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Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg

3 Fun Activities at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Are you curious about popular attractions in the Smoky Mountain area? Do you love the ocean and learning about marine life? If you answered “yes” to one or both of these questions, let us tell you about the perfect attraction, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg. It was voted “Best Aquarium in North America” by USA Today! Learn more about all that it has to offer by exploring this list of 3 fun activities at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies:

1. Glass Bottom Boat Adventure

Sally the Sea Turtle at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in GatlinburgA ride on the Glass Bottom Boat Adventure is one of the fun things to do at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. The view at your feet is a marine ecosystem of over 8,500 aquatic animals representing more than 75 different species. They are from both the Atlantic and Caribbean reefs. A mere 3 inches of glass separates you from huge 12-foot sharks. Other sights include a rainbow of colorful smaller fish and various sea plants. Keep an eye out for the resident green sea turtle, Sally, as well! If you have any questions about what you’re seeing, the Adventure Crew is on board to help. They will also tell you about everything that goes into maintaining the aquarium!  

2. The Penguin Playhouse 

One of the highlights of this Gatlinburg attraction is that it has one of the best penguin exhibits in the world, the Penguin Playhouse. Admire the unique spot patterns on the penguins’ bodies while watching them swim and play. Kids will love crawling through the tunnels that make them feel like they are in the penguin habitat. Come to the Penguin Encounter and watch these funny creatures up close. You can also get a unique souvenir, as you can get a picture with a live penguin. Or, join the Penguin Painting Experience to see these creatures demonstrate a special talent. That is, painting with their feet! Even if you don’t get to experience Penguin Painting, their paintings are available for purchase in the aquarium’s gift shop. 

3. Touch A Ray Bay and Other Fun Activities 

Stingrays in touch tankIf you want more close encounters with marine life, you should also visit Touch A Ray Bay. As the name implies, visitors can feel the smooth backs of stingrays as they gracefully glide through the water. The soft skin is called cartilage, and humans have it on their ears and nose. While experiencing this exhibit, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to worry about being stung since these stingrays don’t have their pointy barbs. Besides their smooth skin, other unique features on a stingray include the grinding plates in their mouths that act as teeth. Their food sources include shrimp and moderately sized fish. Stingrays find their food by using the hairlike cells in their inner ears that detect vibrations. Other fun activities at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies include the Live Dive shows during which the staff will go behind the glass and teach visitors about the animals. There are also sleepover events where visitors can explore the aquarium after hours.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies! If you need ideas for even more vacation activities, explore this list of 4 fun things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!