The planned highlight of our adventure to the Great Smokey Mountains was a visit to the aquarium. None of the kids had ever been before. We spent a month beforehand watching videos and reading books and discovering all sorts of wonderful things about life beneath the sea. And all our preparation was worth it at the wonder of this beautiful place!
The kids still talk about seeing the sharks. I even got to touch one! With my hand! Zoe is still blown away at the very thought of it (she was too scared at the moment to do it herself, to her everlasting 4 year old regret.)
Jed loved the South American penguins. They were absolutely darling, and there were clear tubes where the kids could go out and watch/play right with the penguins above and below the water.
My one goal for the visit was to see the giant sea turtle. The first time through the museum, we didn't see him and Jed and I were crushed. We had to go make another round through the underground tubes, but it was so worth it because the sea turtle came right up to us, nose to nose through the glass, looked at us with his wise old friendly eyes, and our hearts nigh exploded from joy and excitement. That one visit made the whole trip worthwhile.