Spring has sprung, summer is closing in and families across the country are looking forward to summer vacation. To help plan that next kid-approved trip, we asked 10Best readers to vote for North America's best zoos, zoo exhibits, aquariums, safari parks, botanical gardens and aerial adventure parks.
Click on each category below to see the full list of winners:
Best Aerial Adventure Park: Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park in Branson, Mo.
Winning Branson attraction takes visitors into the trees of the Ozark Mountains — Photo courtesy of Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park
Branson’s Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park brings thrills to the Ozark Mountains. Visitors can enjoy a multi-level treetop ropes course, zip line canopy tour or the Vigilante Extreme ZipRider, Missouri’s highest zip line where riders reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour after a launch from 170 feet above ground.
Best Aquarium: Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
This reader favorite is home to some 10,000 sea critters — Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
More than 350 species are represented among Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies' 10,000 aquatic residents. Shark Lagoon, with its moving walkways through underwater tunnels, is the aquarium's biggest and most popular attraction, but kids love the interactive Penguin Playhouse, where they can come nose-to-beak with endangered African penguins both above and below the water.
Best Botanical Garden: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, Minn.
More than 5,000 plant species are on display at winning garden — Photo courtesy of Jason Boudreau-Landis, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Photographers Society
Visitors to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum enjoy more than 1,200 acres of manicured gardens, woods and prairies, accessible via 12.5 miles of walkable trails and garden paths. The vast space, divided into 28 named gardens and 45 plant collections, showcases more than 5,000 plant species and varieties. Highlights include a Japanese Garden, Daylily and Chrysanthemum Walk, Kitchen Herb Garden, Maze Garden and Peony Walk.
Best Safari Park: Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Safari in Ashland, Neb.
Winner features drive-thru and walkable wildlife enclosures — Photo courtesy of Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari
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, raptors 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.
Best Zoo: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Fiona the hippo is a star at winning Cincinnati Zoo — Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The Cincinnati Zoo (one of the oldest zoos in the nation) brings visitors nose-to-nose with a range of exciting animals. Guests can view hippos underwater (including superstar Fiona), pop up in a bubble amid meerkats or watch cheetahs racing at top speeds. The multi-sensory Night Hunters exhibit hosts cats and other nocturnal predators, while Manatee Springs seeks the long-term conservation of the Florida manatee by encouraging guests to observe these gentle giants.
Best Zoo Exhibit: Lied Jungle at the Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Winning exhibit features the largest indoor rainforest in the country — Photo courtesy of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is home to the largest indoor rainforest in America. The Lied Jungle features lush vegetation and a crashing waterfall, where gibbons, monkeys, tapirs, macaws and pygmy hippos reside. The rainforests of South America, Asia and Africa are represented within the space.
Congratulations to all these winning attractions! Visit 10Best daily to vote in other Readers' Choice contests.