American flags in front of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in downtown Gatlinburg.

3 Benefits of Vacationing at Our Gatlinburg Hotel Near Aquarium

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is one of the most popular places to visit in Gatlinburg, TN, and it’s not hard to see why! This incredible attraction is ranked among the top 10 aquariums in the United States by the users of TripAdvisor. When you stay at Sidney James Mountain Lodge, you will be just a 4 minute drive or an 18 minute walk from Ripley’s Aquarium. Here are just three of the benefits of vacationing at our Gatlinburg hotel near aquarium:

1. Save Money on Parking

Guests at Sidney James Mountain Lodge don’t have to worry about paying for parking at the lot next to Ripley’s Aquarium! Our hotel is within walking distance of the aquarium, so you can enjoy a pleasant stroll downtown instead of driving. Alternately, guests at Sidney James can take advantage of the Gatlinburg trolley system. For just 50 cents per ride, a trolley will pick you up right in front of our hotel and take you to the aquarium. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that!

(See Also: 5 Excellent Restaurants Within Walking Distance of Our Downtown Gatlinburg Hotel)

2. The Aquarium is the Ultimate Rainy Day ActivityA Gatlinburg trolley in front of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.

Gatlinburg is known for its many outdoor activities in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Sometimes, however, the weather just doesn’t cooperate with your plans to go hiking or ziplining. Fortunately, guests at Sidney James Mountain Lodge will always have the perfect backup plan for a rainy day!

Ripley’s Aquarium is all indoors and offers hours of entertainment that your whole family will love. Making your way through all of the exhibits at the aquarium takes at least two hours, but it’s not hard to spend an entire afternoon soaking in all of the sights. The aquarium offers special diver shows that can extend the length of your visit, as can stopping for a bite to eat at the Feeding Frenzy snack bar. Your family will never be bored when you stay at our Gatlinburg hotel near aquarium!

3. Interactive Exhibits Your Kids Will Love

Ripley’s Aquarium is so popular with children (and adults!) because of its interactive exhibits. Rather than just passively watching, guests have the chance to learn about the ocean by touching, crawling, and experiencing. Here are a few of the aquarium’s most popular features:

  • The Penguin Playhouse is a $5 million expansion to the aquarium that was added in 2010. This special habitat for the aquarium’s African penguins includes clear tunnels that kids can climb through to get an up-close look at the birds. For an additional fee, guests can even arrange a Penguin Encounter, where families have the chance to pet a penguin and pose for a photo with their new web-toed friend.
  • The Shark Lagoon is an immersive underwater tunnel that is swimming with sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, green moray eels, and other predators of the deep. Guests move through the 100 yard tunnel by standing on a moving sidewalk, so they can devote their full attention to watching the sea creatures all around them.
  • Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies offers a special “Splash with the Stingrays” package that is well worth the extra money. With this add-on, guests visit Touch-A-Ray Bay, where they get right in the water with real live stingrays!

Two African penguins next to water.When you stay at our Gatlinburg hotel near aquarium, you can enjoy the fun at Ripley’s and all of the other wonderful attractions on The Strip. To learn about everything our hotel has to offer, visit the Sidney James Mountain Lodge Amenities page!