Home » Blog » Gatlinburg Attractions » Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in the Running for Best Aquarium in the Country
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg with flowers in front

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in the Running for Best Aquarium in the Country

Once again, your favorite Gatlinburg aquarium was nominated for USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards! The votes are in, and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies earned the title of second-best aquarium in the country. The popular attraction won the category in 2019 and 2017, and got second place in 2018. Find out more about what makes Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies one of the best aquariums in the country.

USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards

ripley's aquarium of the smokiesRipley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg was nominated once again for a 10Best Readers’ Choice Award! Our favorite aquarium won the title of Best Aquarium in the Country before, but unfortunately got second place this year. The aquarium that took the top spot was the Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri. The same aquarium took the top spot in 2018 too. Although we may be biased, we still think Ripley’s Aquarium is the best in the country!

You can view the full list of winners here.

4 Reasons Ripley’s Aquarium in the Best Aquarium in the Country

Want to know why you should vote Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies as the best aquarium in the country? Here are just 4 of the many reasons:

1. Unique Experiences

Penguin Playhouse at Ripley's Aquarium in GatlinburgOne thing that makes the Gatlinburg aquarium special is the unique experiences it offers. Visitors have the chance to interact with some of their favorite aquatic animals. Enjoy the Glass Bottom Boat Adventure and ride into the heart of Shark Lagoon, with just 3 inches of glass separating you from the sharks that call the lagoon home! You can also hop in the tank with stingrays and go for a swim, or feed Sally the sea turtle. One of the most popular unique experiences is the Penguin Encounter, where you can meet and interact with the penguins in the aquarium. You’ll even get a souvenir photo with one to take back home with you! Other experiences include touching jellyfish, having sleepovers in the aquarium, and behind-the-scenes tours of the attraction.

2. All Your Favorite Aquatic Animals

Ripley’s Aquarium is home to over 350 species. When you visit, you can see sharks, stingrays, eels, jellyfish, penguins, a sea turtle, and more. Of course, there are so many different fish species too! Some of the fish you’ll find in the aquarium are blue tang, clownfish and butterflyfish. The Gatlinburg Aquarium also has a Tropical Rainforest section, where you can find poisonous dart frogs!

3. Fun Educational Opportunities

moon jellyfish in an aquariumIn addition to unique experiences, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has fun educational opportunities as well. Visit the Discovery Center, where kids will love learning about sea life through hands-on activities. Test your knowledge by solving puzzles, and touch moon jellies and horseshoe crabs! Both kids and adults will have fun learning in the Discovery Center.

4. Certified Autism Center

In 2019, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies became a Certified Autism Center. This recognition means that the aquarium is committed to ensuring that guests with autism and sensory sensitivities have the best experience when they visit. To earn the designation, the aquarium staff completed autism sensitivity and awareness training to learn how to communicate with guests with sensory needs. They also implemented Sensory Friendly Nights, which provide a quieter environment for guests. Each year, there is an Autism Family Day at the aquarium, where the attraction opens early, all the background music is turned off, and there’s a special Quiet Room for guests.

We’ve listed just some of the many reasons we think Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is the best aquarium in the country. Before you plan your trip to the Gatlinburg aquarium, learn more about what you can do there!