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Top 4 Kid-Friendly Activities at Ripley’s Aquarium

Ripley's Aquarium
July 13, 2021

Voted as the second best aquarium in North America by USA Today, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is conveniently located less than a mile from our hotel. If you are visiting the Smoky Mountains with children, the aquarium has an amazing amount of activities for them to explore. Here are 4 of the best kid-friendly activities at Ripley’s Aquarium:

1. Penguin Playhouse

Penguins Playhouse Ripley's

As one of the most popular birds in the world, the penguins are always one of kids’ favorites things to see when they visit the aquarium. The Penguin Playhouse exhibit allows them to get an up close view of the penguins and their habitat. When you get to the exhibit, kids are able to crawl through tunnels to a special viewing area that will leave them with a panoramic view of penguins swimming and playing all around them. Not only do the kids feel like they are in the middle of the Penguin Playhouse, this also sets up a perfect photo opportunity for parents to get of their children. There is no doubt that the Penguin Playhouse will be one of the highlights of the kids’ adventure to the aquarium.

2. Touch a Ray Bay

As one of the world’s most mysterious creatures, rays are incredibly fascinating to learn about, and the Touch a Ray Bay exhibit gives kids the opportunity to do just that. As you walk up to the pool, you will see a shallow body of water where the rays are busy gliding away. In the middle of the exhibit, one of the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Educators gives you all the details of the animal and answers any questions you or the kids may have. The best part of this exhibit for the kids is the ability to reach out and touch one of the rays. The silky smooth skin of the rays will leave kids amazed as they wait for the next one to get close enough to touch.

3. Glass Bottom Boat Adventure


As one of the newer things you can do at Ripley’s Aquarium, the Glass Bottom Boat Adventure will be a thrilling ride for the whole family! The boat ride allows you to venture out into Shark Lagoon, where only three inches of glass separate you from sharks that are up to 12-feet long, as well as other creatures that call this area home. Shark Lagoon contains over 8,500 different aquatic animals representing more than 75 different species! As you ride along in the boat, the guide will teach you all about the different marine life that you encounter.

4. Sleepovers at the Aquarium

One of the best opportunities for kids to learn about all the different marine life that the aquarium has to offer is with the Seaworthy Sleepovers Adventure. Starting late in the evening, kids are able to adventure around the different parts of the aquarium after hours to see what the animals do late at night and a chance to spend the night at the aquarium. This experience includes admission to a diving show, a scavenger hunt, a late night activity, and so much more! What better way for the kids to enjoy their vacation than to spend the night at one of the best aquariums in the world!

Now that you know about some of the best kid-friendly activities at Ripley’s Aquarium, be sure to check out some of the other activities in Gatlinburg to experience with your family. We hope you enjoy your stay with us on your Smoky Mountain vacation!