Internet Travel Monitor - Industry News

May 8, 2019

Visit These Readers' Choice Winners for the Best Summer Vacation

These are North America's best zoos, aquariums, safari parks, gardens and aerial adventures


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.

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.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Aerial Adventure Park are as follows:

  1. Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park - Branson, Mo.
  2. Kerfoot Canopy Tour - Henderson, Minn.
  3. Ramblewild - Lanesborough, Mass.
  4. Historic Banning Mills - Banning, Ga.
  5. Camelback Mountain Adventures - Tannersville, Penn.
  6. The Gorge - Saluda, N.C.
  7. Denali Zipline Tours - Talkeetna, Alaska
  8. Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures - Cape Canaveral, Fla.
  9. ArborTrek Canopy Adventures - Jeffersonville, Vt.
  10. Mega Quest & Mega Zips - Louisville

Best Aquarium: Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

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.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Aquarium are as follows:

  1. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies - Gatlinburg, Tenn.
  2. The Florida Aquarium - Tampa
  3. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas - New Orleans
  4. Texas State Aquarium - Corpus Christi, Texas
  5. Mystic Aquarium - Mystic, Conn.
  6. Newport Aquarium - Newport, Ky.
  7. North Carolina Aquariums - Multiple Locations
  8. Vancouver Aquarium - Vancouver
  9. Tennessee Aquarium - Chattanooga, Tenn.
  10. Aquarium of the Pacific - Long Beach, Calif.
Best Botanical Garden: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, Minn.

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.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Botanical Garden are as follows:

  1. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum - Chaska, Minn.
  2. Missouri Botanical Garden - St. Louis
  3. Bok Tower Gardens - Lake Wales, Fla.
  4. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Richmond, Va.
  5. Vallarta Botanical Gardens - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  6. Cheekwood Estate & Gardens - Nashville
  7. Atlanta Botanical Garden - Atlanta
  8. Chicago Botanic Garden - Chicago
  9. San Diego Botanic Garden - Encinitas, Calif.
  10. Montreal Botanical Garden - Montreal
Best Safari Park: Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Safari in Ashland, Neb.

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.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Safari Park are as follows:

  1. Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Safari - Ashland, Neb.
  2. Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center - Divide, Colo.
  3. The Wilds - Cumberland, Ohio
  4. Bearizona Wildlife Park - Williams, Ariz.
  5. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center - Glen Rose, Texas
  6. Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari - Jackson, N.J.
  7. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch - San Antonio
  8. Out of Africa - Camp Verde, Ariz.
  9. Lion Country Safari - Loxahatchee, Fla.
  10. Safari West - Santa Rosa, Calif.
Best Zoo: 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.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Zoo are as follows:

  1. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Cincinnati
  2. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium - Omaha, Neb.
  3. Saint Louis Zoo - St. Louis
  4. Fort Worth Zoo - Fort Worth
  5. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium - Columbus, Ohio
  6. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - Colorado Springs
  7. Riverbanks Zoo & Garden - Columbia, S.C.
  8. Memphis Zoo - Memphis
  9. Audubon Zoo - New Orleans
  10. Dallas Zoo - Dallas
Best Zoo Exhibit: Lied Jungle at the 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.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Zoo Exhibit are as follows:

  1. Lied Jungle - Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
  2. Reed Family Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley - Sedgwick County Zoo
  3. Judy and Jerry Kent Family Sea Lion Sound - Saint Louis Zoo
  4. Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear - Nashville Zoo
  5. Rocky Mountain Wild - Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  6. African Savanna - Fort Worth Zoo
  7. Sanctuary Asia - Oklahoma City Zoo
  8. Centene Grizzly Ridge - Saint Louis Zoo
  9. Painted Dog Valley - Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
  10. Simmons Hippo Outpost - Dallas Zoo
Congratulations to all these winning attractions! Visit 10Best daily to vote in other Readers' Choice contests.

Copyright 2019 The USA TODAY Travel Media Group. All rights reserved. From https://www.10best.com.
By 10Best Editors.
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