Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN

88 River RoadGatlinburg, TN 37738
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Overview

An award-winning and top-rated aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Ripley’s® Aquarium of the Smokies offers a variety of interactive experiences and exhibits that showcase the many thousands of exotic sea creatures that call this venue home. Guests can touch real stingrays, travel along a 340-foot moving glidepath beneath a sea of sharks, paint a piece of artwork with penguins, and much more.

Good To Know

from Ashley, one of our Gatlinburg Travel Experts
  • City Parking Garage behind Ripley’s Aquarium is cash only.
  • Trolley stop in front of Aquarium.
  • Allot 2 hours for self-guided tour.
  • Evening hours are less crowded.
  • Cameras and videos allowed.
  • Open 365 days a year
  • No outside food or drinks allowed.
  • Voted America’s #1 Aquarium by TripAdvisor.
  • Family Package and combo tickets available.
  • Live animal shows and interactive experiences make for a memorable visit.

Discover More With Us

Insights from Reserve Direct's own team members

Joan B.

Loved the shark tunnel and penguin exhibit! The new Pearl Harbor exhibit is nicely done and very informative.

Chad W.

The aquarium is great, inside they have a lot of great interactive exhibits letting you, touch stingrays and jellyfish, play on a giant indoor playground, go through tubes into the penguin exhibit, and even take a conveyor belt through an underwater tunnel full of sharks, stingrays, fish, and sea turtles (this is the best part). You will also find an extensive gift shop, an exhibit area (pearl harbor when we went last), and a cafeteria inside the aquarium. Ripley’s is a mandatory stop for us when our family visits the Smokies.

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Description

from Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Voted 2017 Best U.S. Aquarium by USA Today 10Best.com, and one of the Top 5 Aquariums in the USA & the World by TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice! Explore the Amazing Aquatic World Up-Close! Marvel at 12-foot sharks, the giant sea turtle, thousands of exotic sea creatures and playful penguins swimming as you enjoy the State-of-the-Art Clear Underwater Tunnels throughout! An Ultimate Underwater Experience without being wet!

Explore the lush, unique and beautiful worlds of the Tropical Rainforest, Ocean Realm, Coral Reef, and Gallery of the Seas, and the Best Shark Exhibit in the Most Spectacular Underwater Tunnel in Shark Lagoon. Enjoy entertaining dive and feeding shows in Coral Reef, Stingray Bay and Penguin Playhouse. Pet horseshoe crabs and stingrays in the Discovery Center and Touch-A-Ray Bay. Enjoy playful penguins swimming, pop up on the penguins' private beach and get nose-to-beak in Penguin Playhouse, voted by USA Today Travel 10 Best List as one of the best places to see penguins in the world! Fun-Filled family experience and MUCH, MUCH MORE!

Visitors are invited to venture into Shark Lagoon and experience the new, indoor Glass Bottom Boat Adventure. 3 inches of glass separates visitors from 12-foot sharks that call Shark Lagoon home. Approximately 10 people per tour. Boat launches every 20 minutes. The Glass Bottom Boat is an add-on to your aquarium ticket and does not include admission to the aquarium. Visit the Glass Bottom Boat area to upgrade your adventure.

This new experience will allow you to venture into the heart of Shark Lagoon, home to over 8,500 aquatic animals representing more than 75 different species. Led by our Adventure Crew, guests will learn all about the animals within the Aquarium and what it takes to maintain the facility during each boat ride. Upgrade your visit when you come in!

Pearl Harbor Exhibit extended throughout 2017
Pearl Harbor is an interactive and educational exhibit on the history of the date which will live in infamy! See, hear, and interact throughout the entire exhibit as you go through the timeline of world events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Experience firsthand the environmental impact that continues to this day.

The Pearl Harbor exhibit features models of ships and planes, an interactive map of the attack, life-sized figure of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a crawl through replica of the USS Arizona BB-39 Forward Magazine, a theater with memorabilia from the 1940s, as well as various aquatic animals native to Hawaii and invasive species now living in Hawaii that were brought in from the Japanese ships during the attack.

Exhibits at Ripley's Aquarium Include:
  • Tropical RainForest

  • Ocean Realm

  • Systems Control

  • Coral Reef

  • Shark Lagoon

  • Discovery Center

  • Gallery of the Seas

  • Stingray Bay

  • Touch a Ray Bay

  • Penguin Playhouse

  • Brand New - Glass Bottom Boats (Additional Cost)


Open 365 days a year. Located in downtown Gatlinburg at traffic light #5.


Reserve Pigeon Forge Customer Reviews

270 Reviews
Catherine S.
Jamestown, TN
6 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Great time with the family"
April, 2017 NEW
We were hesitant to go because several of our family members can not stand to be closed in, but this for the most part was very open! Even my grandmother (77 years old and her two best friends 70 & 75) absolutely loved it. Fun for the whole family! My favorite part was the Pearl Harbor exhibit and the penguins. :)
Tip: If you order tickets online go straight to customer service :)

Was this review helpful? Yes

Reserve Pigeon Forge Customer
Lawrenceburg, KY
5 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Loved it"
April, 2017
Was a really cool place and great for kids. Me and my husband went by ourself but after seeing all they had we will be bringing our kids next time we come!

