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.

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