It's Christmas time underwater as well as above sea level at Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach. Located about one mile directly down 29th Avenue from the Caribbean Resort & Villas, this Broadway at the Beach attraction goes to the depths of the oceans and even the heights of the treetops with its Festival of Trees Celebration throughout the holiday season.
In addition to its main attractions of scary-looking sharks, giant sea turtles and graceful stingrays, Ripley's Aquarium doubles as an arboretum as 75 Christmas trees deck the halls of the 85,000 square foot facility. Included in regular aquarium admission, the Festival of Trees has become a popular attraction for snapping family photos for the holidays.
The Festival of Trees features 55 uniquely decorated Christmas trees to represent each state and territory in the United States. For instance, the South Carolina tree is adorned with the Palmetto and Crescent Moon that make up the state flag, seashells and starfish, and other items the Palmetto State are famous for. Each tree highlights its state's diversity and chief exports, and Ripley's Aquarium has added 20 new trees to the exhibit to bring even more Christmas cheer this year.
Children can also get into the spirit of giving by simply writing a letter to Santa Claus. In conjunction with the U.S. Marines' Toys for Tots campaign, Ripley's Aquarium has set up a special mailbox that goes straight to the jolly ol' elf at the North Pole. For each child who sends off their Christmas wish list to Santa, Ripley's Aquarium will donate one toy to the charity as part of its mission to make sure no kids wake up Christmas morning without a gift under the tree.
Ripley's Aquarium also offers fun activities for the little ones, such as a holiday-themed scavenger hunt that sends them scurrying around the complex in search of clues to complete the treasure search. On Saturdays throughout the holiday season, the Christmas cheer spills outside the building with Ripley's Ruckus Drum Line. Join in the conga line and bang out some beats with the band and fellow guests on the plaza in another added bonus for visiting during the holidays.
Of course, the permanent attraction at Ripley's Aquarium is worth the price of admission. More than 1.5 million gallons of water is pumped through the facility each day to accommodate more than 1,400 different species of sea creatures. Offering hands-on, interactive exhibits and aquatic displays featuring fish and other sea life from the four corners of the planet, Ripley’s Aquarium is one of those rare attractions that are both entertaining and educational.
Take a ride down the 330-foot moving walkway that carries patrons through Danger Reef, a display that lets guests get up close and personal with sharks. Surrounded on all sides by these amazing creatures, visitors can get a unique view of sharks doing what they do best. Check out Ray Bay, where you can actually pet the stingrays as they glide past you in an open pool. See brilliantly colored fish from the Amazon, Great Barrier Reef and other far away bodies of water.
Ripley’s Aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., including Christmas Day. Admission is $22.99 for adults and $14.99 for children, although a $2 discount is available for those who purchase tickets online at ripleysaquarium.com. Caribbean guests should look at their Sun & Fun Bonus packages upon checking in as Ripley’s Aquarium is one of many Myrtle Beach attractions that provide free passes to our guests. It’s just one more reason you and your crew should spend the holidays with us at the Caribbean this season.