Travelogue: Gatlinburg – Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

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Day 4 Itinerary:

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Lunch @ Wild Plum Tea Room

Davy Crockett Mini Golf

Dinner @ Best Italian Cafe in Gatlinburg

Day 4, our final day! We saved the aquarium for last. This was by far little Adam’s (my 21 month-old) favorite part of the trip. I must say, it might have been one of mine too. This aquarium is amazing! Tripadvisor rated Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies as the number 1 aquarium in the country. I wouldn’t go quite that far (Georgia Aquarium is still my number 1), but it is really, really great. Tip: Consider leaving your stroller at home. It’s fairly crowded so pushing a stroller around is kind of a pain. Adam had so much fun running around anyway that he had no desire to sit in a stroller.

The best things here:

Shark Lagoon: Relax on a moving walkway that winds through a huge underwater tunnel. We saw all kinds of things from sea turtles and sawfish to huge sharks.

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Touch tanks: This aquarium provided lots of opportunities to get up close to the sea life. Matthew and Jordan’s favorite was the touch tank with the horseshoe crabs. They not only got to touch them, but they got to pick them up! The boys thought it was awesome.

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Penguin Playhouse: They had the best penguin exhibit I have ever seen! It was a huge indoor and outdoor exhibit. Loved it!

The results of running around the aquarium non-stop for almost 3 hours:

Even Superman needs a nap

Even Superman needs a nap 🙂

 

Prior to any vacation we take, I research the area for hours, scouring reviews and travel sites for the best places to explore and the most unique places to eat. I happened upon a little gem in the woods. It’s called Wild Plum Tea Room and it’s nestled along the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts loop. This restaurant is quaint and lovely. My dad joked that it was the kind of place that only old women on shopping trips eat at, haha. While the decor did give that appearance, we all agreed that the food was amazing and was fit for the hungriest man. 😉 I loved my chicken salad, and I have never eaten such a scrumptious scone. Wild Plum Tea Room was a beautiful, unique dining experience and a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of downtown Gatlinburg.

After a couple hours of relaxing back at the cabin, we played miniature golf at Davy Crockett’s Mini-Golf. I really wanted to play at Hillbilly golf, but it closes at 4pm at this time of year. Hillbilly Golf is one of the most unique mini golf courses (you ride in a little cart 300 feet up the mountain to the course). The other plus is that it’s quite a bit less expensive than other courses in Gatlinburg – $8.99/adult vs. $14.99/adult. However, we did have plenty of fun at Davy Crockett Mini-Golf. The theme was very cute and the course was just challenging enough.

We finished off the night at Best Italian Cafe & Pizzeria. It wasn’t the best Italian I’ve had, but the food was good and the prices were decent. Order the garlic rolls – they were super yummy.

We weren’t quite able to squeeze in everything I wanted to do on our trip (I really wanted to do another hike). I think 5 days would be the perfect number of days for a Gatlinburg/Smoky Mountain getaway. Anyway, we had tons of fun and the boys were especially sad to leave our awesome cabin. Overall, the Gatlinburg/Smoky Mountain area offers so many ways to spend quality family time. It was the perfect mix of relaxation and reconnecting with nature, and family fun and adventure.

Our 3-bedroom cabin was incredible!

Our 3-bedroom cabin was incredible!

The view from the main deck of our cabin. Breathtaking!

The view from the main deck of our cabin. Breathtaking!

One thought on “Travelogue: Gatlinburg – Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

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