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?

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Nicole Schuman

Wow! Family field trip. field trip I’ve only know is from school. Anyways, this is great family bonding. Good job!


This looks like an amazing place to visit! What a fun time! Thanks for visiting Take Six! 🙂

Tonya @ The Traveling Praters

My family loves the Tennessee Aquarium! When we lived in Northern Alabama, we bought a pass so we could stop each time we were traveling to Atlanta. It was a great place to stop and stretch our legs. I love how you broke up your tour of the aquarium with a River Gorge Explorer cruise! What a great idea! Oh, that couch…we just couldn’t resist having a seat and taking our picture there too. I just love that quirky, fun stuff! I’m wondering, since you are studying the Civil War if you’ve thought about making a trip back to Chattanooga… Read more »


Jamie, I LOVE this! I was grinning through the entire post. You and your family are beautiful and it looks like you had an awesome day. So glad you took the opportunity to do it. Isn’t homeschooling just AWESOME?!?!? 😀

Theresa S.

We love the Tennessee Aquarium! We’ve never been on the River Gorge Explorer Cruise, although I’ve looked at it and wondered if it would be worth the cost. It looks like your family had a great day!


We went to the San Diego’s Museum of Man yesterday. It was a great time.
Looks like you had a wonderful day. Full of real learning and smiles!!


My 3 year old was sitting next to me with his play-doh while I was reading your post. Right after I saw your caption for the Nemo picture (I wasn’t reading it out loud), he looked up and yelled, “Hey! You found Nemo!” Made me laugh. :o)


That sounds like a wonderful day! In fact, I’m putting this on my (mental) list of places to go! Very neat!

Kara @ The Chuppies

Well–on Sunday we went to the zoo–and I realized it had been WAY too long…
Then on Monday my husband took the kids on a meat market tour.
Nothing like touring the city looking at raw meat 🙂

Side note–this should probably have been obvious, but I had NO CLUE that you could take a family photo in a mirror. Going to try that…thanks!
Always enjoy your family and your adventures. The penguin up close is probably my favorite though! 🙂

Vanderbilt Wife

Fun to see you in my city! (I mean, in the pictures and all.) The aquarium is so great. We’ve never been on the river cruise, though! Maybe someday … when I’m not scared my kids will jump over the edge.



What a great trip! The pictures are great and how neat is that family picture!

Tina Savasuk

So fun reading about your family outing. Our favorites were the penguins and butterflies. We were amazed at how it seemed like the penguins were socializing with us…so cool!!! I thought a butterfly was wounded because it was laying in the middle of the concrete. I gently picked it up and was just going to move it so it wouldnt’ get stepped on. As soon as I walked about 5 feet with it to the bush it flew away obviously not wounded.


We just made a last minute decision to head to Chattanooga for a few days! Thanks for this post. This helped me make the decision. If you have any other tips, feel free to pass them along! – Dana