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Trip List by worldmusician

The zoo list

8 Nov 2008  We love visiting zoos and seeing the differences between them.
2.5 of 5 stars based on 1 vote

Our family loves visiting zoos-it is our sure fire on even a rough stint on a vacation for a few hours everyone enjoys. Here are our ratings. Some of these zoos are based on dozens of visits-others are on just a few hours.

  • 1. Henry Doorly Zoo
    Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska

    This is one of the best zoos we've ever visited, and we did it on a whim as we drove through Omaha and were looking for a brief stop. The Desert Dome, Kingdoms of the Night, and the Jungle are in particular among the best zoo exhibits we have ever visited complete with realistic settings with native plants and displays showing predator/prey relationships.

  • 2. Audubon Zoo
    Audubon Zoo, New Orleans, Louisiana

    We haven't visited this zoo since the Hurricane in 2004, but we were truly impressed by this zoo including many exquisite animals including white tigers, komodo dragons, and white alligators. While it has a great collection of foreign animals, it does a great job showing the unique fauna of the Louisiana swamps.

  • 3. St. Louis Zoo
    St. Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, Missouri

    There are many perks to the St. Louis Zoo. This is a huge zoo with a huge animal collection. The animals are tremendously well represented with large, natural settings with multiple vantage points for seeing each of the enclosures. The animals are mostly presented in communal groups thereby given the opportunity to see animals interact. The sight lines are varied including windows into the enclosures and views from above and across exhibits. The new sea lion exhibit is very well done with its glass tunnel beneath it. The Rivers Edge exhibit is crowded but is well designed to accommodate them without feeling cramped. Likewise, my family really enjoyed the penguin and puffing house. We've visited several of the country's top zoos, and St. Louis is certainly among the best. Be ready for crowds as it is a free zoo, but it is worth facing the crowds!

  • 4. Alaska SeaLife Center
    Alaska SeaLife Center, Seward, Alaska

    The SeaLife Center is first and foremost a rehab center, formed after the Exxon Valdez spill. Today, it serves as a sperior demonstration of Alaska's maritime life including a phenomenal display of Alaskan sea birds and interactive tanks of anemone and other primitive sea life. The marine mammals provide a great display of the variety of life to found off of Alaska's coast. It's a little pricy to get in, but it is well worth it at the tip of Kenai Penninsula.

  • 5. Memphis Zoo
    Memphis Zoo, Memphis, Tennessee

    Aside for its giant pandas, this zoo does not have any amazingly unique animals you will not see elsewhere, it does a great job presenting the animals in a manner that allows them to have the privacy they need but also the visibilty that visitors want.

  • 6. Brookfield Zoo
    Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, Illinois

    As a Chicagoan, I am always proud of our great zoos, and Brookfield is no exception. Particularly notable at Brookfield is the Tropic World which shows Asian, South American, and African tropical animals in a huge exhibit which you look down into and its newer exhibits of Africa with richly landscaped settings. While parts of the zoo maintain old traditional concrete zoo exhibits, much of it is working on innovative new designs which are constantly be added to.

  • 7. Lincoln Park Zoo
    Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois

    Located in one of the most beautiful parks in America on the shores of Lake Michigan just beyond the Magnificent Mile, Lincoln Park Zoo is a wonderful oasis in the big city. It is renowned for its wonderful treatment of its great apes, an exhibit which has just been updated and expanded. It makes it worth visiting just to see this. While there, make sure to check out the wonderful conservatory right next door or take a walk along the beach across Lakeshore Dr.

  • 8. Vancouver Aquarium
    Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, British Columbia

    While not technically a zoo, this aquarium was the finest I've visited and included more than just a couple of fish. Its displays of marine mammals is outstanding, including primarily animals living off the coast of British Columbia. The displays of various marine life inside is equally impressive and well supported.

  • 9. Rio Grande Zoo
    Rio Grande Zoo, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    We took our 4 year old twins to the Albuquerque zoo on a day that topped out at 98 degrees and were pleased by many things. We are zoo connoisseurs and this zoo met our needs. They have a wide variety of animals, good sight lines, and sell maintained settings. The zoo's paths are meandering, so they isolate you from the crowds and make good use of a relatively small space. For us, best of all the paths are well shaded by trees, making it surprisingly cool despite the best of the day.

  • 10. Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari
    Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari, Ashland, Nebraska

    This is a drive through park which features animals native to the Great Plains. The animals are unabashedly shy about people, so you can drive fairly close to them and see them clearly. This is particularly true of the elk and bison. The bears are nearly impossible to find in their enclosures (they are not free ranging thankfully) but the large herbivores were a joy to see.

