15 Best Zoos and Aquariums in US

Monterey Bay Aquarium

June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month, so we looked at the top 15 zoos and aquariums in the United States and thought we’d share, since these are great places to visit for the whole family, especially now that the kids are out of school for the summer. Here are some of America’s favorite choices for zoos and aquariums.

America’s Best Zoos and Aquariums

  1. Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska. According to the online review community TripAdvisor, this zoo rated at the top of the list. Located in Omaha, Nebraska, this zoo was not only rated tops in the U.S., but reviewers rated it as the best zoo in the world! With lots of activities and programs, backstage tours and workshops, this zoo is said to be the best of the best. As an added bonus, it’s got an aquarium, too!
  2. San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California. This zoo has long been the “gold standard” of zoos, and is responsible for pioneering the open-air concept, with cageless animal exhibits that do their best to recreate natural habitats for the animals. If you visit this zoo, be sure to hop on over to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and check it out, too.
  3. St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri. This iconic zoo started out at the 1904 World’s Fair, and currently houses over 700 different animal species. The children’s zoo is sure to be a hit for the kiddos with its otter pool, hippo harbor, and sea lion show.
  4. Zoological Wildlife Foundation, Miami, Florida. This is a private petting zoo located just outside of Miami, where you can see lots of exotic animal species. You can enjoy a one-on-one encounter with a baby tiger, lemur, or monkey. The zoo’s website promises “a mind-blowing journey” when you visit. The Foundation is dedicated to educating the public about rare and endangered animal species in captivity and in the wild.
  5. Cape May County Park and Zoo, Cape May, New Jersey. This zoo is always free and always open all year long. Enjoy a conversation with a lion, tiger, or giraffe. Watch monkeys, cheetahs, zebras and lots of other animals at play. The zoo offers scavenger hunts and arts and crafts workshops for kids.
  6. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Right here in Current Catalog’s own backyard is the amazing mountainside zoo spanning 140 acres and housing more than 750 animals on the side of Cheyenne Mountain. America’s only mountainside zoo offers lots of exhibits and activities, including giraffe feeding.
  7. Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Home to more than 1,000 animals, you’ll find all kinds of exotic countries represented here, from Africa, to Australia, to Indonesia. Penguins and otters are always fun to see, and you can feed the giraffes here, too.
  8. Memphis Zoo, Memphis, Tennessee. This zoo has been a downtown attraction for more than 100 years and is home to over 3,500 animals from over 500 different species. One of the most popular exhibits is the Giant Panda, and this zoo has an aquarium on site, too. If you’ve ever heard the famous lion roar at the beginning of classic MGM movies, you may be interested to learn that it was recorded here, in the old Carnivora Building in 1944. The lion’s name was Volney.
  9. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans, Louisiana. A 400,000-gallon water tank filled with sea turtles, stingrays, and sharks is sure to amaze when you visit this aquarium in New Orleans showcasing aquatic life in North and South America.
  10. National Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland. This impressive aquarium opened in 1981, and since then has collected an amazing array of nearly 20,000 specimens of sea life representing 660 different species.
  11. Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, Oregon. Enter a breathtaking undersea world as you travel through the underwater tunnel of this cool aquarium, ranked as one of the top 10 in North America by Coastal Living magazine.
  12. Downtown Aquarium, Denver, Colorado. Have you always wondered if mermaids really exist? Well, they do at this aquarium! Be sure to visit and take in a live mermaid performance in the Under the Sea exhibit.
  13. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California. Your kids will learn that corals are animals, and not oceanic plants, and that the African penguin makes a braying sound that’s eerily similar to a donkey at this aquarium. Located on the California coast in beautiful Monterey, California, this aquarium offers sleepovers full of nighttime adventure for the whole family.
  14. New England Aquarium, Boston, Massachusetts. For a truly interactive aquatic experience, check out the “touch tank” at this aquarium, where kids and adults alike can reach out and touch sharks, horseshoe crabs, and stingrays.
  15. New York Aquarium, Brooklyn, New York. This location is home to the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States, and doesn’t disappoint with its sea lions, otters, walruses, moray eels and more. Located on Coney Island, there’s lots of daily activities available for the whole family to enjoy.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

From California to Florida, Colorado to New York, in the Midwest and down south, America has lots of choices for zoo and aquarium adventures for the whole family during National Zoo and Aquarium Month. So, go ahead — grab some peanuts for the elephants and lettuce for the giraffes, and plan a day trip to one of these award-winning family destinations.