This aquarium is the sparkling gem of Gatlinburg. Beautiful inside and out, and uniquely crafted to showcase the amazing array of aquatic life that lives there, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is simply not to be skipped!
Don’t let the notion that you’ve seen plenty of aquariums cause you to miss what I guarantee you will remember as one of the highlights of your stay in the Smokies. I’d been meaning to go for years and am now considering a family pass!
The absolute high point of my visit had to be taking the 340-foot-long glidepath (think moving sidewalk) through a glass tunnel with sharks and other sea creatures swimming by overhead and beside me. I was close enough to see the impressive teeth, and experience the smooth gliding movements of these magnificent creatures, in a safe environment. Can’t say I didn’t get chills, though! In addition to huge sharks, there was a green sea turtle, large stingrays billowing by, sawfish scooting past and many other interesting creatures!
“Touch a Ray Bay,” an indoor lagoon environment where visitors can get up close and personal, even petting the stingrays if they want to, was another very interesting feature of this aquarium. It injected another dimension of adventure to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies experience. And be sure get hands-on at their brand-new exhibit, “Touch a Jellyfish!” Both are such fun and educational experiences.
There were clownfish and other gorgeous, brightly painted fish like the blue tang, exotic-looking jellyfish and darling penguins. Everywhere we turned we were met with something interesting and/or very beautiful.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies usually has a traveling special exhibit and this summer’s is “Pearl Harbor.” This special interactive museum gallery is both educational and fun. A Dive Show, featuring an employee in diving gear feeding the sea creatures, rounded out a very exciting and interesting visit. Another gold medal for a Gatlinburg venue! For more info, visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
Laurie Crater Battles is a professional journalist, writer, mom, wife, hiker, biker, coffee and animal lover who makes her home in Farragut, TN.