Gatlinburg with Kids: A Day of Fun at Ripley’s Aquarium

Our second day in Gatlinburg with kids was full of more family fun. We took in Ripley’s Aquarium as well as some other attractions before getting rained in and spending the evening cuddled up with some movies. We have already done so much and I know there is still a ton more to do. It has become clear that you definitely can’t see everything at once when you visit Gatlinburg.

Hotel Fun

Our morning fun started at the Gatlinburg Holiday Inn Club Vacations Resort, with a trip down to the lobby to see the weekly bird show. Every Tuesday morning at 9:30AM, they have some feather friend visitors from Parrot Mountain in Pigeon Forge and you can take turns holding the birds. We took in the bird show and then bought some ridiculously well priced and beautiful jewelry from the trunk show that was also taking place in the lobby. I scored two bracelets and a ring without setting foot outside.

Ripley’s Aquarium

Did I mention that I love the fact that we can walk to almost any attraction in Gatlinburg from our resort? We took a stroll down to the Ripley’s Aquarium for our first attraction of the day. It is about 4-5 blocks away from the resort, but the walk really isn’t that bad. As soon as we entered the door to the aquarium I could tell that we were in for quite a treat. There are huge prehistoric sea creature skeletons suspended everywhere and  you are ushered into a rain forest area to start the tour. Here you see things like poisonous frogs and piranhas.

Throughout the Ripley’s Aquarium there are plenty of interactive experiences. If you go earlier in the day you can catch the feeding of the sharks and other animals as well as many interactive displays and even touch tanks with horseshoe crabs and rays.

One of the best features at the aquarium in my opinion is the shark area. We went to the one at Sea World in Orlando and this was done much better. The area is much longer and the moving platform goes so slow that you have plenty of time to look around. You also have the option of getting off the platform at any point if you want to take a closer look.

The boys particularly enjoyed the Penguin Playhouse. You can climb up in a tube and get a first hand look at them up close and they must have spent a good 20 minutes looking at and playing with the penguins in the outside area while my mom and I rested our feet. At $22.99 for adults, $11.99 for children 6-11 and $5.99 for those 2-5, this is a great value in Gatlinburg and you could easily spend hours exploring this one attraction.

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze

In case you haven’t noticed by now, Ripley’s has quite an empire of attractions going on in Gatlinburg. There are many different ones and you can buy discount tickets when you bundle different attractions together, which is a huge money saver with a bigger family. On the walk back to the resort from the aquarium we stopped by the Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze. This was not a huge attraction and didn’t take that long to go through, but one ticket will allow you in as many times as you want throughout the day. You put on your gloves and you are good to go. Warning to paranoid parents like myself, keep your kids close, because while fun, this is extremely confusing and if they get loose you will have to meet them outside. The cost without a bundled ticket is $8.99 per person with children 3 and under in for free.

Guiness World Records Museum

Our last stop before returning to the resort was the Guiness World Records Museum. This is another Ripley’s attraction and I knew we would be visiting it, as the boys have always been fascinated with various world record stats. The museum is exactly what it promises, a display of various world record facts throughout the years. You will find records and memorabilia from records about anything from music, to movies, special abilities, height and even crazy things like the man who literally cut his home in half as his interpretation of the New Jersey division of property divorce law. It was a fun walk through attraction and one that I don’t regret doing with the boys. Prices are $9.99 for adults and $5.99 for children 6-11.

Tomorrow we head to Christ in the Smokies as well as some other popular Gatlinburg attractions that are great for the whole family, so be sure to check back in!

*Holiday Inn Club Vacations provided us with a complimentary four night stay at their Gatlinburg location and the Gatlinburg Attractions Association provided us with a complimentary VIP attractions pass, but all words and opinions expressed above are my own. 


  1. Oh wow! It looks like you had fun! Walking is a good thing, especially with four energetic boys! 😉

  2. You can spend weeks in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and still have things new to see and do. 🙂 Looks like you guys are having a blast!

  3. It looks like you all had a BLAST! Your son is braver than I am to let the parrots sit on his shoulder!

  4. I totally love Ripley's Museums. Living in Central Florida we have a few around. The aquarium would have been my favorite!


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