Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Disclosure: From Downriver To Downright Country received complimentary ticket passes in order to conduct a review, no monetary compensation was provided unless noted otherwise. All opinions are 100% my own. 


My family and I were fortunate enough to travel to the Great Smoky Mountains to visit the Ripley’s attractions located in the Smokies.

This was a very long, fun filled day that I would do over and over again! First, we visited the Ripley’s Aquarium.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies  has 10,000 exotic sea creatures are comprised of more than 350 individual species.

Although Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is hundreds of miles from the ocean, the scenic beauty and the abundance of water all around makes the town of Gatlinburg a “natural” location for a world-class aquarium, voted America’s #1 aquarium by TripAdvisor!

I took so many pictures, I wish I could share them all with you but for now I’ll just share some!

My family’s favorite at the Aquarium was the Shark Lagoon. It was such a wonderful, magical experience. I can’t express how happy my kids were to be so close to the fish, and sharks!


This is a little video my husband took walking through the lagoon. Don’t mind the shark sound effects he was making while filming (lol).

My daughters favorite throughout the whole aquarium was this guy below. The Green Sea turtle. She is crazy about turtles and luckily this big guy decided to show up at the end of walk through.


The Shark Lagoon was set up amazingly. Everything about it, from the clarity of viewing the beautiful sea creatures, to the convenient, long moving walkway that glides you through the whole exhibit. I loved that we were not rushed through this exhibit, we got to see all the creatures face to face and it was a great experience!

There is so much to do and experience at the Aquarium! I love all of the hands on activities they have for kids (and adults because I was pretty excited about these things too).


They have a Discovery Center area where the kids can touch and see a giant clam that opens and closes. Also an underwater diver that the kids can take a picture with and a huge ship wheel that turns round and around. Its a fun little area and very interactive!


You can touch and pick up the horseshoe crabs. My children were afraid of this but they enjoyed watching their daddy interact with the crabs.


They also had these smaller tanks that kids and their parents both could crawl under and poke our heads up into the glass. It was like being in the center of tank with the fish. All of the tanks had different fish. My son really enjoyed this one with the puffer fish. You can see the smirk on his little face. He didn’t want to get out!


The Gallery of the Seas exhibit was AMAZING! I am being a little dramatic about this because jellyfish are my absolute favorite creatures of the sea! This exhibit has all of the beautiful, strange and deadly creatures of the sea such as Jellies, Octopus, and Cuttlefish.

I also got this great video of these gorgeous creatures!

They give you the opportunity to touch the jellyfish! The man at this exhibit was extremely friendly and told us some interesting facts and answered any questions we had about the jellyfish.

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Another great experience that the Aquarium offers is the Live Shows! We almost missed this one, but we were able to catch the Coral Reef Dive show. My daughter especially loved it because they were introducing the different species of fish in the tank with the diver and as they were describing the fish they would ask the audience if you could find the fish they were talking about. It was like a fun game. Very interactive.


Lastly, we visited the Penguin Playhouse! You can view the penguins from outside of their habitat and then you can get even closer to them by crawling inside of an underwater tunnel and get up close and personal while watching them swim all around you! As you make your way through the tunnel you poke your head up and you’re right in the middle of the penguins private beach and you can see them nose to beak! These guys are adorable and my kids and I were both so grateful for the opportunity to see them so close!



The fun didn’t stop after the Aquarium, because Ripley’s has 7 other attractions here in the Smokies to visit as well.

Read about our other visits through the Ripley’s attractions on the links below!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium

Ripley’s World Records & Ripley’s Moving Theater

19 thoughts on “Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

  1. I visited the Ripley’s Museum in St. Augustine and it was so cool. I can only imagine how cool their aquarium is. I’d love to check it out sometime!!

  2. I love the experience of the Ripley’s Aquarium because there is so much to do and it is so much fun for the kids and adults too.
    So many hands on activities and live shows too. I love how much you and your family can have while having and educational experience too!

  3. Wow! Awesome, much better than the Baltimore Aquarium. Looks like your family has a great time. I too, love sea turtles, they’re my favorite!

  4. I’ve visited the Ripley’s Aquarium in the Smokies a few years back and it is certainly a great aquarium! Seeing your review and all your pictures reminds me of how great it would be to go again!

  5. We actually just vistied the Ripleys aquarium of the Smokies just this past summer! We love it! Plus they have great discounts for homeschoolers! Only $7.00 per person!

  6. You know with Ripley in the name it’s going to be good. Id love for my grand kids to go through the tunnel pictured above. They would enjoy it.

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