See ‘River Giants’ across the state line in Tennessee

There is another world-class aquarium within driving distance of Georgia’s capital that is an absolute must-see

Atlanta’s Georgia Aquarium is a hub for visiting travelers and locals alike. After all, it’s the largest aquarium in the country. That being said, there is another world-class aquarium within driving distance of Georgia’s capital that is an absolute must-see.

If you want to see “River Giants,” the Tennessee Aquarium is the place to be. About a two-hour drive from Atlanta, the aquarium is in Chattanooga — home to some the Southeast’s most memorable hidden gems.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Chattanooga’s biggest attraction as one of the best things to do in the city. It’s one of the world’s largest freshwater aquariums and features a bevy of exhibits.

The “Ocean Journey” is a more traditional aquarium experience, where visitors will see jellyfish, sharks, reef fish and more. The “River Journey” introduces visitors to the fauna of the Appalachian Cove Forest and the Tennessee River, including river otters, alligators and turtles.

Arguably the best features of the River Journey are the “River Giants,” massive freshwater fish ranging from the lake sturgeon to the giant pangasius catfish. Both fish reach sizes as massive as 9 feet. And there is so much more to see.

“In the Rivers of the World gallery, tiny yellow-and-black Hillstream Loaches glide sedately over smooth river stones in the Chinese Mountain Stream exhibit,” The Tennessee Aquarium detailed in a March 6 press release. “In the waters of the Delta Country Swamp, Sailfin Mollys flash turquoise and gold tailfins while curious Spiny Softshell Turtles poke their heads up from burrows of mounded gravel. As they slip into the water, North American River Otters and Gentoo Penguins trail streams of bubbles from insulating air trapped beneath their fur and feathers.”

To allow visitors to see it all upclose, the aquarium announced it will feature a new exhibit of wildlife photos from award-winning National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore.