For Charmingly CJ’s birthday, one of the adventures while in Gatlinburg was to check out the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. I’m so happy that we chose this as one of the adventures for the trip. I’ll be posting about the other places we visited while in Gatlinburg (and Pigeon Forge). This is the first post of a fun series Adventures in Gatlinburg, TN. You can subscribe to the newsletter to get these post right in your inbox. The Ripley’s Aquarium was a short walk from our hotel and located on the main strip of the tourist attractions.

This aquarium has been the best that I have been to. The best way to share about the aquarium is to share it the way the Ripley’s Aquarium is laid out – in sections – Shark Lagoon, Coral Reef, Tropical Rainforest, etc.

Charmingly CJ and Jay at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Penguin Playhouse

This is a fun exhibit with a crawl through a tunnel for kids (and adults) to check out the penguins. You can view the penguins from above and below in this tunnel. It’s a fun way to get almost nose to beak with the penguins.

Charmingly CJ checking out the penguins at the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Enjoy the Penguin Playhouse as you watch them swim, eat, and play. You also can take home a one-of-a-kind piece of art in the Penguin Painting Experience. You can get up-close at a penguin paints signature footprint art on canvas. We didn’t do the painting experience, but it could be fun to watch.


This exhibit is about disasters at sea. In this exhibit, you can experience wreak reenactments, stand by Abraham Lincoln, learn about forgotten shipwrecks and what caused the shipwrecks, and learn about Black Beard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, the Edmund Fitzgerald, CSS Alabama, the Hunley and many more.

This section is very informative with a sitting area to watch a short film on shipwrecks. Being that Charmingly CJ is homeschooled, this was a great learning exhibit not only about the sea life but also about these shipwrecks and causes of them.

Charmingly CJ in the Shipwreck exhibit at Ripley's Aquarium

Shark Lagoon

An underwater tunnel that is a football field in long! Yes, it’s a 100-yard tunnel with a moving walkway.  This is a time when a picture or in this case a video is worth a thousand words.

Coral Reef

When I think of the coral reef, I think of all the colorful fish that are in the Indo-Pacific. Bright, colorful fish like the regal blue tang, the foxface rabbitfish, clownfish, clown triggerfish, and more.

Ocean Realm & Tropical Rainforest

In these exhibits, you’ll see garden eels, piranhas, arapaima, anableps, weedy scorpionfish, and more. Fun fact: piranhas are divided into two subfamilies – carnivorous and herbivorous. The herbivorous are better known as pacus and can grow to be 44 pounds. The carnivorous are smaller but known for their fearlessness.

What’s Your Favorite Sea Life?

I love taking photos of the jellyfish. They always seem so ready to take a photo – very photogenic. Charmingly CJ and I also were able to touch a jellyfish. Yes, a live jellyfish – they cut/trim the stringers. Make sure to check out the short video of me touching a jellyfish below.

What’s your favorite sea life to see at the aquarium?

jellyfish at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies



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About the Author

Jay Creed

Jay Creed

Content Creator + Manager

Jay is the Content Creator + Manager here at Life of Creed. She shares her adventures in homeschooling, traveling, beauty, mental health, fashion, product + music reviews, DIY, and more. She is also a blog coach + mompreneur consultant over at Jay Creed.

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