Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

ripleys-aquariumThere are numerous attractions in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, both indoor and outdoor. From sepia-toned photos of saloon girls and bandits to 3D mini golf, visitors are sure to find something to enjoy about this beautiful city. One way to avoid the packed streets and summer heat (while also scoring some free parking) is to visit one of the main Gatlinburg attractions: Ripley’s® Aquarium of the Smokies®. This is an activity sure to please both adults and children alike, as it offers a wide variety of exhibits and activities geared towards all age groups.

There is so much to do at the Aquarium that it would be wise to block aside a good portion of the day just for this activity. To avoid having to wait in line out in the hot Gatlinburg weather for tickets, guests can purchase them online. When ordering tickets online, it is also possible to bundle the Aquarium with other fun Gatlinburg attractions for some really great deals.

Once inside, guests should make sure to get a map and show schedule in order to plan out the day. Maps are also available on the Aquarium’s website, as well as online tours with guest photos and videos of the main areas. Below are just a few of the highlights that Ripley’s® Aquarium of the Smokies has to offer.

Shark Lagoon. This 340-foot-long underground tunnel features a slow-moving path that guides visitors through 180 degrees of underwater wildlife, including different types of sharks, sea turtles, moray eels, and much more. Guests will feel as though they were underwater, floating along with the ocean life!

Systems Control. The weather outside might be unpredictable, but the Aquarium must regulate each species’ habitat to ensure their wellbeing. Those more interested in gadgets than marine life can check out the Systems Control area, where guests can have a look at the systems that are responsible for filtering more water per day than the entire city of Gatlinburg.

Discovery Center. This kid-friendly area features loads of fun activities for the little ones, including an area to touch live horseshoe crabs, interactive puzzles and quizzes to test sea-life knowledge, and plenty of great photo ops for mom and dad.

Penguin Playhouse. These penguins might not tap dance or sing old power ballads, but it’s still pretty remarkable how up close and personal Aquarium visitors can get with these warm water penguins. Guests can actually crawl through tunnels and observe these cool birds “flying” underwater.


There are so many more exhibits to see at the Aquarium, as well as the numerous activities offered for groups, schools, and special events. There are also regularly scheduled live shows (Shark Lagoon Dive, Penguin Feeding, Stingray Bay Dive, Marine Science Class, and Coral Reef Dive). In addition to all of this, the Aquarium boasts an eatery called The Feeding Frenzy, a gift shop rife with awesome items to commemorate your visit, and artwork created by Ripley’s® own penguins. Ripley’s® Aquarium of the Smokies® is sure to be a family experience to remember!

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