  • 11. Blank Park Zoo
    Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines, Iowa

    The Blank Park Zoo has become a regular stop for us on travels along I-80 from Chicago to points westward. It is a well apportioned zoo with quite the range of animals. The exhibits provide space for the animals while also providing great sight lines.

  • 12. Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum
    Tulsa Zoo, Tulsa, Oklahoma

    This zoo is huge in terms of its space. The exhibits are well placed throughout their space and are for the most part large and innovative in their use of space. While the zoo does not have an overwhelming number of different species, they do a good job of displaying them and giving each animal it's due attention. This is a zoo with a good deal of walking, which is pleasant provided that the weather is good for it. We visited with our 2 4-year olds, and we saw the entire zoo in about 3 hours, but they were quite tired upon arriving back to the car. I am excited about visiting again in the future because they have many exhibits in development that look really interesting. They do a great job with what they have right now and they seem to growing in a great direction..

  • 13. San Francisco Zoo
    San Francisco Zoo, San Francisco, California

    The San Francisco Zoo does a great job of providing space and a natural sort of environment for its animals. In particular, the grizzly bear and savannah exhibits provided great space for the animals to explore and interact with one another in a natural manner. The down side is that it creates issues for the viewing of these animals.

  • 14. Shedd Aquarium
    Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois

    The Shedd as its affectionately known is half old school aquarium with row after row of animals in flat glass tanks and half open air modern aquarium including belugas and other marine mammals. A favorite of mine as a kid was the large center tank including sharks and other large fish, especially at feeding time.

  • 15. Woodland Park Zoo
    Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington

    This zoo is notable not so much for the animals which it includes, but rather its presentation of them. This is perhaps the most beautiful zoo I have ever visited and the efforts put in to provide not only exhibits but rather environments in which their animals live is to be applauded.

  • 16. Milwaukee County Zoo
    Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Milwaukee is not a tremendously large zoo, but it is very well presented. It has a nice variety of animals and has a slower pace and less busy feeling from many other zoos we have visited.

  • 17. National Zoological Park
    National Zoological Park, Washington DC, District of Columbia

    For all of the hype about the National Zoo, it is really quite a let down. They are notable for having Chinese loaned pandas, but they are not presented well for viewing and are much overemphasized. The zoo is very spread out and requires more effort than it is worth to see its average collection of animals.

  • 18. Henry Vilas Zoo
    Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison, Wisconsin

    This is hands down the best free zoo I have ever been to. It has a wonderful assortment of animals, displayed in fairly spacious, natural settings. The sight lines in the exhibits allow for clear viewing of the animals. You could easily spend several hours perusing this zoo. Concessions are relatively inexpensive as well. Great zoo with an even better price!

  • 19. Nashville Zoo
    Nashville Zoo, Nashville, Tennessee

    The Nashville Zoo is beautifully landscaped and provides a placement for the animals within the rolling, wooded hills of central Tennessee. This is a zoo with a great deal of promise, that just hasn't arrived quite yet. It is very spread out, and the walkways are a little narrow, especially on a crowded weekend. While the enclosures are exquisitely well done, they are quite far apart, making it a little rough on short legs climbing up and down hills-a lot of walking with a limited amount to see. With that said, what they have is extremely well done; we just weren't sure if it was worth the $14 admission price.

  • 20. Niabi Zoo
    Niabi Zoo, Coal Valley, Illinois

    The Niabi Zoo is a small town zoo with an impressive collection. Every animal is a star here. The zoo is slowly being developed and improved from traditional, concrete enclosures to more spacious areas. It was an enjoyable stop for an hour or two.

  • 21. Miller Park Zoo
    Miller Park Zoo, Bloomington, Illinois

    My wife and I attended college in Bloomington-Normal, and this was our first zoo together. It is a strikingly impressive zoo for such a small town. Its wallaby walk allows you to walk through the exhibit of Australian animals and its rehab area, at least years ago, included a tiger. It was unique to sit in small town America and hear the large cats roaring away at dusk.

  • 22. Alaska Zoo
    Alaska Zoo, Anchorage, Alaska

    The Alaska Zoo provides a great opportunity to see some of the wildlife that you might have otherwise missed as you toured Alaska. Save for a small collection of non-native animals including Amur tigers and Tibetan yak, the broad majority of the animals live within the state and are shown in large exhibits with native fauna as the animals might be seen in the wild, save without barriers.

  • 23. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens
    Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens, Hilo, Island of Hawaii

    It was interesting being able to see the world's rainforest animals presented in a rainforest presentation. While not a must stop in Hawaii, it was definitely a pleasant hour stop on our circumferal drive around the Big Island.

Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Anchorage, Hilo