Ripley’s Aquarium vs. Newport Aquarium: A Head-to-Head Comparison

Ripley’s Aquarium vs. Newport Aquarium

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Ripley’s Aquarium vs. Newport Aquarium: A Head-to-Head Comparison


Aquariums provide an immersive and instructive experience for guests of all ages when it comes to experiencing the fascinating undersea world. Nobody wants to say no to a fancy aquarium.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Tennessee and Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky are two such renowned aquariums in the United States.

We’ll look at the size, attractions, species, ticket rates, and a buyer’s guide to help you make the most of your visit to either of these amazing aquatic wonders, so let’s dive into an in-depth comparison of Ripley’s Aquarium vs. Newport Aquarium.

Size Matters

Let’s begin by comparing the sizes of these two aquariums. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is one of the largest and most recognized aquariums in the southeastern United States, measuring 110,000 square feet. It is located in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains and is surrounded by spectacular natural beauty, adding to the overall appeal of the site.

Newport Aquarium, on the other hand, may be smaller, but it certainly does not lack wonder and thrill. This 70,000-square-foot aquarium is smartly built to maximize space while providing an interesting experience. While it is smaller than its Tennessee counterpart, it more than makes up for it with well-curated exhibits and interactive displays.

Attractions Galore

If you opt to take a captivating voyage through the underwater wonders of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies or Newport Aquarium, be prepared to be wowed by a symphony of sights and experiences.

Let’s take a closer look at the enthralling attractions that await you at each aquarium, providing amazing experiences for visitors of all ages.

Size Matters & Attractions Galore of 2 Aquariums

Ripley’s Aquarium

Shark Lagoon

Prepare to be amazed as you enter the “Shark Lagoon,” an engineering marvel that takes you on a 340-foot journey via an underwater tube.

While strolling along the tunnel’s path, you’ll be submerged in the deep blue water as beautiful sharks glide gently overhead, including awe-inspiring tiger sharks and graceful sand tiger sharks. This incredible encounter with these majestic creatures will leave you with a greater appreciation for their beauty and power.

Penguin Playhouse

Head to the “Penguin Playhouse” for an appealing and uplifting experience, where you’ll be attracted by the playful antics of adorable penguins waddling and swimming in their icy habitat.

Observe how they engage with one another, plunging into the water with astonishing agility and charming guests. These endearing critters will surely make you smile and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Newport Aquarium

Surreal Sea

Step into the “Surreal Sea” exhibit at Newport Aquarium and prepare to be captivated. Enter a beautiful 30-foot underwater tunnel with a moving walkway that provides a 360-degree view of the ocean’s most intriguing species.

Glide alongside majestic sharks, graceful rays, and a plethora of colorful fish as they navigate their watery domain with grace and power. The immersive experience will have you swimming alongside these intriguing marine creatures.

Amazon Rainforest

Set out on an adventure to the “Amazon Rainforest” exhibit, where you’ll discover the wonderful world of one of the world’s most biodiverse places.

Travel through lush vegetation and vivid flora while observing an enthralling collection of wildlife, including the famed anaconda and the infamous piranhas.

This interactive exhibit brings the Amazon River’s mystique to life, providing a glimpse into the intricate balance of life inside this unique ecosystem.

A Diverse Array of Species

Species of 2 Aquariums

When it comes to species variety, both aquariums shine in their own distinct ways.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies proudly displays over 10,000 unusual sea animals from over 350 different kinds. The variety of aquatic life is simply remarkable, with everything from playful otters to stately sea turtles and captivating jellyfish. In addition, visitors may marvel at the bright hues of tropical fish and get up close and personal with beautiful stingrays in interactive touch pools.

Newport Aquarium, on the other hand, takes pride in having over 90 exhibits and 14 galleries that hold over 3,000 animals from all over the world. The Newport Aquarium offers intimate contact with an astounding spectrum of aquatic species, from the charming and curious Asian small-clawed otters to the awe-inspiring Gator Alley, which houses terrifying alligators and snapping turtles.

How to Reach the Aquariums?

Understanding the best routes and modes of transportation to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies or Newport Aquarium is the first step in planning a vacation to these fascinating attractions.

We’ve created precise directions for both aquariums, whether you’re arriving by vehicle, public transportation, or air, to ensure a seamless journey.

Getting to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

By Car

  1. If traveling from the north (Knoxville, TN), drive Interstate 40 East to Exit 407, which will take you to Gatlinburg/Sevierville/Pigeon Forge.
  2. Take US-441 South, which will take you to Gatlinburg. The Great Smoky Mountains may be seen from this picturesque road.
  3. Continue south on US-441 until you reach Gatlinburg. The aquarium is located at 88 River Road, which is conveniently accessible from downtown.

By Public Transportation

The Gatlinburg Mass Transit Trolley system operates throughout the city, offering quick access to numerous attractions such as Ripley’s Aquarium for people arriving by bus. Check the trolley system’s schedule and routes to efficiently plan your trip.

By Air

McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville, TN is roughly 45 miles distant and serves as the closest major airport to Gatlinburg. To get to Gatlinburg and the aquarium, you can rent a car or take a shuttle from the airport.

Getting to Newport Aquarium

By Car

  1. If you’re coming from the north (Cincinnati, OH), use Interstate 71 South to Interstate 75 South.
  2. Take Exit 185 for 5th Street and go to Newport, Kentucky.
  3. When you arrive in Newport, look for the Newport Aquarium, which is situated at 1 Aquarium Way, Newport, KY 41071.

By Public Transportation

If you’re travelling from Cincinnati, you can ride the Southbank Shuttle, which connects many attractions in downtown Cincinnati to Newport, including the aquarium.

