The Best 15 Zoos near GATLINBURG, TN 37738

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The Best 15 Zoos near GATLINBURG, TN 37738

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, is a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. While the region is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, it’s also home to some fantastic zoos and wildlife attractions that provide a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with animals from around the world. In this article, we will explore the best 15 zoos near Gatlinburg, TN 37738, offering a diverse range of animal encounters and educational experiences for visitors of all ages.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies


Location: Gatlinburg, TN


Known For: A spectacular underwater tunnel and a wide variety of aquatic species.


Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a must-visit destination in Gatlinburg. While not a traditional zoo, it boasts an impressive array of marine life, including sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, and colorful fish. The highlight is the glass tunnel that allows visitors to walk through a tank filled with awe-inspiring aquatic creatures.

Knoxville Zoo


Location: Knoxville, TN (Approximately 45 minutes from Gatlinburg)


Known For: A large and diverse collection of animals, including red pandas and African elephants.


The Knoxville Zoo is a short drive from Gatlinburg and is home to over 800 animals from around the world. Visitors can enjoy watching playful red pandas, majestic African elephants, and many other exotic species.

Tennessee Safari Park


Location: Alamo, TN (Approximately 3 hours from Gatlinburg)


Known For: A unique drive-through safari experience with animals from six continents.


While a bit farther from Gatlinburg, the Tennessee Safari Park offers an unforgettable experience. You can drive your vehicle through the park, where animals such as zebras, giraffes, and kangaroos roam freely. It’s like going on an African safari without leaving Tennessee.

Chattanooga Zoo


Location: Chattanooga, TN (Approximately 2 hours from Gatlinburg)


Known For: Red pandas, snow leopards, and interactive animal encounters.


The Chattanooga Zoo is a delightful place to visit, featuring red pandas, snow leopards, and various other animals. The zoo offers interactive experiences, including animal encounters and behind-the-scenes tours.

Zoo Knoxville


Location: Knoxville, TN (Approximately 45 minutes from Gatlinburg)


Known For: A diverse collection of animals, including giant pandas and gorillas.


Zoo Knoxville is another fantastic option for animal enthusiasts. It is one of only four zoos in the United States that houses giant pandas. Visitors can also see gorillas, red pandas, and a variety of other creatures.

Nashville Zoo at Grassmere


Location: Nashville, TN (Approximately 3 hours from Gatlinburg)


Known For: A wide range of animals, including clouded leopards and kangaroos.


If you’re willing to take a day trip from Gatlinburg, the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is well worth the drive. It boasts a diverse animal collection and beautiful exhibits, making it a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

Alabama Safari Park


Location: Hope Hull, AL (Approximately 5 hours from Gatlinburg)


Known For: A drive-through safari with an abundance of wildlife.


For those willing to embark on a more extended adventure, the Alabama Safari Park offers an immersive drive-through experience. You can observe animals such as giraffes, zebras, and kangaroos from the comfort of your vehicle.

The Exotic Petting Zoo


Location: Pigeon Forge, TN (Approximately 10 minutes from Gatlinburg)


Known For: Interactive encounters with exotic animals.


Located just a short drive from Gatlinburg, The Exotic Petting Zoo provides visitors with a unique opportunity to interact with exotic animals like lemurs, kangaroos, and reptiles. It’s an excellent choice for families with children.

Smoky Mountain Deer Farm & Exotic Petting Zoo


Location: Sevierville, TN (Approximately 15 minutes from Gatlinburg)


Known For: Hands-on experiences with deer, goats, and more.


This petting zoo near Gatlinburg is a great place for kids and animal lovers. It offers hands-on encounters with deer, goats, and other friendly animals, creating cherished memories for visitors of all ages.

RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo


Location: Sevierville, TN (Approximately 15 minutes from Gatlinburg)

Known For: A diverse collection of rainforest animals and educational programs.


RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo is dedicated to educating visitors about the wonders of the rainforest. It features a wide variety of exotic animals and offers informative programs for guests interested in conservation.

Three Bears General Store

Location: Pigeon Forge, TN (Approximately 10 minutes from Gatlinburg)

Known For: A unique blend of a zoo, store, and entertainment.


The Three Bears General Store is a quirky combination of a store, a small zoo, and a place for entertainment. Visitors can see live bears and explore a wide range of merchandise.

Noccalula Falls Park & Campground

Location: Gadsden, AL (Approximately 3 hours from Gatlinburg)

Known For: A scenic park with a petting zoo and beautiful waterfalls.


For those looking to venture further afield, Noccalula Falls Park offers picturesque waterfalls and a charming petting zoo. It’s a lovely place for a family outing.

Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo

Location: Horse Cave, KY (Approximately 3.5 hours from Gatlinburg)

Known For: Australian animals and underground tours.


While it’s a bit of a drive, the Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo is a unique destination featuring Australian animals and underground cave tours, providing a memorable experience for visitors.

Scottsboro-Jackson County Heritage Center & Transportation Museum

Location: Scottsboro, AL (Approximately 2.5 hours from Gatlinburg)

Known For: A transportation museum with animals and a butterfly house.
This charming museum combines transportation history with an animal exhibit and a butterfly house, making it an interesting stop for those seeking diverse attractions.

Tanglewood Farm Miniatures

Location: Canton, GA (Approximately 3.5 hours from Gatlinburg)

Known For: Miniature animals and a petting zoo.


Tanglewood Farm Miniatures is a unique zoo featuring miniature animals, making it an adorable and whimsical destination for animal lovers.

Gatlinburg and its surrounding areas offer a wealth of opportunities to connect with wildlife from around the world. Whether you’re interested in marine life, exotic animals, or hands-on encounters, these 15 zoos and animal attractions near Gatlinburg, TN 37738, promise memorable experiences for the whole family. So, plan your visit and embark on a wildlife adventure in the stunning backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains.