the wonderful world of veena.

14 October 2014

veen on the road: the tennessee aquarium.

One of my most distinct memories from visiting Chattanooga for the first time circa 1996 or '97 was going to the Tennessee Aquarium. I was awed by it back then and was curious to see what my reaction would be like now, so I checked it out on my last day in town.

Sitting on the banks of the river and one of the focal points of downtown Chattanooga, the Tennessee Aquarium is a beautiful building that draws in millions of visitors from around the world each year.

[one of my favourite downtown chattanooga spots]
The exhibits have expanded so much in the 17 or so years since I last visited that there is even a new building. The basic admission ticket includes entrance to both the River and Ocean Journeys, and you can add on to your experience by adding extra features for a bigger adventure. I didn't do it for myself, but I can imagine it would be fun for families with small children.

I personally enjoyed just wandering around at my own pace, spending as much or as little time with each species. Both buildings are set up so that they are extremely easy to navigate: you ride an escalator up to the top floor and slowly wind your way back down to the bottom. It moves in a pretty linear fashion, so you never have to worry about choosing which way to go or worrying about missing out on anything. And there are various spots where you can sit and take a rest, if you need one. My favourite resting spot was on the top floor of the Ocean Journey building -- as you get off the escalator on the top floor, there are four or five rocking chairs [made of recycled materials!] that face the River. They looked so enticing that I sat and just stared out the window for a while before continuing on my explorations.

[i made friends with some turtles during my visit]
I loved my visit to the Aquarium - and spent far too much money in the gift shops - but I think my favourite might have been the penguin exhibit. I will be the first to admit that I know very little about penguins, and I really liked how the exhibit was set up to teach visitors interesting facts about penguins. As it's been a few months and a lot has happened in the time since, I have sadly forgotten most of what I read, but I still really liked how it was all set up.

Another great aspect is that you can break up your visit, should you wish. Your tickets are good for the entire day, and with the Aquarium's location in downtown Chattanooga, you can opt to grab a bite to eat or shop around before or after visiting the exhibits. The Aquarium very much wants visitors to partake in all the attractions downtown Chattanooga has to offer, and it seamlessly blends into its surroundings as though it has been there for generations.

if you want to visit:
  • 1 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37204
  • general admission for the River and Ocean Journeys is $26.95 for adults and $16.95 for children aged 3-12; if you want to add extra experiences, it will cost more
  • give yourself at least 2 hours to visit the River and Ocean Journey exhibits; you'll need more time if you opt for the extras
  • first admittance is at 10am, last admittance is at 6pm. buildings close at 7.30pm. split your visit up however you like, but don't go to late and have to rush through
  • give yourself some extra time to wander outside the buildings, especially if you have small children who may want to splash around in the water
Aquariums are cool, and I'm pretty sure this one takes the cake.

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