It’s no secret that aquariums are one the coolest types of museums to visit, especially here in the Smokies! Walking underneath the sharks and petting the stingrays will never get old, even if I’m not 10 years old anymore.
USA Today recently created a poll for the Best10 Aquariums in North America, and we are excited to announce that Ripley’s Aquarium of Smokies landed in 2nd! With ever-changing exhibits and visitor- aquatic life interaction, Ripley’s always has a piece of our hearts and keeps us coming back every year for new exhibits to see. Personally, I took the afternoon off, put on my *imaginary* flippers and hit up the aquarium to relive my one my favorite childhood hotspots. I can’t wait to share with y’all my favorite exhibits and even SHOW you my journey through Ripley’s!
I started out waking into the upper level which provides a grand open lookout over a massive play structure, interactive tunnels, horseshoe crabs, and the Moon Jellies. Be sure to check out the video below for my experience!
My favorite exhibit, hands- down, is Shark Lagoon! Of course there’s many species that live in the tank, but the excitement of standing underneath a shark… there’s nothing like it (check out the video for my fun but slightly nervous reaction!). Visitors get to stand on a moving sidewalk that travels over 100 yards through the tank. While in the tunnel I also got to see Sally the sea turtle getting some affection from the divers! She was so cute!
After returning to, what felt like land, I ventured off to find the horseshoe crabs and the Moon Jellies. Fun fact: Horseshoe crabs are not true crabs, they are related to spiders and scorpions! I thought it was so cool to feel the hard shell of the horseshoe crabs and walk just few steps and touch the squishy jellies! I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous at first but the educators are so knowledgable and make safety a priority!
Next, I moved into the newest exhibit called Shipwrecked. This is very educational in regards to historical shipwrecks and Civil War era artifacts. I even got to meet Abraham Lincoln! 😉 Okay so maybe I didn’t actually meet him, but I loved getting to see artifacts and learn fun facts about him and the Civil War time period. A few other displays teach you interesting facts about Black Beard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, the Edmund Fitzgerald, CSS Alabama, and the Hunley!
Be sure to check out the Shipwrecks exhibits while it’s on display!
After exploring the Shipwrecks exhibit, I made time to catch the Penguin Feeding! In Penguin Playhouse you get to see the penguins interacting, playing, swimming, and feeding. Check out my video to watch the cutest penguins during their feeding time. During this show, educators actually talk to you and give you fun facts regarding penguins in general as well as their own penguins here at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
While sadly reaching the end of my day, I couldn’t leave without petting the stingrays! I made my way to Touch-A-Ray Bay to interact with these fun friends. They have such a slippery texture but they sure do love the attention. This is one of the largest interactive exhibits at Ripley’s but definitely a favorite of mine!
Time to recap: On your adventure through Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies be sure to check out my favorite exhibits:
Interactive Horseshoe Crabs and Moon Jellies
Glass Bottom Boat Adventure