Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg

 Aquarium of the Smokies
Brings Ocean Life to the  Mountains

Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg is the most impressive attraction in a town full of fun things to do. You’ll want to take your time here, because there's so much to see.  The aquarium is home to more than 10,000 exotic sea creatures, and you can even pet some of them. The most popular exhibits here include the tunnel through Shark Lagoon, the Penguin Playhouse and the Discovery Center for kids.

Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg

What You'll See at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

There are a variety of exhibits designed to let you experience the natural environment of the animals on display:

  • Tropical Rainforest exhibits creatures like piranhas, poison dart frogs, and green iguanas, all in a lush environment, complete with a waterfall and tropical vegetation.
  • Ocean Realm features a great variety of sea creatures from around the world, both the common and the exotic.
  • Coral Reef is home to some of the most colorful and  exotic fish around.
  • Shark Lagoon is not terribly impressive when viewed from above, but once you reach the lower level, you can take a walk through the 340 foot long acrylic tunnel, where you’ll be surrounded by sharks, stingrays, sea turtles and many other creatures.  The effect is mesmerizing, and a bit dizzying.  There’s a moving walkway, so you can enjoy the view while you keep moving.  Or get off the walkway to spend a little more time taking it all in. 
  • Discovery Center is a hit with the kids. It features interactive displays where you can explore by touching, climbing, and even petting horseshoe crabs. Kids especially love the pop-up tubes that let them get right into the middle of things, which is where kids always want to be. 
  • Gallery of The Seas displays the strangest, most stunning sea creatures: seahorses, octopuses, jellies, corals and an abundance of weird and wonderful creatures.
  • Stingray Bay showcases the graceful movements of many species of rays. There’s something soothing about the way these rays glide along, and the huge tank gives you plenty of opportunity to enjoy.
  • Touch-A-Ray Bay brings you up close and personal with rays in shallow petting pools.
  • Penguin Playhouse features a clear acrylic tube you can crawl through to watch the penguins swimming underwater.  Then you can watch them waddling about on land.  Pop-up tubes get you right up close to the penguins.
  • Systems Control shows you all the bells and whistles that keep the aquarium humming along.  It’s quite an impressive undertaking.  There are even “controls” the kids can play with.

Live Shows at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

In addition to the exhibits, there are regularly scheduled live shows.  You can watch divers interacting with sharks, feeding the stingrays, or swimming among the colorful fish in the Coral Reef.  Or check out feeding time at Penguin Playhouse or Mermaids in Stingray Bay.

This aquarium is definitely one of the must-see attractions in Gatlinburg, especially if you have kids.  But don't take my word for it;  check out these reviews of Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg.

The proper name of the aquarium is Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, but people call it simply Ripley's Aquarium or the Gatlinburg aquarium.  But there's only one aquarium in Gatlinburg, and this is it!

A Quick Photo Tour of Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg

Mudskipper at Ripley's Aquarium of the SmokiesThis bug-eyed fellow is a mudskipper from the Tropical Rain Forest

Jellyfish at Ripley's Aquarium of the SmokiesWatching the jellyfish float so gracefully is an exercise in serenity.

Cuttlefish at Ripley's Aquarium in GatlinburgThis cuttlefish is one of the strange creatures in Gallery of the Seas.

Blue crab touch tank at Ripley's AquariumChecking out the Blue Crabs in the Discovery Center.

Aquarium pop-up tubeExploring a pop-up tube in the Discovery Center.

Shark tunnel at Ripleys Aquarium of the SmokiesThe tunnel through Shark Lagoon is the pride of Ripley's Aquarium.

Puffer fish at Ripleys AquariumThis cute little puffer fish can be seen in the Discovery Center.

touch a Ray Bay at Ripleys AquariumJust watching the rays go by at Touch a Ray Bay.

Yellow tropical fishThis colorful fellow is found in the Coral Reef exhibit.

snack bar at Ripley's AquariumYou can grab a quick bite to eat at the snack bar inside Ripley's Aquarium.

How to Get There

Ripley's Aquarium Gatlinburg is located at traffic light #5 on the Parkway (U.S. Highway 441), right in the center of town. You really can’t miss it; it’s huge. It’s open 365 days a year. There’s a dining area and gift shop located in the aquarium, as well as many eateries nearby. 

parking at Ripley's AquariumParking is available at this public parking garage, located next to the Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg.

You can save a few bucks by buying tickets online at :

Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg, TN

If you want to visit other attractions as well, you can get a nice discount on combo tickets.