Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg
September 15, 2023

If you’re looking for more popular things to do in the Smoky Mountain area, come to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. This attraction was voted “Best Aquarium in North America” by USA Today. It is conveniently located in downtown Gatlinburg, so it is easy to get to when you stay at one of our Gatlinburg cabins! Find out more by exploring this list of 3 fun exhibits at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies:

1. Glass Bottom Boat

shark at ripley's aquarium of the smokies

One great exhibit at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is the Glass Bottom Boat located in Shark Lagoon. This area is home to more than 8,500 aquatic animals from the Atlantic and Caribbean reefs, representing over 75 different species. This unique experience puts them all right at your feet. Look down at all the sea plants and watch as colorful schools of fish swim about. You may even catch a glimpse of some giant sharks. Some of the species that live here include the Sand Tiger Shark. They can be up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 400 pounds. Their size makes them the largest shark at the aquarium. Additionally, see if you can spot Sally, the aquarium’s resident sea turtle. During the ride, the Adventure Crew will be on board to tell you about the animals and answer any questions. They also educate visitors on everything that goes into maintaining the aquarium.

2. Penguin Playhouse

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is also home to the Penguin Playhouse, one of the best penguin exhibits in the world! There are over 18 different species of penguins worldwide, and you’ll get to see some of them waddle about as you crawl through the tunnels of the Penguin Playhouse. Each of these funny creatures has its own spot pattern, just as we have our own unique fingerprints. If you want an even more immersive experience, attend the Penguin Encounter! Watch as the penguins create works of art using their feet. You’ll get to help create a painting to take home with you. You can also get a photo with a live penguin. If you can’t wait to see them, watch the penguins right now on the aquarium’s Live Penguin Cam!

3. Touch a Ray Bay and More

stingray at ripley's aquarium of the smokies

If you want more immersive experiences at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, come to Touch a Ray Bay. You won’t have to worry about them stinging you as you put your hand out and feel their smooth backs as they glide along the water. A stingray’s back is soft because it is made out of cartilage. This is similar to the skin on your nose and ears. Other fun things to do at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies include watching the Live Dive shows, where the staff goes behind the glass and interacts with the animals. There are also sleepover events where visitors can stay at the aquarium overnight.

We hope you go and experience all of these fun exhibits at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies! If you’re curious about more attractions in the area, check out this list of interesting museums in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!