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Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies #TravelTuesday

If you've followed our blog for any length of time, you might be aware of our love for the Smoky Mountains and the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area in particular. Our family visits every year for the National Quartet Convention and we always schedule a few extra days for sightseeing and vacationing. One of our favorite places to visit in the area is the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. I believe in the five years we've visited the area, we've been to the aquarium all but one year. No matter how many times you visit, you will still be awed and amazed by the beautiful fish, sharks, rays, penguins, and many other sea creatures. Plus, every year there are new exhibits, so it truly never gets old!

This year, my sisters and I were able to visit the aquarium again. We went on a Sunday after Church (first time visiting on a Sunday) and I was amazed at how many people were there! We usually go on a weekday afternoon which usually aren't very busy. It was neat to see all the families and kids so excited about the aquarium on this trip, though! There are two levels to the aquarium, and it's laid out in sections. Upon entry, there is a huge "entry tank", an archelon turtle hanging from the ceiling, and a view of just how large the aquarium is. The tour starts by entering the tropical rainforest section which is home to the red bellied piranha, four eyed fish, and many more. The four eyed fish are fascinating to me!




As you continue your journey, you will visit the ocean realm, coral reef, shark lagoon, and stingray bay, among other sections. I always have to stop and visit the seahorses-they're one of my favorites! They're some of the most unique creatures, in my opinion.





Shark Lagoon is one of our favorite sections in the aquarium. Here, you get to actually walk under the enormous tank filled with sharks and fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors! This is an amazing experience that you will not forget! We enjoy stopping and just watching the creatures swim by and over us.





The aquarium features a changing exhibit area that this year was devoted to shipwrecks. It was so neat to wander through and look at some of the shipwrecks that have occurred in the past. There was also a section on Civil War naval battles that I really enjoyed. I have been a Civil War buff since my teenage years, and the naval battles are not often mentioned in many movies and books.











Of course, a visit to the aquarium would not be complete with stopping in the penguin playhouse. This is an area you can easily spend a half hour just watching the penguins!





The Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is a must-visit for anyone in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area. It's even worth the trip itself if you're not from the area! You can literally spend hours, enjoying the beautiful sea life inside. For directions, tickets, and aquarium hours, visit the Ripley's Aquarium website today-you'll certainly enjoy your visit!

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