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!
(Overalls — Ridiculously comfy and less than $20! I ordered a medium. / Mustard slide sandals / Double stroller)
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!
Alicia @Bridges Through Life says
The Atlanta aquarium is definitely on my bucket list. That shark tank looks amazing and I am also going to look into doing the dive sometime as my fiancé loves scuba diving since we went in Australia last year.
the dive really was an unforgettable experience! i’d love to dive with whale sharks in the wild one day — definitely a bucket list item! where did you go in australia!? that sounds amazing!
Fiona MacDonald says
OH man what a fun weekend that looks like! I am obsessed with Aquariums and every time we head to Boston I always make sure to scope theirs out, your pictures look amazing!
We had an awesome weekend, filled with friend catch ups and then I braved skipping Sully’s nap for a chance for him to watch ‘ real baseball, aka AAA baseball’ he LOVED it, got to run the bases after the game and meet the players. Luckily he crashed hard after dinner and I was thankful we missed the usual no nap crash around 3-4pm!
So glad you guys had such a great weekend!
Looks like such a fun little trip, thanks for sharing! This is a good reminder that, to a 3 year old, it doesn’t take a big and fancy trip to have a great time. Would you mind sharing what all you packed and in hindsight, what you could have lived without? I would love the insight as we have a 3 year old and 8 month old and I always seem to bring way too much! Thanks!
I was surprised by how LITTLE we actually needed for Chase beyond snacks and clothes! We packed the pack ‘n’ play for him just in case and that was silly b/c he just wanted to be in the big bed (DUHHH) and Ryder slept in his bassinet. For Ryder, I used basically everything we packed — noise machine, boppy nursing pillow, diaper caddy, clothes, swaddle blankets, burp cloths, baby carrier. 🙂 Oh and I was definitely glad we brought our double stroller since we used it a lot!
Is Chase in a big boy bed at home? Ours 3 year old is but sometimes has a rough time in one on trips so we seem to always truck that pack n play around!
He’s still in his crib!
Lol I can’t imagine my daughter sleeping in a packnplay, and she just turned two last week! She sleeps in a twin bed at home though, so I think she would be offended at the idea of sleeping in that tiny packnplay. Haha. We have only been to a hotel once since we had my youngest (He is almost 5 months), and he slept in the hotel-provided crib and she just slept in one of the queen beds. We had flown across the country, so maybe that’s why we didn’t bring as much stuff.
Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy says
So glad you had a great weekend – I can only imagine Chase’s excitement at the big “sleepover,” but also the challenges that has. I feel you on roadtrips being made “longer” with a baby – we had to stop multiple times to nurse and calm a crying baby on a 4 hour, turned 6 hour road trip. Good times 🙂
SO many questions about those overalls! I’m in love with them. They look baggier online than in your pics. Are the hips super big like in the pics? The model kind of looks like an oompa loompa in the picture, but they look amazing on you. Do they run pretty true to size?
I agree — the pics are SO weird! I never would’ve ordered them had I not seen a fashion blogger wearing them on Instagram! They are definitely baggy but don’t look like drop-crotch pants at all — more like a wide-leg linen pant!
Family trips can be chaotic but are so worth it for the memories and to see the joy in your children’s eyes! We’ve learned to always try to book a suite, its nice to have two separate rooms for naps and so Mom & Dad don’t have to go to bed at 8. 🙂
Emily Winchester says
SO fun! I’m from ATL originally and we go back a lot from all with our 4 boys right to that same area. The kids LOVE the aquarium, arcade around the corner and definitely the park and splash pad. I highly recommend the embassy suites right there at centennial park. Free breakfast/happy hour snacks and all rooms are suite style rooms. They always have a great deal. It helps kee our sanity when traveling with all the kiddos. It ha a little kitchenette too which is nice for breast milk, snacks etc ❤️
Ah! That’s actually the hotel I tried to book first! It was completely sold out when I tried (cons of planning a last minute trip, I guess) but I’ll absolutely keep it on my radar for the future. Thanks for sharing your experience!
Hi Julie! Looks like a great trip. What baby carriers/wrap do you recommend? I’m expecting my second baby but never really utilized baby wearing with the first one. 🙂
Looks like such a fun trip, Julie! That’s so sweet Chase was super excited about your big sleepover! I’m sure it was a challenge, but it’s so cute that he loved it! I just love your family! 🙂 I hope you have a great week! Xoxo
How fun! I love your pictures! What camera do you use?!
I actually took all of these with my iPhone! Gotta love the new portrait mode!!
Kelly @ Bored to Badass says
What a neat trip!! You guys are amazing parents…no joke.
I was/am OBSESSED with dolphins. My dream is to swim with them….ugh someday! My sister’s favorite story is me getting scolded at Sea World for reaching too far into the dolphin tank LOL
That stroller is so friggin cool, I want someone to push me around in one! Ha
Aww what a fun trip, especially right before school starts!! I have a 3 year old and a 2 year old and we managed to do two road trips this summer…..sleep was not amazing haha but we have recovered! 🙂 Hope Chase enjoys school, my daughter had her first day at preschool today!
Suchot @ The Curious Frugal says
How did I miss that post of you diving with whale sharks??? What?? That sounds incredible. I absolutely love aquariums – more than zoos. I wish we had one close to us but we don’t! The next time we visit my family we will have to go to the aquarium there because I think my toddler will go bananas.
Sarah @ Sweet Miles says
I’m late to the party but this little family of FOUR vacay you guys took looked like so much fun!! I loved following along on your stories!