Search here...
Day Trips

Ripley’s Aquarium in the Smokies – Gatlinburg, TN

Sharing is caring!

If you haven’t checked out my list of the Top 20 Attractions that you do NOT want to miss on your next visit to the Smoky Mountains, you should.  That’s because today’s post is all about one that made the list!

One of the attractions that you definitely don’t want to miss is the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies – ask anyone who’s ever visited.  It’s definitely a Must See in the Smoky Mountains.


You may think that if you’ve seen one aquarium, you’ve seen them all… but, let me show you how our Smoky Mountains Aquarium stands out!  This aquarium is nestled right in the Smoky Mountains.  To get there, you’ll go through the lovely Smoky Mountain Forest from Pigeon Forge into Gatlinburg, TN!


The Aquarium is broken down into a few different locations – Tropical Rainforest, Ocean Realm, Shark Lagoon, Penguin Playhouse… and on and on.  Fish and Sea Life are grouped with how they would be found in their natural habitats which creates a great learning experience for all guests – young and old!


There are also numerous amounts of Hand On Learning opportunities in the Aquarium.  There’s a whole section of a play area when you’re at about the halfway point of your tour through the Aquarium and it’s a great place for the little ones to walk around and play to get some energy out.

But perhaps the most famous and popular part of the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is the Shark Lagoon!


The Shark Lagoon actually brings you beneath and right IN the shark tanks.  It’s a 340 foot long glide path {the floor moves you through the lagoon} where you’ll see sharks, sawfish, eels, sting rays, and even a giant sea turtle!


While we were there, they were cleaning the glass on the water side, so there were 3 divers in with the sharks.  One cleaning the glass and the other 2 making sure the sharks didn’t get too close!  It was an amazing thing to see!

Although there is so much more than sharks to see at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, it’s definitely a unique experience to see them so close.  It really makes everyone stop and look in “awe” and reminds you just how vast our oceans are!

And perhaps one of Sophia’s favorite parts of the Aquarium right now is the special Dinosaur Exhibit!  The Aquarium changes out this exhibit every so often throughout the year, but right now it’s When the Giants Ruled and features large robotic dinosaurs that look so real!

There are also several hands-on opportunities in this area, including the Fossil Digging Platform.  Sophia could have literally stayed there all day!


A few other areas that I haven’t mentioned that are wonderful in the Aquarium are the Sting Ray Bay – where you can actually touch a sting ray as they swim by!  There is also an area where you can touch and pick up Horseshoe Crabs.  Having so many hands on activities is what makes this aquarium such a hit with all ages, I think!

One of the last areas of the Ripley’s Aquarium is the Penguin Playhouse.  The exhibit goes both indoors and outdoors which is super unique and you can actually crawl through a tunnel so you’re under the water and right IN the penguin habitat!

So, if you’re in the area and looking for something to do this Holiday weekend OR planning a future trip to the Smoky Mountains, be sure to include the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies on your To-Do List!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *