Sharks in the mountains, A review of Ripleys Aquarium of the Smokies in Tennessee

RIPLEY'S AQUARIUM OF THE SMOKIES IN GATLINBURG

An aquarium in the Smokies? 

An aquarium in the Smokies? 

When you think Gatlinburg, you think

  • mountains,
  • chalets,
  • busy streets lined with shops,
  • SHARKS AND PENGUINS?
Menacing or cute? 

Menacing or cute? 

Not quite!

It was kind of a shock to find this aquarium nestled in the mountains beside a busy Gatlinburg street. It left me wondering--what could possibly be in that building in the mountains?

Goldfish? Is this a scam? Is it worth the money?

Look out behind you! 

Look out behind you! 

Overview

The aquarium is really a surprise at every turn. It's nicely laid out with space to read about the animals, to explore touch tanks, and to view impressive exhibits. The aquarium consists of an underwater shark experience, sting rays, penguins, jellyfish, and even rats! (You just have to see the exhibit to believe it. It is Ripley's after all!)

Yes, they're real! 

Yes, they're real! 

Pin this image to your travel ideas board! 

Pin this image to your travel ideas board! 

Highlights

Inside the shark tunnel. 

Inside the shark tunnel. 

The whole family enjoyed the shark exhibit. As you stand on the moving sidewalk, you get a provocative view of the underbellies of the sharks swimming above. Who needs to actually swim with sharks? This was just as good, and quite a bit safer! Looking eyeball to eyeball with a five foot shark, that was one of the memories my five year old won't ever forget. 

Crawl in the tank and see the fish up close! 

Crawl in the tank and see the fish up close! 

My six year old daughter's highlight was the mermaid show. During different seasons, the aquarium features mermaids dancing (well, ok, splashing and flipping their tail to music) and swimming in the fish tank. Because this is seasonal, you may want to ask about this before booking a ticket.

Ariel?! Is that you! ?

Ariel?! Is that you! ?

Tips

  1. Rest your weary feet, near the end of the aquarium tour, at the restaurant overlooking the sting ray exhibit. The kids will be mesmerized. And you can feed your hungry crew!
  2. If you feel like splurging, you can book a private penguin encounter!
  3. Park in the lot immediately behind the aquarium. You will need cash upon exiting the lot.
Look at that little guy! How could you resist?! 

Look at that little guy! How could you resist?!