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RIpley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is one of the top aquariums in the country, and it’s not hard to see why! When you visit, you’ll have the opportunity to see thousands of your favorite aquatic animals. Not only will you get to see them, but you can interact with some of them too! The Gatlinburg aquarium offers a number of unique experiences that allow you to get up close and personal with the animals. We’ve put together a guide of 5 unique experiences at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies you have to try:
1. Glass Bottom Boat Adventure
The Glass Bottom Boat Adventure allows you to explore Shark Lagoon in a whole new way. You’ll venture into the heart of Shark Lagoon in a glass bottom boat, just 3 inches of glass separating you from the 12-foot sharks in the lagoon. Shark Lagoon is home to more than 8,500 aquatic animals, and you can see them all up close as they swim below you. During the adventure, you’ll get to learn all about the animals in Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and what it takes to maintain the facility.
2. Splash with Stingrays
For more interaction with the animals, try the Splash with Stingrays adventure! This unique experience takes you into Touch-A-Ray Bay, where you will actually get into the water with the stingrays. This experience is available Memorial Day through Labor Day and includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium and a souvenir T-shirt. If you don’t want to splash with the stingrays, you can still touch them and get up close at the shallow end of the tank.
3. Penguin Encounter
The Penguin Encounter is one of the most popular experiences at the aquarium. With the Penguin Encounter, you’ll come face-to-beak with the playful penguins in their indoor/outdoor habitat. You’ll get to learn about the penguins from an aquarium staff member, pet a penguin, and get a souvenir photo with a penguin! You can also add on the Penguin Painting Experience, where you can watch an African penguin put its signature footprints on canvas and take the painting home.
The sleepovers at Ripley’s Aquarium are perfect for both groups and families visiting the Smoky Mountains! This experience is available throughout the year and allows you to see what it’s like to spend the night in the aquarium. You can try the Sleep with the Sharks experience, which includes a dive show, scavenger hunt, and late night activity. Or, you can have a PJ Party with the Penguins and experience a dive show, scavenger hunt, late night activity, and night spent in the Penguin Playhouse!
5. Turtle Time
Have you ever wanted to feed a sea turtle? Now’s your chance! Turtle Time gives visitors the opportunity to feed Sally the Sea Turtle and get a behind-the-scenes look at the aquarium. You’ll get to feed Sally lettuce whenever possible, take a tour of the husbandry department in the aquarium, and get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the training sessions for Sally.
More About Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a can’t-miss attraction in Gatlinburg. You’ll love being able to interact with your favorite aquatic animals and enjoy a family-friendly experience on your vacation. Whether you’re walking through an underwater tunnel, spending time in the Discovery Center, or trying one of the unique experiences, you’re guaranteed to have a great time at the Gatlinburg aquarium. Get your tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium through Visit My Smokies and save $2 on admission!