When you stay at Black Bear Inn & Suites, you will be minutes away from one of the very best aquariums in the United States! Located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is an extremely popular destination in East Tennessee. Ripley’s is ranked among the top 10 aquariums in the nation on TripAdvisor and has been visited by well over 15 million guests.
To help you make the most of your vacation, we have put together a guide to the top four advantages of staying at our Gatlinburg hotel near Ripley’s Aquarium.
1. Just a Short Walk or Trolley Ride Away
Guests at Black Bear Inn & Suites will be just a 4-minute drive or a 14-minute walk from Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. When the weather is nice, enjoying a relaxing stroll along the Parkway is the perfect way to get to the aquarium.
Black Bear Inn is also lucky enough to have a trolley stop right by our hotel. The Gatlinburg Mass Transit Office is located adjacent to Ripley’s so you can take a trolley straight to the aquarium! The trolley costs just 50 cents per ride, which is cheaper than paying for parking in downtown Gatlinburg.
2. Ripley’s Aquarium is Great for Kids
Ripley’s Aquarium is one of the most kid-friendly attractions in Gatlinburg! Many of the exhibits are hands-on and allow your little ones to get an up-close look at their favorite sea creatures and animals. Some of the most popular sections of the aquarium for children are:
- The Penguin Playhouse: This special habitat for the aquarium’s African penguins features transparent tunnels that kids can crawl through. Your kids will love coming face to face with the adorable penguins!
- Shark Lagoon: This underwater tunnel is swimming with the ocean’s most famous predators. Instead of walking through Shark Lagoon, a 100-yard moving sidewalk takes you through the tunnel so you can give your full attention to the sharks.
- Mermaid Shows: Ripley’s frequently hosts “real” mermaids, who dive in the aquarium’s tanks and interact with children. Your little ones will be convinced that they’ve actually met a mermaid!
3. Perfect for a Rainy Day
When you stay at our Gatlinburg hotel near Ripley’s Aquarium, you will never have to worry about bad weather. Even if your plans to go hiking or picnicking in the national park are put on hold, your family will always have the aquarium as a backup option. You’ll need at least 2 hours at Ripley’s to see all of the exhibits, and if you stay for a meal for a special event, it’s easy to spend most of your day at the aquarium.
4. Special Experiences You Won’t Find Anywhere Else
In addition to all of the fun that is included with standard admission, Ripley’s Aquarium also offers a number of unique add-on experiences that can make your visit unforgettable. Some of the most popular packages include:
- Splash with Stingrays: When you sign up for this package, you’ll be able to get right in the water with the real live stingrays at Ripley’s Touch-A-Ray Bay!
- Penguin Encounter: Guests will get a behind the scenes look at the Penguin Playhouse and will get to pet a penguin. A souvenir photo of your family with the penguin is included with this package.
- Penguin Painting Experience: With this package, guests get to watch one of the aquarium’s penguins create a unique work of art by waddling across a canvas with paint on its feet. You’ll even get to take your very own penguin painting home with you!
Our Gatlinburg hotel near Ripley’s Aquarium has everything you need for an unforgettable vacation. Guests at Black Bear Inn & Suites will enjoy a delicious complimentary breakfast, enclosed heated pool, exercise facility, balconies with scenic views, and even more great amenities. To start planning your next getaway, browse our selection of Gatlinburg hotel suites!