Note from 10Best: Someday, we'll all be ready to pack our suitcases again and head out on our next adventures. In the meantime, we'll keep supporting the places that inspire us. As you await your next adventure, consider supporting your favorite attractions by donating or purchasing an annual pass or membership.
To help plan your next kid-approved trip, we set out to find the best zoos, zoo exhibits, aquariums, safari parks, botanical gardens and aerial adventure parks in North America. We asked you, our readers, to vote for your favorites, and the results are in.
Click on each category below to see the full list of winners:
Best Aerial Adventure Park: Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park in Branson, Missouri
This is the second win for this Branson attraction — Photo courtesy of Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park
Branson’s Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park brings thrills to the Ozark Mountains in the form of a multi-level treetop ropes course, zipline canopy tour or the Vigilante Extreme ZipRider. It's Missouri’s highest zipline where riders reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour after a launch from 170 feet above ground.
Best Aquarium: Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield, Missouri
Wonders of Wildlife also won in 2018 — Photo courtesy of Wonders of Wildlife
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 new 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.
Best Botanical Garden: Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware
Explore the flora of the Appalachian Piedmont at this winning garden — Photo courtesy of iStock / igaguri_1
The Mt. Cuba Center maintains a living collection of native and historic plants from the Eastern temperate forests of the United States, with a particular focus on the Appalachian Piedmont. Named gardens include a formal garden surrounding the historic estate, a research garden, a dogwood path and a meadow.
Best Safari Park: Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas
This winning wildlife park offers behind-the-scenes tours or a drive-thru option — Photo courtesy of Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
Situated in the hill country of North Texas just south of Fort Worth, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums) fights to conserve species in peril, while giving visitors the chance to learn about a host of animals and view them in spacious habitats.
Species living in the wildlife center include gazelle, American bison, oryx, lechwe, black-footed cat, cheetah, wildebeest, bongo, giraffe, kudu, zebra, addax, wolves and rhinos. Guests can drive through in their own vehicles or sign up for a behind-the-scenes guided tour.
Best Zoo: Fort Worth Zoo
Winning zoo was established in 1909, making it the oldest in Texas — Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Zoo
Established in 1909, the Fort Worth Zoo is the oldest continuously operated zoo in Texas and is home to more than 540 animal species from around the world. More than 100 of those species are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, and 68 are endangered or threatened.
An international leader in elephant conservation, the zoo recently opened the all new African Savannah — home to giraffe, zebras, hippos and black rhinos. An additional 10 acres of new exhibit space are in the works.
Best Zoo Exhibit: Asian Highlands at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
Rhinos, deer, sloth bears and tigers make their homes in this winning exhibit — Photo courtesy of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
The Asian Highlands exhibit at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo takes visitors through the foothills of Northern India to see Indian rhinos and Père David’s deer, and the Himalayan Mountains to spot sloth bears, Amur tigers and snow leopards. Guests enter the area by passing beneath a replica Himalayan ruin.
Congratulations to all these winning attractions!