10Best cites best zoos, aquariums and gardens, according to readers


As the weather warms, it’s a great time to get out and explore with our friends and families. 10Best readers were asked to vote for the best zoos, aquariums, safari parks, dude ranches and botanical gardens across the country, and the results are in.

Click on each category below to see the full winners list:

Best Aquarium: Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri

Founded by Johnny Morris, CEO of Bass Pro Shops, Springfield’s Wonders of Wildlife celebrates hunting, fishing and stewardship of the land and water through 1.5 miles of immersive galleries featuring 4D dioramas and a 1.5-million-gallon aquarium. Some 35,000 animals representing over 800 species are on display, including zebra sharks, sea turtles and freshwater sport fish. Unique to the aquarium is its collection of historic boats used by fishing legends and celebrities, like Jimmy Buffet, Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey.

Full list of winners: Best Aquarium »

Best Botanical Garden: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden wins Best Botanical Garden for third year in a row

The warm climate of Coral Gables allows tropical plants to be grown outdoors year-round at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden – one of the only places in the continental United States where this is possible. Exotic butterflies fly freely within the Wings of the Tropics exhibit, while the Tropical Plant Conservatory and Rare Plant House displays 450 species of rare and endangered tropical plants from around the globe. Other themed gardens include a Tropical Fruit Pavilion, Palm Glade, Tropical Flower Garden, Succulent Garden and even a display of the dry forest plants of Madagascar.

Full list of winners: Best Botanical Garden »

Best Dude Ranch: Cherokee Park Ranch in Livermore, Colorado

Saddle up for a great vacation at Cherokee Park Ranch, winner of Best Dude Ranch

One of Colorado’s first guest ranches, Cherokee Park Ranch was once a stagecoach stop between Fort Collins, Colorado and Laramie, Wyoming. Today, guests enjoy a range of all-inclusive activities, from horseback riding and fishing to art classes and square dancing. Accommodations include suites in a 120-year-old lodge and six outlying cabins, each equipped with porch swings.

Full list of winners: Best Dude Ranch »

Best Safari Park: Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park in Ashland, Nebraska

Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park wins Best Safari Park for third year in a row

An accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park invites visitors to drive along a 4-mile route through habitats populated by native North American plant and animal species – American elk, bison, waterfowl and white-tailed deer. At Wolf Canyon, guests can hop out of the car to see grey wolves and American black bears or walk through the half-acre Eagle Aviary.

Full list of winners: Best Safari Park »

Best Zoo: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium wins Best Zoo for 2023

Continued investments have allowed Henry Doorly Zoo to continue to offer one-of-a-kind exhibits to guests, including the world’s largest indoor desert where arid plants and animals – meerkats, peccaries, quail, death adders, rattlesnakes and inland taipans, the world’s most venomous land snake – are visible inside a geodesic dome year-round in the heart of the Midwest. The $73 million African Grasslands exhibit features 28 acres of habitats and exhibit spaces for giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs and sable antelopes.

Full list of winners: Best Zoo »

Best Zoo Exhibit: Asian Highlands at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska

Asian Highlands at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo wins for Best Zoo Exhibit

The Asian Highlands exhibit at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo begins with visitors entering beneath a replica Himalayan ruin and then traveling along a footpath that takes them through “the southern foothills of the Himalayans.” Along their journey, visitors will observe Indian rhinos, sloth bears, red pandas, snow leopards and much more.



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