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Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

From sharks and stingrays, to penguins and octopus, get close to a colorful collection of tropical sea creatures at this walk-through aquarium.

Experience a spectacular aquatic adventure at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, where 10,000 sea creatures represent over 350 species. Explore a tropical rain forest or walk through an underwater tunnel, watch live feeding shows and get face-to-face with tropical animals. Since opening in 2000, the aquarium has become one of Gatlinburg’s most popular attractions and welcomes about 1 million visitors per year.

Follow the aquarium’s walkways as they lead you between exhibits located on two floors. A major highlight is the Underwater Tunnel and Shark Lagoon. Walk through a 340-foot (104-meter) tunnel and watch as sharks, sea turtles and giant stingrays swim overhead. Spot colorful Indo-Pacific creatures, such as the clownfish, in the Coral Reef exhibit and then admire giant octopi at the Gallery of the Seas. Kids will love the interactive games and the chance to touch a live horseshoe crab in the Discovery Center.

Watch as professional divers hand feed rays in the Stingray Bay before traveling through tunnels and coming up-close to African penguins. Go to the Tropical Rainforest exhibit to see a poison dart frog and schools of piranhas. Take the opportunity to pet stingrays in the Touch a Ray Bay. Visit the aquarium’s control room to learn how the animals are kept alive.

Check the aquarium’s official website for a schedule of interactive events. Among these are swimming with stingrays, interacting with penguins and participating in an overnight camp, where kids can sleep in the Underwater Tunnel.

If you get hungry while visiting the aquarium visit the lower-floor restaurant serving fast food, snacks and drinks. There is also a gift shop selling aquatic souvenirs, art and handicrafts.  

The aquarium is easily accessible from downtown Gatlinburg. The Gatlinburg Trolley stops a short walk from the aquarium’s entrance. If arriving by car, you’ll find several pay-and-display parking lots nearby.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is open daily, including public holidays. Purchase your tickets online to receive discounted admission. Find more details, including information about family tickets, on the aquarium’s official website.


Guide to Exploring around Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies


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Glenstone Lodge $103
Glenstone Lodge

Glenstone Lodge

504 Historic Nature Trl, Gatlinburg, TN
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in the heart of Gatlinburg, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Gatlinburg Convention Center, Gatlinburg Sky Lift, and Gatlinburg Space Needle. Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum are also within 10 minutes.

    Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg $179
    Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg

    Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg

    539 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in the mountains, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Anakeesta and Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Gatlinburg Sky Lift and Gatlinburg Space Needle are also within 15 minutes.

      Gatlinburg River Inn $74
      Gatlinburg River Inn

      Gatlinburg River Inn

      324 Hemlock Street, Gatlinburg, TN
         
        2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated on a river, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg Sky Lift, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. Gatlinburg Space Needle and Gatlinburg Convention Center are also within 2 mi (3 km).

        The Park Vista - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel - Gatlinburg $153
        The Park Vista - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel - Gatlinburg

        The Park Vista - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel - Gatlinburg

        705 Cherokee Orchard Road, Gatlinburg, TN
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          This family-friendly Gatlinburg hotel is located in a national park, within a 15-minute walk of Traffic Light #6, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, and Gatlinburg Convention Center. Gatlinburg Sky Lift and Gatlinburg Space Needle are also within 1 mi (2 km).

          River Terrace Resort & Convention Center $79
          River Terrace Resort & Convention Center

          River Terrace Resort & Convention Center

          240 River Road, Gatlinburg, TN
             
            2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Gatlinburg, this resort is within a 5-minute walk of Mysterious Mansion and Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Gatlinburg Sky Lift and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum are also within 10 minutes.

            Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Gatlinburg, TN $105
            Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Gatlinburg, TN

            Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Gatlinburg, TN

            421 Reagan Lane, Gatlinburg, TN
               
              2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in the heart of Gatlinburg, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Gatlinburg Ziplines, Gatlinburg Sky Lift, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. Gatlinburg Convention Center and Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery are also within 10 minutes.

              Sidney James Mountain Lodge $76
              Sidney James Mountain Lodge

              Sidney James Mountain Lodge

              610 Historic Nature Trl, Gatlinburg, TN
                 
                2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in the heart of Gatlinburg, this motel is within a 15-minute walk of Gatlinburg Space Needle and Gatlinburg Sky Lift. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and Dollywood are also within 9 mi (15 km).

                Howard Johnson by Wyndham Downtown Gatlinburg $67
                Howard Johnson by Wyndham Downtown Gatlinburg

                Howard Johnson by Wyndham Downtown Gatlinburg

                242 Bishop Lane, Gatlinburg, TN
                   
                  2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in a national park, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Traffic Light #6 and Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Gatlinburg Sky Lift and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum are also within 10 minutes.