aquarium is a lighting-junkie's heaven.
I love this one tank that simulates waves crashing overtop a reef.
As part of my wife's birthday celebration I surprised her with a Harbor Seal Encounter at the Georgia Aquarium... And you definitely get hands on time with these seals! Highly recommended!
There's now an action simulator in the foyer of the Georgia Aquarium that can be experienced for an extra cost.
Work on the new sharks expansion at the Georgia Aquarium is underway and expected to open in 2020.
Time for something new...
Starting off with a Chihuly sculpture is always a good sign.
There were some pretty incredible topiaries here.
Hadoshtay oombaday. Oombaday. OOMBADAY!
(Points if you understand the reference.)
More Chihuly art makes Adam a happy boy.
The botanical gardens features several Alice in Wonderland-inspired displays as a part of a seasonal exhibition.
Orchid lovers will find lots to enjoy at the botanical gardens.
You may find a butterfly or two while you're here!
Camels... Why did it have to be camels?
Another Alice-inspired display...
And one more for good measure.
Time to get out of here before I get Khaleesi'd.
Time for my favorite attraction in Atlanta...
If you intend to visit the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola, I highly recommend investing in the Atlanta CityPASS. You get priority access to both of these attractions (and trust me, it will make a difference), plus access to several other local attractions. It pays for itself in time saved and the cost of admission for anything extra beyond those two attractions.
I grew up visiting Atlanta as a kid, including enjoying the original World of Coca-Cola in the Underground. Since the Pemberton Place attraction opened, it has been a favorite of mine well into adulthood.
Over the years the attraction has seen a few changes, and since my last visit it was new that while in the lobby you're given free soda to enjoy before you head into The Loft.
As I'd discover at the end of the experience, the free souvenir World of Coca-Cola bottles are no longer given out at the exit. That's a bit of a bummer but the visit is still well worth it.
The Loft is filled with invaluable Coca Cola history.
The Coke Side of Life is still one of my favorite marketing campaigns Coke has ever done...
I'll never tire of this sight.
This part of the experience is hosted... As is the beginning of the next room (which I won't spoil). The film inside has changed since my last visit, moving away from the fantasy characters of The Coke Side of Life to real life people and the impact Coke has had on them.
So much to take in.
New to The World of Coca-Cola since my last visit is the The Vault.
The Vault has some interactive elements where guests can try to concoct a perfect recreation of the Coca-Cola formula... They won't win.
The sheer amount of history in this room is insane!
And behind this vault is apparently the secret formula... Believe it or not, there are two security guards and a legit security system to prevent you from getting any closer than this to the vault.
A look at the main atrium of the World of Coca-Cola.
This classic soda fountain is always fun to visit.
I love this place!
This wall and car were previously featured in the original World of Coca-Cola.
I found Orlando in Atlanta!
This display of Olympic torches is one of my favorites in the entire building.
Coca-Cola pin trading has been and still is a thing.
I found Disney in Atlanta!
The bottling process is always neat to watch.
Oh New Coke...
Coca-Cola teamed with Netflix to bring back New Coke to promote Stranger Things... I have two cans waiting to open on a rainy day.
I love that the company has embraced this dark period in its history.
The Perfect Pauses Theater is a great place to take in memorable video marketing campaigns from Coca-Cola's past.
And they save the best for last!
Of course the tasting room has the latest in Coca-Cola Freestyle machine technology!
Taste It is essentially Epcot's former Club Cool attraction on steroids.
Dedicated service stations with flavors representing almost all continents.
The sheer number of options to sample is incredible!
Smart Watermelon is here!!!
Inca Kola represented!
I love the World of Coca-Cola so much!
Fanta Melon Frosty... SLUSHIE!!!
Sprite Lymonade was also new to me.
Another look across Pemberton Place towards the new Georgia Aquarium sharks expansion.
Following success with food halls in Philadelphia, I figured it would be advantageous to research Atlanta food halls to see if anything popped up. Ponce City Market was the top result.
The inside of an old factory has been converted into a shopping and dining complex with a fantastic variety of options.
I can't recommend Botiwalla enough... Easily the best Indian Street Food I've ever had.
We loved it all so much we came back the next day for more!
Also at Ponce City Market was Pancake Social, a restaurant focused primarily on pancake-based entrees throughout the day. This lemon-blueberry skillet cake was amazing!
Banana nut pancakes... They were as great in taste as they were in looks.
After our luck with Ponce City Market the day before, we gave Krog Street Market a try.
I've not had a more authentic Mediterranean bowl in the States than this. It was incredible!
We also tried our hand at some bao, togorashi tots and Gu's Dumplings... Spicy as heck, but Gu's Dumplings were genuinely among the best things we've ever eaten.
Also included in our Atlanta CityPASS was Zoo Atlanta. We've made it a habit of doing at least one animal-related experience (zoo, aquarium, etc...) per trip, so we decided since it came at no extra we'd give this one a visit.
They have their own SkyTrail attraction including a zipline section, available to experience for an additional cost.
Any place that has live pandas has got my attention.
Seriously, I could watch pandas chill all day...
Let alone watching them eat bamboo.
They have orangutans too!
TPR Turtle Fancy fulfilled.
Like something out of Jurassic World...
The reptile exhibit in Jurassic World... I mean, Zoo Atlanta.
I ain't lion.
We went back for more Botiwalla at Ponce City Market and while we were there I stopped at W. H. Stiles Fish Camp for some raw oysters and clams.
Time to leave Coca-Cola territory and go home...
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
Ocean Voyager is mesmerizing. Like you, we probably sat there and watched it for like 30 minutes. It's absolutely unreal that they built something that massive into an indoor aquarium in the middle of a major city.
This has been one of the 'most FUN' trip reports. I can't stop looking - and SMILING - at your amazing array of photos!! Makes me want to head to Atlanta ASAP! Looks like you had a short-but-oh-so-sweet weekend. Thanks a million for sharing!
Alice (P.S. Looks like the Alice-in-Wonderland topiary is missing its "ALICE." Wonder if they're casting??
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