My December/January vacation wasn’t entirely restful—I traveled long distance with my family. Driving from New England all the way to the South was my kids’ idea. For them, it was either Atlanta or bust, because the lure of seeing the Georgia Aquarium was too much for them to resist.
America has aquariums everywhere, including my own state, so why travel a gazillion miles just to go to the Georgia Aquarium? I’ve got a two word answer—whale sharks. Atlanta has the only aquarium in the U.S. that houses whale sharks, the largest fish in the world.
And it has four of them in one massive tank. (And I do mean massive!)
This “fish” is so big it looks exactly like a whale—a large whale. Seeing these enormous creatures up close —face to fin—almost gives a sense of vertigo. It is hard to believe anything so big can actually be real.
You would think a gigantic shark would be terrifying. But instead of screaming, my kids were in open-mouthed awe. Whale sharks are gentle giants, they’ve got no teeth. Instead of being fast moving predators, they are slow moving congenial creatures. Good thing, because there are plenty of other fish in the sea—I mean tank—for them to get along with. Including several manta rays, which are each over six feet long. Of course, to a whale shark, the manta rays are mere guppies.
If you haven’t seen this phenomenal aquarium yet, I encourage you to do so. There are plenty of other wonderful things to do mere steps away. The World of Coca-Cola gives visitors the chance to try dozens of sodas from around the world. There is also a sprawling, beautiful park across the street with kid-friendly playgrounds and an impressive tribute to the Summer Olympic games Atlanta hosted in 1996.
I came back from my family trip fully recharged, although not rested. Running around with the kids after a loooooong car ride was hardly relaxing. But it sure as heck was fun. (Good thing, since I didn’t get any writing done.)
What great car trips have you taken with the kids? Post your answers here to give other readers inspiration for their Family Road Trip 2015.
Pictures, from top to bottom: (1) whale shark at the Georgia Aquarium, (2) Manta Ray at the Georgia Aquarium, (3) downtown Atlanta at night (4) Atlanta skyline in the early morning. All pictures by Stacy Hoff, 2015. All rights reserved.
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