By Darryl Payne
Posted on August 1, 2010
Do you ever wish you could breathe underwater? Have you ever wanted to explore the murky depths of the ocean or to spy on aquatic life activity in ponds and rivers? Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies lets you do just that! This world-class attraction sprawls in the middle of scenic Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and features over 10,000 swimming creatures, from fresh water to salt water. Visitors to this open-year-round aquarium will find the spacious layout and tranquil ambiance the perfect place to visit after a few busy hours of shopping downtown.
Visitors enter the aquarium and come upon the large cylinder that is home to a large variety of fish, from the coastal Carolinas to the Caribbean. This introductory exhibit also presents life-size, replicas of prehistoric aquatic life.
Explore the tropical rainforest exhibit, and view creatures not often seen by the average tourist! Fish make up nearly half of all vertebrate life on earth. Visitors get a close-up view of life under the sea in the ocean life exhibit as this Tennessee aquarium displays both common and some uncommon fish and sea creatures. Beyond the ocean realm is the vibrant coral reef. Of all the aquatic systems in the world, the coral reef is home to the most colorful local inhabitants.
The largest and most popular exhibit of this Gatlinburg aquarium is the shark lagoon . inside this 340 foot length of underwater tunnel, you will feel as though you have stepped into another world. The glidepath moving sidewalk smoothly transports its passengers through and under the shark lagoon, where you will see stingrays, sawfish, tarpons, sharks, eels and more!
Parents and children alike will like the Discovery Center at Gatlinburg Ripley's Aquarium. Here, kids can look, and touch with plenty of educated staff available to answer questions. This hands-on exhibit also features live horseshoe crabs that can be touched if you are brave enough! The Touch-A-Ray-Bay area also allows visitors to touch gentle rays, as well as look at them! Beyond the Discovery Center is the Gallery of the Seas, an "art museum" of some unusual and beautiful marine life. Each creature in its environment is a work of art and displayed as such.
Hang out at Stingray Bay, where trained divers interact with the rays, hourly and you can take a break for refreshments at Feeding Frenzy while watching the show. Round out a memorable underwater journey through this Gatlinburg attraction with dinner at the Veranda restaurant adjacent to the aquarium, a delicious meal right next to the river. Check your relaxation level, and see if a little time "under the deep" wasn't just educational, but also great water therapy!
About Darryl Payne
Darryl Payne is a native of East Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He is a web developer with a passion for building great websites. As a local, he can offer a unique perspective on where to stay and things to do while on vacation in the Smokies. To read his latest recommendations, please click the Google+ follow button.