Winter held on tight this year, but it seems that in most places, spring has finally arrived. 10Best wants to cure your cabin fever by finding North America's best wild places (without leaving the city) – zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks and botanical gardens where you can get up close with flora and fauna from around the world.
But we need your help; we're asking 10Best readers to vote for their favorites in each category once per day until Monday, April 30 at noon ET. The top 10 category winners will be announced on 10Best.com and USA TODAY Travel on Friday, May 4.
Click on each category below to vote:
These nominated zoos excel at both animal welfare and visitor experience — Photo courtesy of iStock / abadonian
North America is home to hundreds of zoological parks, including 230 facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Short of heading out into the world's wild places, nothing beats a visit to the zoo to foster an appreciation for the striking animal diversity of our planet.
We asked a panel of zoo and family travel experts to nominate their favorite North American AZA-accredited zoos –facilities that excel in the fields of animal care and enrichment, while also facilitating meaningful interactions between animals and human visitors.
North America's best aquarium? You decide! — Photo courtesy of iStock / shalamov
Aquariums put us face to fin with aquatic life from the world's oceans, lakes and waterways in a fun and educational setting. The best aquariums also play a vital role in animal conservation by taking part in rescue efforts and advocating for the environmental health of our oceans.
These 20 aquariums, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and nominated by a panel of 10Best experts, represent the best in North America for their high-quality exhibits and visitor interactions.
Best Wildlife Park
Go on safari, no passport required, with a visit to one of these parks — Photo courtesy of iStock / fabio lamanna
You don't have to fly to Africa to go on safari! At these 20 safari and wildlife parks, nominated as the best in the U.S., visitors get up close and personal with exotic and endangered animals from around the country and the world. Many of the facilities are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and have a focus on conservation as well as education.
Best Zoo Exhibit
Animal welfare and enrichment sit front and center at these nominated zoo exhibits — Photo courtesy of iStock / Michael_Dodd
A great zoo exhibit engages visitors with the animals they're observing while keeping the welfare and enrichment of its animal residents front and center. We asked a panel of zoo and family travel experts to nominate their favorite animal exhibits in North America (excluding aquariums), and now we need you to choose a winner.
Best Botanical Garden
Spring is the best season to visit these spectacular gardens — Photo courtesy of iStock / Martin Wahlborg
April showers might very well bring May flowers, but at the public and botanical gardens dotting North America, there's always something in bloom. The best gardens and arboretums on the continent, like these 20 nominated by our panel of experts, help to promote and conserve the plant diversity of our planet, all while showcasing their vast collections in stunning, visitor-friendly ways.
You can vote once per day in each category, and remember to check back on Friday, May 4 to see which places win.