Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg

Our stop at Ripley’s Aquarium was truly a memorable experience, no wonder it is one of the most visited aquariums in the country.  This $70 million attraction houses sea life from each of the world’s major oceans. Some of the most popular exhibits show off octopuses, jellyfish, piranhas, weedy-looking sea dragons, all kinds of colorful coral reef critters and the absolutely prehistoric-looking Japanese spider crab. In two huge tanks, Coral Reef and Stingray Bay, scuba divers hand feed marine creatures during regular dive shows. The hands-down highlight was navigating Shark Lagoon via a 340-foot moving walkway through one of the world’s longest underwater acrylic tunnels. Here, several species of sharks live alongside sawfish, eels, and even sea turtles, giving us an amazing view and a real thrill as the sharks glide directly over your head.  As a certified scuba diver, I felt like I was actually diving with them as they swam all around me. Penguin Playhouse, the aquarium’s newest section, is an interactive exhibit that invites visitors to crawl through still more acrylic tunnels to explore a colony of playful African Blackfooted penguins. If that’s not quite close enough for your kids, they can pet stingrays at Touch-a-Ray Bay and hold horseshoe crabs at the Discovery Center. Wow, what an amazing experience!  Ripley’s Aquarium is definitely more than just an Aquarium, it’s a lifetime experience, one that you will never forget!  Open 365 days a year and from Memorial – Labor Day – Mon-Thur: 9:00am to 10:00pm – Fri-Sun: 9:00am to 11:00pm for more information.