Family Adventures at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

If you are looking for something to do in Gatlinburg that the whole family will enjoy, then check out Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies!

I’ve always enjoyed traveling. I believe it’s one of the best ways to learn, grow, and make amazing memories. I’ve shared my love for traveling with my kids and I enjoy being able to continue to make memories with them as adults when we travel. Travel looks a little different now that they are older since some of them have kids of their own. However, we are enjoying this new multi-generational travel style!

Check out some of the reasons that we love visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies when we are in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!

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First, where’s it located?? Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is located at Stoplight #6 in Gatlinburg.

Parking is available at the city parking garage behind the aquarium for $10 and at other locations throughout the strip in Gatlinburg for anywhere between $10 and $20.

You can also park at the Gatlinburg Visitor’s Center and ride the trolley into Gatlinburg. The trolley is free most of the year.

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Next, how much does it cost? Individual aquarium tickets are available at the aquarium. Prices are as follows:

  • Adults: $39.99
  • Children age 6-11: $24.99
  • Children age 2-5: $9.99
  • Little ones under age 2: FREE

Combination tickets are also available if you would like to do more than one of the additional Ripley’s activities in Gatlinburg, such as the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum.

You can also follow this link to save 25% off your tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies!

Here are all the activities that are included with your aquarium ticket!

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So, what is there to see?

First and foremost, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is an aquarium. There is a variety of marine life to see throughout the various exhibits, so there is definitely something for everyone!

There is a variety of fish throughout the facility, some in very small tanks and some in very large tanks.

Jellyfish are one of the many beautiful and amazing creatures at the aquarium. I love how the opening to the tank is at a level that allows everyone to see those unique creatures!

Most importantly, we can’t forget about my grandson’s favorite…Sharks! The sharks are located in the very large tank that you are able to walk under. This allows you to see sharks swimming on both sides of you and above you, like in the picture below!

For me, the best sea life is the ones that they find unexpectedly! I love how there are tanks located at a level that little ones can easily explore!

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Family Fun

Like I said earlier, part of the reason that I love to travel is because of all of the new experiences we get to do and the memories we get to make with my family. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is one of those attractions we enjoy visiting over and over again because of all they have to offer!

Tunnel through the Aquarium

One of my personal favorites is the tunnel under the aquarium! There is a walking path, as well as a moving sidewalk you can ride through!

I love the fact that you can see the animals on both sides and above you! The moving sidewalk is an added bonus for me, because it’s like a mini-theme park ride!

Here’s what the tunnel looks like from above! I enjoy the fact that you can see the tunnel from the upper level. However, it looks much smaller when you are viewing it from this direction!

Touch Pools

Touch pools are another of my favorites!

You have the opportunity to touch sting rays in this portion of the aquarium. I say opportunity because it’s not a guarantee. The sting rays have to choose to swim close to the edge so you can reach them. Unfortunately for us, the sting rays were tired of humans by the time we visited that today, so no touching for us.

Here’s a picture from below the touch pool.


We definitely can’t forget the penguins! They have their own section towards the end of the aquarium route!

There is even a tube you can crawl through that allows you to see inside the penguin exhibit!

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Special Areas for the Kids

Next, let’s focus on all that Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has for the kids!


I love the fact that there is an indoor playground. This is located about halfway through the aquarium route. It’s a great option to allow kids to run off some of their extra energy before continuing through the exhibits.

what is there to do in the Smokies with kids

Finding Nemo and Friends

Besides the penguin exhibit, there are other exhibits that allow the kids to crawl under and see what they look like from the inside!

This is probably my favorite exhibit that allows the kids a look inside because it is so colorful and it has so many fish!

My grandkids definitely enjoyed this exhibit as well! We had a slightly challenging time getting them back out again to continue exploring.

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Curious Creatures

The Curious Creatures exhibit is an additional exhibit that offers more than just marine life! It’s a taste of what Ripley’s Believe It or Not has to offer!

is Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies worth a visit

It’s definitely an area that entertains teens and adults with all of the interesting facts and unique adventures of Robert Ripley!

Though, there is plenty for the kids to enjoy too!

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And, we saved the best for last…

The best part is the memories that we can make as a family!

There’s the excitement of new adventures!

The teachable moments and educational opportunities offered.

Plus, it’s just a good opportunity to spend time with each other and enjoy the company!

There are endless adventures, unique marine life, and tons of family fun at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee! We enjoyed this visit and we can’t wait to go back again in the future!

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