Family Field Trip: Tennessee Aquarium

On Monday, Lindsey was out of school, so Ken took the day off, and we planned a fun family outing. Since Lindsey is in public school, and since Kathryn’s bat mitzvah classes take up nearly every Saturday, the days we can do something together like this are rare, and we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

We drew out the anticipation a bit by not telling them what we were doing until we woke them up that morning. (Yep, still working on becoming a Fun Mama.)

We went last year to the Georgia Aquarium, and it’s great, but we wanted to do something different this time. Lindsey had never been to the Tennessee Aquarium, and it’s been a long time since we took Kathryn there. From where we live, driving to Chattanooga really doesn’t take much longer than driving to Atlanta and finding parking and so on, even though we’re closer in miles to Atlanta. So we spent the day in Chattanooga.

A mirror gave us a chance for a family photo.
Our favorite parts of the Tennessee Aquarium were the penguins, the octopus, and the river otters. The otters are so cute, and very entertaining. The penguins were cute and entertaining, too. (And one pair was working on making baby penguins. What is it with always being there when critters are mating?) The octopus wasn’t cute at all, but I could’ve sat there and watched it for a long time because the way it moves is fascinating.

Penguin Girls
Penguin Swim

We were surprised that the Aquarium had a butterfly exhibit. Kathryn was excited about that, but disappointed when no butterflies landed on her. This injured one didn’t want to get off of me!
Jamie Butterfly

We toured one half of the Aquarium, then took a lunch break. It was too cold to spend a great deal of time outside, but we did venture up to an observation bridge to look over the city of Chattanooga, and felt compelled to pose on a big brick sofa.
Brick Sofa
Ken and Jamie

After lunch, it was time for a River Gorge Explorer cruise on the Tennessee River. We’d never done this before! Our guide was very knowledgeable about the wildlife in the area, and the history of the river. Since Kathryn and I have been studying the Civil War, those parts were extra-interesting. The boat was very comfy and very high-tech. Kathryn was a little scared at first because it goes fast and stops fast. At one point, she adamantly stated that she never wanted to be on a boat again. Eventually, however, she relaxed and by the end of the day, she said the boat ride may have been her favorite part. We were all excited to see a bald eagle soaring above the river! By the end of the two-hour cruise, Kathryn went up top (which we could only do at slow speeds) with Ken and loved it!

Tennessee River
Kathryn and Ken on Boat

After the river cruise, we toured the other half of the aquarium.

Kathryn hammed it up for a close-encounter with a piranha, but we also got to touch young sturgeon, as well as a small spotted shark and several types of manna and cow-nose rays. I love that we’ve had these types of personal experiences; if I say a sturgeon feels like manna skin, with shark fins, but more firm than either of the other two, my daughters actually know what I’m talking about! Now, that’s real learning — and no lectures required.
Scary Piranah

P. Sherman
42 Wallaby Way

Yes, we found Nemo. 😉

–> Where have you most recently taken your family on a fun outing or field trip?