For 10 years, Atlantans have been proud of the Georgia Aquarium, the second largest aquarium in the world.
Can you blame them? With more than 100,000 animals and 500 species (think: whale sharks, penguins, dolphins and sea otters) living in 10 million gallons of marine and freshwater, the Georgia Aquarium is more than just a fun outing for locals. It’s a magical experience with more aquatic life than any other aquarium in North America.
Not to mention, weddings, summer camps and other special events (from scuba diving to sleepovers, behind-the-scenes tours and wine festivals) also bring visitors together through a passion for animals and appreciation for the beauty of the underwater world.
Of course, all that excitement comes at a price, and it isn’t cheap. A family of four can expect to spend nearly $150 on tickets alone, and that’s before tax, parking and food. (Note: Adult tickets cost $39.95 if you buy them at the door and children ages 3 to 12 are $33.95.)
Don't let these prices deter you from visiting this classic Atlanta attraction. We’ve rounded up 12 great money-saving tactics to help you save as much as possible when enjoying a day at the spectacular Georgia Aquarium.
1. Buy online, in advance. If you buy your tickets online before your visit, you can save a couple bucks on each ticket. If you want to get an early start to your day, buy an “early bird” pass online and arrive within the first hour of the day to save even more on each ticket.
Keep your eyes peeled for online early-bird, weekday visits with no time restrictions.
2. Take advantage of seasonal promotions. The aquarium often offers promotions, like Imagination Nights, which allow visitors to experience all the aquarium has to offer, but with fewer crowds and fewer dollars. The Imagination Nights promotion typically runs over the summer in the evenings (5-8 p.m.).
Tickets are discounted (only $26.95 plus tax) and must be purchased online. Ticket-holders also get the chance to catch a special performance of the AT&T Dolphin show.
3. Buy a CityPASS. If you know you’d like to visit other Atlanta attractions, buying a CityPASS will help you save big. Other than the Georgia Aquarium, the pass provides access to the World of Coca-Cola, Inside CNN Studio Tour, College Football Hall of Fame and more. The cost is $75 for adults and $59 for children ages 3 to 12.
4. Purchase a combo ticket. If you don’t need all access to every Atlanta attraction, go with the special Pandas and Penguins Combo Ticket instead, which provides access to the Georgia Aquarium and Zoo Atlanta for a fraction of the cost. Adults cost $54 and children age 3 to 12 cost $44.50 plus tax. Bonus: $1 of each ticket sold goes toward research and conservation. There's also the Mountains to Sea Combo Ticket, which grants access to the aquarium and Stone Mountain Park for $57.95 for adults and $52.95 for kids.
5. Become an annual member. If you know you’ll visit the Georgia Aquarium often, become a member. After two visits, the adult membership pays for itself and children save $7. All visits after that are free.
The more you visit, the more you save. A family of four can become members for $279.95 (a $3 savings), and individual adult, children and senior passes can be purchased, as well. Membership also comes with added benefits, such as discount tickets to special attractions.
6. Take advantage of hotel packages. If you’re coming from out of town, there are still ways for you to save at The Georgia Aquarium, which has partnered with more than a dozen nearby hotels, like Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Loew’s and Hilton, to provide guests with Preferred Hotel Packages. Book a preferred hotel package and get general admission tickets to the aquarium included. Guests also get admission to the AT&T Dolphin Celebration and the Under the Boardwalk sea lion presentation.
For example, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, located just four blocks from the aquarium, nightly rates with the package start at $179 and includes discount hotel parking, plus access to the Funbelievable 4D Theater and more.
7. Go with a group. If you can gather up a group of friends and family to join you at the aquarium, you can make a special group reservation and receive discounted tickets. A group means 10 or more kids for sleepovers (like school groups and clubs) or 15 or more students or adults. Prices vary based on the type of ticket purchased, but you can tally up good savings. Tip: Get one free adult ticket for every 25 tickets bought.
8. Eat before you go. Food and drink cannot be brought into the aquarium, so consider eating at home before you go and skip the overpriced snacks. There are also many budget-friendly restaurants close to the aquarium, namely fast-casual spots and popular chains.
9. Bring your military ID. Members of the service receive a 10 percent discount on tickets, so be sure to bring your military ID if you have one. Save even more by purchasing your tickets in advance from a participating military base ticket office — you can receive up to 25 percent off.
10 . Purchase a parking pass online to save $1 on your parking fees when you purchase in advance. Likewise, you can take MARTA to the aquarium (the two closest stations are CNN/GA World Congress Center and Peachtree Center, both of which are a 10- to 15-minute walk from the aquarium) to avoid hefty parking fees. After all, parking fees at many MARTA stations are free or cheaper than parking at the aquarium ($12 for non-members).
12. Check the aquarium's website regularly to see the different events going on. Although they might not all come at a discounted price, they’re great options for those planning on going out and having a great time.
Georgia Aquarium Information
Address: 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
For answers to more general questions, such as hours and holiday schedules, visit the Georgia Aquarium’s FAQ page.