10Best Places to See Penguins

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    Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN

    Penguin Playhouse at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg might just be the world's best penguin exhibit. The $5 million project includes indoor and outdoor exhibit areas with innovative viewing options. Crawl through transparent tunnels to see the birds from below or pop up to see them nose-to-beak.

    Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

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    Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

    Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo is home to one of the best, state-of-the-art penguin exhibits in the country. Here you'll get to see Humboldt penguins play in their own rocky tide pool complete with crashing waves, jagged cliffs and a beach. The exhibit was designed with the earth in mind, and its filtration and geothermal systems save 3 million gallons of water and 22,000 kilowatt hours of energy each year.

    Photo courtesy of Grant Bishop

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    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    The penguins of the Galapagos Islands are the world's northernmost species and live on the equator in a tropical climate. When you visit Isabela and Fernandina Island's you can not only see them, but hop in the water and snorkel with them. With no specific breeding season, it's possible to spot babies throughout the year.

    Photo courtesy of Spencer Thomas

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    Central Park Zoo in NYC

    Central Park is a great place to take the kids for plenty of reasons, the penguin exhibit at the Central Park Zoo ranking near the top of the list. The Polar Seabirds exhibit at the zoo is home to King, Gintoo and Chinstrap penguins, and you can see them feasting on fish twice a day at 10:30am and 2:30pm.

    Photo courtesy of Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

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    Oregon Zoo in Portland, OR

    The Penguinarium at the Oregon Zoo in Portland is home to an adorable group of Humboldt penguins, native to the coasts of Peru and Chile. This species of penguins has solid bones that help them dive, and you can watch them "fly" through the water of their comfortable zoo home.

    Photo courtesy of Oregon Zoo

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    Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, Canada

    You don't have to go all the way to Africa to see African penguins, thanks to Vancouver Aquarium's newly opened Penguin Point exhibit. Modeled after Boulders Beach in Cape Town, Penguin Point allows visitors to observe the waddling birds up close through the 180-degree viewing window.

    Photo courtesy of Meighan Makarchuk

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    Indianapolis Zoo in Indianapolis, IN

    If you want to see king penguins, head to the Ocean Building at the Indianapolis Zoo. You'll also see rockhoppers and Gentoos, and the exhibit's glass-bottom area lets you view penguins swimming beneath your feet. These cute critters even have their own webcam, so you can see them without leaving your couch.

    Photo courtesy of Gabi Moore - Indianapolis Zoo

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    Isla Magdalena, Chile

    In South America, your best bet for viewing penguins in their natural habitat is on the coast of Isla Magdalena in Chile. The rocky islet in the Strait of Magellan is home to more than 50,000 breeding pairs of Magellan penguins, which you can visit via an hour long ferry ride from Punta Arenas.

    Photo courtesy of dfaulder

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    St. Louis Zoo in St. Louis, MO

    Four species of penguins and two species of puffins make their home at Penguin and Puffin Coast in the St. Louis Zoo. The indoor-outdoor exhibit features an outdoor Humboldt penguin pool with a 22-foot waterfall, an indoor Penguin Cove -- the first walk-through sub-Antarctic penguin enclosure in the country.

    Photo courtesy of deliriant

About Lydia Schrandt

Lydia, photo editor and Readers' Choice Production Manager for USA TODAY 10Best, has traveled to more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia and North and South America, and has lived in Albuquerque, Galveston, Austin, Thailand, Korea, China, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and now Spain. When she's not at her computer in a cafe, she's out photographing the city, writing fiction or cheering on Barça.

Read more about Lydia Schrandt here.

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