Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Having Fun at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg, TN @ripleys @gatlinburg #gatlinburg #aquarium

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
For Spring Break, we headed down to Gatlinburg for a week of fun in the Great Smoky Mountains.  One stop we made was at the Ripley's Aquarium in the Smokies.

This is an amazing aquarium and now I know why it has been rated "excellent" on Trip Advisor.  This aquarium has 10,000 exotic sea creatures (and I mean exotic--see photos below) and more than 350 individual species.  In fact, there are more fish in the aquarium than there are people living in Gatlinburg!

Look up and be amazed by the skeletons of mammoth creatures of the sea!  Pass through a tropical rainforest and learn about the habitat.  Walk in a tunnel with 12-foot sharks and other sea creatures (without getting wet) swimming overhead.  Pop in and get up close with the penguins!  Enjoy the beautiful coral reefs.  And of course, experience hands-on encounters such as holding a horseshoe crab or touching a sting ray.  Stop in and catch a marine science program at no extra cost.  Learn  what it takes to run an aquarium like this and get a sneak peek at how it all works!  You can do all this and more at the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Here is a quick video of some amazing sites we took in:

This aquarium is fabulous!  I was really surprised the length of time you could spend in the underwater tunnel in Shark Lagoon.  It is a moving sidewalk that slowly winds through the tunnel.  You do have the option to step off if you wanted to, but realistically, staying on provides ample time to see it all.

I think my pictures say it all so I have included quite a few for you to get the idea of how amazing this aquarium is!

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, poisonous frogs
Poisonous frogs of the rainforest

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Interesting sea life
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Fish and sharks
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Exploring in Discovery Center
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
More exploring in Discover Center and popping in with the Penguins!
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, jellyfish, coral
Fascinating sea life and coral reefs
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Touching sting rays in Touch-a-Ray Bay
My children loved the entire aquarium, especially various hand-on exhibits and activities.  They really enjoyed touching and learning about the horseshoe crab and popping in with the penguins.  And of course, touching the sting rays in Touch-a-Ray Bay was a wonderful experience!

This aquarium is definitely worth the drive, from wherever you are coming from.  I know I plan to go back again!

Tips and Things to Know Before You Go
  • The best time to go to avoid crowds is around 4:30 pm any day.  We went at 4pm and the crowds weren't bad at all.
  • Concessions are available at the Feeding Frenzy inside the Aquarium.  Combo meals for $8.99, Children's meals $6.00, 14" pizza $14.99.
  • Lockers are available.
  • There is a play area for younger children to explore in the Discovery Center.
  • Allow at least 2 hours to explore the aquarium, but this could be longer depending upon crowds.
  • Can't reach a sting ray in Touch-a-Ray Bay?  Hang out--a diver will be around to feed the rays, making sure everyone gets a touch.  Warning, you might get splashed!
  • You can purchase combo tickets with other Gatlinburg attractions for discounted savings or look in area coupon books to get a $ off coupon.  You can also purchase tickets online to avoid standing in line when you get there.  I have also seen online discounted tickets from Smoky Mountain Money Savers, but can't speak for them because I have never used them. 
  • There is no parking at the Aquarium.  There are public parking lots within a few blocks, so plan on walking a bit to get to the Aquarium.  Average parking prices are $5.  It is on a Trolley Stop, also.  
Hours: OPEN DAILY 365 Day a Year

January – February: Mon-Thurs 9am to 8pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 10pm
March – Memorial Day: Mon-Thurs 9am to 9pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 10pm
Memorial – Labor Day: Mon-Thurs 9am to 10pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 11pm

Labor Day – New Year’s Day: Mon-Thurs 9am to 9pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 10pm
Adult — from $21.99
Child (3-11) — from $13.99
Children 2 & under — FREE

Disclosure:  I was provided complimentary tickets to facilitate this review.  As always, this review contains my honest opinions.


Samantha said...

we love ripleys! such a fun place for families to visit

Hobbies on a Budget said...

We got to visit there a few years ago and absolutely loved it!!! Beautiful pictures!!! Loved seeing the girls fun!

Sharon Martin said...

Looks like a fantastic time was had by all, loved your pictures, brilliant.

Remus said...

It looks like you had a great time! I will have to add this to my list of places I want to visit...

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