To say Chase is obsessed with whales, sharks, dolphins and basically any form of marine life would be a serious understatement and he absolutely lit up when we told him our plans for the weekend. I booked us a hotel room within walking distance of the aquarium (we stayed at Aloft Atlanta Downtown and thought the location was great) and we checked in with an embarrassing amount of luggage for such a short stay.
With this being our first trip as a family of four, it was also a bit of a learning experience for us. We opted to stay in one room which Chase thought was the coolest — SLEEPOVER! — but there were definitely pros and cons to the set up.
The pros mainly centered around the novelty of a family sleepover (it was adorable to see how excited Chase was to share a bed) and feeling Chase’s sweet little arm loop around mine as we cuddled up melted my heart. The cons, as I am sure you can imagine, all related to sleep. Chase is still napping (most days) but naps didn’t happen at all on this trip because he was way too amped to sleep when Mom, Dad and Ryder were in the same room. This resulted in a very, very fussy child by the end of the day. It also meant that on the second day, we had lights out and our whole family in bed “sleeping” a little before 8 p.m. (Thank goodness for my Kindle!)
Ryan and I agreed we would have our family of four stay in one room together for a super-short trip somewhere but for anything longer than a night or two, I think opting for a VRBO-style rental or a suite-style room where our family can be separated for sleep would be better for everyone, at least at this point in our lives while we have a midday napper in the family.
Anyway… back to the trip!
Our first full day in Atlanta kicked off with coffee and muffins from Cafe Lucia and some playtime at Centennial Park located right across the street from the aquarium.
We actually visited the park on Thursday night after our arrival since it was such a short walk from our hotel and Chase loved it!
We pre-purchased tickets to the Georgia Aquarium for a 10 a.m. arrival time and made our way to the aquarium about 10 minutes before the doors opened.
We opted to bring our double stroller with us since we walked from our hotel and were pleasantly surprised to find that the aquarium offers a free stroller check. We took advantage of the stroller check almost immediately and I wore Ryder in my baby carrier as we made our way to the Ocean Voyager exhibit to see the whale sharks, manta rays, a goliath grouper, green sea turtle and more.
Ryan and I actually went scuba diving with the whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium several years ago for my birthday and it was incredible so returning to the exhibit with our two boys seven years later was really neat! We spent hours at the aquarium and absolutely loved the various exhibits and observing life under the sea. Ryder stayed snuggled up against me for most of our visit but had fun kicking and playing when he was awake and we hung out in front of the giant aquarium wall of the Ocean Voyager exhibit.
Watching Chase at the aquarium was a highlight for sure and he had the BEST time trying to find various animals in the tanks and pointing them out to us. (He also blew us away when he identified the goliath grouper before we even told him what it was or pointed it out to him. I think we may have another scuba diver in our family!)
After our time at the aquarium, we walked back to our hotel room and crossed our fingers for a nap for Chase. Once it became glaringly obvious that was not going to happen, we threw in the towel and decided to head out on our next adventure.
We made our way to Ponce City Market which I remembered loving from my last trip to Atlanta and grabbed slushies and popsicles from King of Pops while we wandered around.
Eventually we walked across the street to Historic Fourth Ward Park so Chase could play with Ryan on the jungle gym while I nursed Ryder. It was a great little park with a splash pad and plenty of room to run around which we all loved.
With a very full day and no nap under his belt, Chase clearly needed an early bedtime, so we scrapped all plans for dinner out and picked up a pizza to bring back to our room before settling in for the night.
The black out curtains in our hotel room worked wonders because we all ended up sleeping in until almost 8 a.m. on Saturday morning! (I was up in the night with Ryder but he thankfully went back to sleep pretty well.) We had plans to arrive at Zoo Atlanta around 10 a.m. and eased into the morning in our hotel room before popping into Grant Park Coffeehouse for breakfast.
The zoo was bustlin’ on Saturday but we made the most of our visit despite the crowds. I’m not sure if we were on an express version of a zoo visit or what but we made it in and out in right around two hours.
The merry-go-round was a highlight for Chase!
Since we knew from Friday’s experience that a nap wasn’t going to happen for Chase, we decided to make our way to Piedmont Park which many of you highly recommended for some downtime in the sunshine! We brought food with us for a picnic lunch and couldn’t resist buying more popsicles from the King of Pops popsicle stand by the playground.
I must thank you guys for encouraging us to visit Piedmont Park because it was so gorgeous! We easily could’ve spent an entire day at the park and if we make our way back to Atlanta in the near future we’ll absolutely budget more time there. Such a fun spot!
We intentionally kept the rest of our time in Atlanta rather low key. We opted to hang our by our hotel’s pool and relax a bit before packing up and making our way back to Charlotte.
During our drive back home, Ryder and Chase shocked us by falling asleep at the same time (huge win and further proof Chase needed his missed naps) so Ryan and I joked that we felt like we got a mini car date and played the question game which is an old favorite of ours! We always have fun posing a variety of questions to each other ranging from serious to completely random. I definitely didn’t anticipate loving part of a long car ride back home so much but it was a really nice way to end our long weekend away!
This week feels like our last full week of summer since Chase officially starts preschool again next week! We had his orientation late yesterday afternoon and I already love his teacher for the year. I know things will be a little chaotic over here this week as we gear up for the school year and all that, but I hope to have the chance to check in a few times. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today!