By Air

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is roughly 15 miles away from Newport Aquarium. To get to the aquarium, you can rent a car or take a taxi/rideshare service from the airport.

Routes to the 2 Aquariums

Parking Information

Both aquariums have parking for tourists who arrive by automobile. For a cost, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has a large parking area adjacent to the site. There are also other parking lots and garages within walking distance of the Newport Aquarium.

Travel Tips for a Smooth Visit

If you’re looking for a hassle-free and stress-free trip to either Ripley’s and Newport Aquarium, here are some helpful tips that you should consider.

Plan Ahead

Before beginning your travel, familiarize yourself with the routes and accessible transit alternatives. Check the aquariums’ hours of operation and plan your visit accordingly.

Traffic and Weather

Keep an eye out for potential traffic jams, especially during peak tourist seasons. Check the weather prediction for the day of your visit as well, as weather conditions in hilly places often fluctuate.

Public Transportation

Check the timetables and routes for public transportation ahead of time. Be mindful of any schedule modifications on weekends or holidays.

Arrive Early

To make the most of your time at the aquarium and avoid crowds, aim to arrive early in the day, when the aquariums open.

Ticket Prices

When arranging a visit to any destination, it is critical to examine the admission fees. Ticket costs at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies normally range from $30 to $35 for adults and $20 to $25 for children (ages 2-11).

Seniors and military personnel are frequently eligible for discounts. Additionally, the aquarium offers special prices and online specials on occasion, so visiting their website before purchasing tickets can result in significant savings.

Moreover, Newport Aquarium tickets typically run from $25 to $30, while children’s tickets range from $17 to $23. Seniors and military members, like Ripley’s Aquarium, are frequently eligible for discounted pricing, and numerous online offers and packages can provide cost-effective solutions for families.

A Buyer’s Guide to Saving on Tickets

Consider the following money-saving suggestions to get the most out of your visit to any aquarium without breaking the bank.

Coupons and Promos

Take advantage of online discounts and deals offered by 2 aquariums, like chill Newport Aquarium promo codes released this month, helping you to save a lot on the tickets.

Early Bird Online Deals

Both aquariums frequently offer special discounts for internet ticket purchases. Keep a look out for early bird discounts and book your tickets ahead of time to save money.

Combo Tickets

If you want to visit other local sites, see if there are any combo tickets available that cover admission to the aquarium as well as other surrounding attractions. These package agreements can result in big savings.

Membership Benefits

Consider becoming a member if you plan on visiting the aquarium more than once. Aquarium memberships can include benefits such as unrestricted admission for a year as well as additional discounts on special events and purchases.

Local Discounts

If you live in the area, see if the aquarium offers resident discounts. They do this occasionally to encourage local support and frequent visits.

Special Promotions 

Keep an eye out for holiday offers, seasonal discounts, and special offers, including the Ripley’s Aquarium of the SmokiesCombo Passes on the aquariums’ official websites and social media channels. Be ready to seize any possibilities that present themselves.

Tips to Travel Smoothly at Aquariums

Exploring the Gems Around the Aquariums

Aside from the enthralling world of aquariums, both Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Newport Aquarium are located in places rich in fascinating attractions.

Let’s have a look at some of the local hidden jewels that will provide a well-rounded vacation experience for tourists of all interests.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This historic national park, located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor explorers alike. The Great Smoky Mountains, with over 800 miles of hiking trails, flowing waterfalls, and diverse fauna, provide many opportunities for picturesque drives, picnics, camping, and animal watching.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

This park, located just a short distance from the aquarium, offers a thrilling ride on the Gatlinburg SkyLift, a chairlift that takes you to the top of Crockett Mountain. The top offers amazing panoramic views of the town and surrounding mountains.

Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg, a year-round mountain resort and amusement park, offers a taste of the alpine. Skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing are available in the winter, while water slides, wildlife encounters, and a beautiful chairlift ride are available in the summer.

Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community

The Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community is a must-see for art enthusiasts. This 8-mile loop is home to over 100 artists and craftspeople and features a broad selection of handmade goods such as ceramics, paintings, jewelry, and more.

Newport Aquarium 

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, located just across the Ohio River, has a variety of things worth seeing. There’s no shortage of cultural and family-friendly activities in Cincinnati, from the world-renowned Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden to the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.

Findlay Market

If you enjoy cuisine, don’t miss Findlay Market, Ohio’s longest continually operating public market. Indulge in fresh vegetables, handcrafted goods, and cultural activities that highlight the vibrant community spirit.

Smale Riverfront Park

Beautiful gardens, strolling trails, fountains, and playgrounds may be found in this lovely park along the banks of the Ohio River. It’s ideal for leisurely strolls, picnics, and taking in the riverfront scenery.

Cincinnati Art Museum

Art enthusiasts will admire the Cincinnati Art Museum’s extensive collection, which spans over 6,000 years of world art. The museum is a cultural sanctuary because of its diversified exhibitions and fascinating events.

Final Thoughts 

Ultimately, Ripley’s Aquarium vs. Newport Aquarium review and comparison is guaranteed to help you achieve an unforgettable and educational experience. Both aquariums offer unique features, diverse marine life, and opportunities to create cherished memories with your loved ones.

If you’re enchanted by the Great Smoky Mountains and desire a larger aquarium experience, Ripley’s is your go-to destination. However, if you prefer a slightly more intimate setting without compromising on the wonder, Newport Aquarium is the perfect choice.

Remember to plan ahead of time, take advantage of any available discounts, and be ready to be mesmerized by the captivating underwater realms that await you at either of these exceptional aquariums. Have fun exploring!

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