Ripley's Aquarium Has Gallons Of Fun This Summer

By Leif Palmer
Posted on June 5, 2019

See an example of the coral reef close up.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in downtown Gatlinburg has been around for about 20 years now. And it's still one of the top tourist attractions in the Smokies, providing guests of all ages with a fascinating underwater look at the mysterious realm of the world's oceans. The aquarium's self-guided tour takes you through multiple themed exhibit areas where you'll see everything from octopi to barracuda to eels. You can actually pet stingrays and even take a journey through the see-through tunnel running under Shark Lagoon, possibly coming face to face with several species of these intimidating predators of the sea.

But this summer, the aquarium is also offering several special exhibits and unique programs to complement their usual self-guided tour. This week, we'll provide a quick overview of what's in store if you choose Ripley's Aquarium as a vacation stop this year.


Through Labor Day weekend, you can see live performances of underwater mermaids at 12, 2 and 4 p.m. daily. In addition to the shows, you can meet and greet the mermaids and pose for photos one hour prior to each performance. When you watch these ladies swim and perform acrobatic maneuvers in one of our giant tanks, you might start to believe that mermaids are real.

Sleep With The Sharks

This has been a popular program since the aquarium opened in the late '90s. Participants can spend the evening watching a dive show, participating in a scavenger hunt and then drifting off to sleep in the aquarium's underwater tunnel, where the resident sharks promise to keep a watchful eye on guests. Minimum age for participation is 5, and the cost is $75 per person. Remaining summer dates are June 8 and August 10.

Expedition Camps

These half-day adventures are led by the aquarium's education staff and include story time, a scavenger hunt, crafts, a snack and the chance to meet one of the aquarium animals in person. This is for ages 4 to 7, and the cost is $29.99 plus tax. Remaining summer dates are June 12, June 19, June 26 and July 10, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Whether you choose to visit Ripley's Aquarium or any other downtown attraction, we have one of the largest selections of parking lots Gatlinburg visitors can choose from. We have lots located throughout downtown that are close to attractions, restaurants, shops and trolley stops, and our prices make it easily affordable to leave your vehicle for an entire day.

Touch a sting ray in a safe environment.
Leif Palmer - Gatlinburg blogger

About Leif Palmer

Leif Palmer loves residing in Gatlinburg. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.


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