MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - One of Myrtle Beach's most popular attractions is making headlines. Ripley's Aquarium was named one of the top 12 best aquariums in the nation for Destinations Travel Magazine.
Not only is Ripley's on the list, it's number five. Since there are more than 200 accredited aquariums and zoos nationwide, this is a huge honor for Ripley's.
The Myrtle Beach aquarium is among three California attractions, the Georgia aquarium and seven others on the list, but it's the only aquarium to make the list in the Carolinas.
The magazine features Ripley's for its size of 85,000 feet, its exotic species from piranhas to poison dart frogs, and the chance to come close with the animals.
"People always want to see what they're swimming with out in the ocean and they have a chance to do that here by getting face-to-face with the sharks. We're very interactive, we have lots of interactive hands-on activities, you can actually get into our tanks with our animals," Jessica Mula, Ripley's Aquarium Marketing Coordinator, said.
The top aquarium list highlights the hands-on opportunities at Ripley's, like being able to actually pet a stingray or being able to glide under the dangerous reef, filled with sharks.
To make the list of top aquariums for Destinations Travel Magazine means setting a record for the Ripley's brand and putting Myrtle Beach on the radar for more visitors.
Being one of two Ripley's aquariums in the US, it's a reason why people come to the area, with a top aquarium title, it hopes to drive in more.
With summer days ahead, the indoor attraction is looking for ways to steal you from the sun. When the sun was down, sales were up, and with the harsh winter weather, the attraction has seen growth.
With new educational programs in the works and expansion to exhibits, Ripley's Aquarium says there's plenty ahead, bringing in new sights - like Swarm and the Dangerous Reef - is why Ripley's says they've seen success.
"You know we change out or exhibit room every year, this year we have Swarm and it's full of interactives in there as well. You can stick your hand in while the fish eat the dead skin off your fingers, so its kind of like a little manicure for yourself," Mula said.
A new attraction for Ripley's aquarium might feature penguins. A new penguin exhibit to Ripley's, is a topic up for discussion Wednesday with the City of Myrtle Beach.