Family Fun at Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg
Recently my family had the opportunity to visit Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The aquarium is one of several Ripley’s attractions and offers hours of family fun for everyone. There are two levels full of amazing exhibits, hands on activities, and live shows. Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg is spread out on two levels and is divided into themed exhibits highlighting the aquatic life related to those areas. You begin your journey in the Tropical Rain Forest where you discover piranhas, poisonous dart frogs and more. One of the unique fish that we discovered was the arapaima. This fish can grow up to 15 feet long and has a swimbladder that works like a lung.
Over in the Ocean Realm we spent time observing the spotted garden eel, which reminded us all of worms. There you will also find moray eels, schooling fish, and cownose sting rays. If you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of an aquarium you will want to check out the inside view of the life support systems behind this fabulous aquarium in Gatlinburg. Get hands on with the interactive displays that show how water pressure, filtration, and other systems work.
One of the places we spent the most time at was the Shark Lagoon and Underwater Tunnel. Here you can watch from under the tank as the sharks and other fish swim about. Walk thru the tunnel or step aboard the moving walkway to experience this amazing exhibit.
When you have taken in all there is to see at the Shark Lagoon, head on over to the discovery center where you can pet a horseshoe crab, touch jellyfish, and pop your head up in the peekaboo tanks. I was a little nervous about touching a jellyfish but I did it and was amazed at how smooth they really do feel.
They have an exhibit room which changes from time to time. During our visit they were featuring a Pearl Harbour exhibit. I loved that not only did it incorporate the animals in the ocean but also included a very detailed history about the event. This allowed for a great learning experience for my daughter.
After the exhibit room we headed over to stingray bay where we watched a live show featuring divers interacting with the stingrays. This is one of many live shows that take place during the day. You can also watch dives in the Shark Lagoon, witness a penguin feeding and take a marine science class.
We headed over to watch the penguins being fed next because they are my favorite animal. The penguin playhouse is not only indoors but has an area outdoors as well. Kids and adults can also crawl under the penguin exhibit and get an inside view from the peekaboo tube. Each of the penguins is named and has a tag on their wing with their name. They are color coded so you know if it is a girl or boy. If you are lucky you may even be able to see baby penguins in the penguin nursery.
If you family likes to collect pressed pennies you will also find a penny press machine just outside of the gift shop. We love pressed pennies because they are an inexpensive souvenir that won’t end up outgrown or broken. The gift shop features many unique items including pictures painted by a penguin and more.
We always love visiting aquariums because it is fun way to explore aquatic life that we don’t get to see everyday. As a mom I also love the learning that takes place as the kids discover fun facts and information along the way.
The Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg is just one of 8 Ripley’s attractions in the area that provides tons of family fun.