Was this review helpful? Yes

Nathaniel Davis
Covington, GA
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"My Experience"
November, 2016
The experience I had was tremendous. When we first walked in, there was a big Turtle skeleton right up above. We then walked over to the stingrays as they swimmed. They let us pet them as well. I loved how it was like a path so that there would be no congestion.

Was this review helpful? Yes

Joseph Eagan
Dothan, AL
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"amazing!"
October, 2016
This was amazing, my first aquarium so I hoped it would be. The tunnel was awesome, and exhibits leading up to it were amazing. I enjoyed the pearl harbor addition greatly. I do however wish there was more than one sea turtle, but out isn't a deal breaker at all. My girlfriend has been to many aquariums she said it was amazing too.
Tip: don't use flash in the dark out areas, bring a fully charged phone or camera, be prepared to take photo at the entrance

Was this review helpful? Yes

don wright
1 Review
"To Expensive for children 3 years old"
October, 2016
They are way to expensive for young children they don't have a lot of idea what is going on. Children up to 6 years old should be free I know I won't be going back not worth the money.
Tip: be prepared to pay for parking be prepared to walk to get to it and be prepared to shed out plentry of money.

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Julie Laney
Altoona, PA
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Fabulous place"
August, 2016
We had an absolutely fabulous time! This aquarium appeals to all age groups. This was the first visit for some in our group but was my 3rd visit. We are actually planning to visit again next year...my baby will be a little over a year then and look forward to his smiles! Thank you for a wonderful place to visit for not a lot of money!
Tip: This is a very large aquarium. Plan to be there for a few hours.

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Pamela Pillsbury
Clinton, TN
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"An Aquatic fun spot"
August, 2016
Do you want to feel like you are in the ocean world? Ripley's Aquarium lets you do just that. As you travel through you see so many different sea creatures. When you feel you need a break there is wonderful places to rest and for kids to enjoy. The many places you can "pop" your head up to be in with the fish, penquins, & really feel that you are in the ocean are so much fun. The sting ray and mermaid shows are educational and exciting. The newest exhibit where you can stand next to Truman & feel like you are in a submarine are a wonderful & fun learning experience. We really enjoyed our day.
Tip: Make sure to have cash for parking--otherwise just enjoy!

Was this review helpful? Yes

Wendy VanDyke
Scottdale, PA
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"fascinating experience"
August, 2016
We have been to the aquarium 3 times in the past year. It never gets old. Every time we go, we see something that we didn't see before. We are always looking forward to our next visit.
Tip: Have your camera ready

Was this review helpful? Yes

TripAdvisor Reviews
TripAdvisor user image
esperansst
Ridge Manor, Florida
"AMAZING!!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed May 26, 2017 NEW
We went with a few friends and we were able to pet a few diferent animals! i would def say this is a to do for sure
TripAdvisor user image
whineparty
Santa Rosa, California
"This place is huge!"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed May 26, 2017 NEW
Lots to see. Very extensive. We paid an extra $10.00 to go on the glass-bottom boat, but you really don't need to because all of the views are good.
TripAdvisor user image
Angel H
"Not worth it"
TripAdvisor user rating 3 out of 5
Reviewed May 26, 2017 NEW
The entrance is so crowded and unorganized that you can barely get in. We were shoulder-to-shoulder trying to get past the first exhibit. There weren't employees guiding people to help with congestion. So, it was crowded. Also, the exhibits were not great. Not what I would expect from an aquarium. Definitely not spending the money to go back to another Ripley's.
TripAdvisor user image
Fred P
"eight-year-old loved it"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed May 26, 2017 NEW
I took my wife and eight-year-old son and they had a really good time. They have a room dedicated to the Pearl Harbor attack and I enjoyed the history lesson with replicas of advertising from the World War II era. It's really cool to see the shark swimming overhead through the glass ceiling.
TripAdvisor user image
lynnw64
Athens, Georgia
"Must see!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed May 26, 2017 NEW
I have to admit that I thought this would be like any other aquarium and my husband was the one that encouraged me to go. He made the right call on this one. It did not disappoint. They have quite a variety of marine life but the way they are displayed is what makes this so enjoyable. The best was when you are underneath the main pool and you ride a conveyer belt that winds around. You feel like you are in the water with the sharks, stingrays and fish. This is a must see and Ripleys has discounts on tickets if you go to more than one of their attractions. Totally worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Can I leave and revisit the same day?
Sorry, the tickets are good for one-time admission to the aquarium.

How long does it take to tour the attraction?
We recommend allowing 2 hours or more to tour the aquarium.

Where can I park?
There are various parking areas nearby in Gatlinburg. There is a City owned parking garage directly behind the Aquarium. The City charges a maximum of $6 per day.

Do you have stroller rentals? Are strollers allowed?
The aquarium is stroller friendly. Strollers can be rented at guest services for $3.

Do you allow pets?
Only service animals are allowed.

Are cameras allowed?
Yes, you can take pictures and or take video to share with your friends.

Is the aquarium wheelchair accessible?
Yes it is, we also offer wheelchairs available at guest services.

Are any of the Unique Experiences included with the admission ticket?
No, that costs extra.  If you are looking to Splash with the Stingrays or participate in the Penguin Encounter or any other special tours, you can call the aquarium directly for an additional fee.