Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (2024)

USA TODAY 10Best

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (1)

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (2)

Unique ways to engage with animals

Best Zoo Exhibit(2023)

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The best zoo exhibits not only educate, but also engage visitors by transporting them to another place – whether it be the foothills of the Himalayas, a Florida swamp or the Australian Outback.We asked a panel of zoo professionals and family travel experts to nominate their favorite animal exhibits in the United States, then readers voted for the best. Here are the 10 best zoo exhibits across the country for 2023.

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (3)Photo courtesy of Steve Goodall

No. 10:
California Trail at Oakland Zoo - Oakland, California

The California Trail at the Oakland Zoo invites visitors to investigate the role humans have played in shaping the ecology of the San Francisco Bay area. This popular exhibit "highlights the delicate balance between plants, animals, and humans, and the impact of change on all three." While exploring the California Trail, keep an eye out for American bison, black bears, California condors, eagles, mountain lions, gray wolves, grizzly bears and jaguars.

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (4)Photo courtesy of JoEllen Toler/Saint Louis Zoo

No. 9:
River's Edge at Saint Louis Zoo - St. Louis, Missouri

River’s Edge, the Saint Louis Zoo’s first immersion exhibit, opened in 2002 and today takes visitors on a journey through four continents. Wander the riverbanks of South America withcapybaras and giant anteaters, then journey into the African Savanna and Nile regions with black rhinos, hippos, hyenas and cheetahs. See the mighty Asian elephants grazing on grass or splashing under a waterfall, then go home to North America and Missouri’s wetland and river aquarium.

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Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (5)Photo courtesy of Amy Smotherman Burgess // Zoo Knoxville

No. 8:
Boyd Family Asian Trek at Zoo Knoxville - Knoxville, Tennessee

Zoo Knoxville’s Boyd Family Asian Trek "bridges the gap between curiosity and conservation." This beloved exhibit is home to Malayan tigers, white-naped cranes, silvered leaf langurs and white-handed gibbons. Guests can observe these species while climbing a multi-level tree house or walking across a swinging suspension bridge.

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (6)Photo courtesy of Brevard Zoo

No. 7:
Kayaking tour at Brevard Zoo - Melbourne, Florida

This Melbourne, Florida zoo is the only one in the United States to offer a guided kayaking tour around an animal exhibit. Family members ages five and up can enjoy a guided trip on the Nyami Nyami River in the Brevard Zoo’s Expedition Africa exhibit, floating past giraffes, ostriches, impalas, lemurs, zebras and more. Take a self-guided kayak tour through the restored Wetlands area in the Wild Florida exhibit for a more adventurous trip.

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (7)Photo courtesy of OKC Zoo, Jennifer D.

No. 6:
Oklahoma Trails at Oklahoma City Zoo - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma Trails at the Oklahoma City Zoo is a complex, 7-acre habitat that attempts to interpret the 11 various “life zones” within the state. More than 800 animals live within the habitat, and each of the 11 different life zones offers visitors a themed educational experience. Enjoy exploring such areas as the Ozark Highlands and the Black Mesa, while observing animals including bears, lions and alligators.

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Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (8)Photo courtesy of Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

No. 5:
Land of the Tiger at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens - Jacksonville, Florida

TheJacksonville Zoo and Gardens, which occupies more than 115 acres,is home to more than 2,000 animals from around the globe and 1,000 plants. While visiting, be sure to check out the beloved Land of the Tiger area. This exhibit provides a home for Malayan and Sumatran tigers, free to roam through the Asia Loop on a series of trails. Guests can see these animals from almost any angle while enjoying the 2.5-acre exhibit.

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (9)Photo courtesy of ZooTampa at Lowry Park

No. 4:
David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center at ZooTampa - Tampa, Florida

The David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center of ZooTampa at Lowry Park has been helping manatees since it was founded in 1991. It was the first manatee critical care center ever built specifically to care manatees who are injured or ill. Guests can observe the rehabilitation process in the recovery pools of Manatee Mangrove, and the non-profit organization hopes to inspire young people to protect these creatures.

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (10)Photo courtesy of iStock / slowmotiongli

No. 3:
Night Hunters at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Cincinnati, Ohio

The Night Hunters exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo takes visitors for a walk on the wild side. It was carefully planned to provide guests with a multi-sensory experience where they can observe a variety of cats and other animals who are nocturnal hunters. The animals here include the clouded leopard, the black-footed cat, fennec fox, vampire bats and aardvarks.

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Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (11)Photo courtesy of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

No. 2:
Rocky Mountain Wild at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado wildlife is front and center in this exhibit at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The 3-acre space is home to a moose wandering amid pine woods with his own small lake, mountain lions in a naturalistic rock canyon, the elusive Canada lynx, river otters playing in a pond, and grizzly bears roaming the mountainside.

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (12)Photo courtesy of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

No. 1:
Asian Highlands at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo - Omaha, Nebraska

The Asian Highlands exhibit at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo begins with visitors entering beneath a replica Himalayan ruin and then traveling along a footpath that takes them through "the southern foothills of the Himalayans." Along their journey, visitors will observe Indian rhinos, sloth bears, red pandas, snow leopards and much more.

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Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (13)About 10Best Readers' Choice Awards

Nominees are submitted by a panel of experts. 10Best editors narrow the field to select the final set of nominees for the Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers can vote once per category, per day. For any questions or comments, please read the FAQ or email USA TODAY 10Best.

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Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (14)The Experts

Chez Chesak

‘Chez’ Chesak is Executive Director of the Outdoor...ReadMore

‘Chez’ Chesak is Executive Director of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, an adventure travel writer, board member of the Society of American Travel Writers and 22-year veteran of the outdoor and travel industries. While he’s lived all over the U.S. and traveled to more than 30 countries, he has the most fun when he’s exploring with his wife Sally and two daughters. An avid outdoors person, he’s happiest on a trail, on skis, or nestled into a sleeping bag. Learn more about him and his work at www.chezconnects.com.

Chez Chesak

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (15)

‘Chez’ Chesak is Executive Director of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, an adventure travel writer, board member of the Society of American Travel Writers and 22-year veteran of the outdoor and travel industries. While he’s lived all over the U.S. and traveled to more than 30 countries, he has the most fun when he’s exploring with his wife Sally and two daughters. An avid outdoors person, he’s happiest on a trail, on skis, or nestled into a sleeping bag. Learn more about him and his work at www.chezconnects.com.

Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from theother Washington, where she...ReadMore

Corinne hails from theother Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's backpacked around Australia, taught English in Argentina and explored (so far!) countries from Cambodia and Egypt to Turkey and China.Corinne served as associate editor at Where magazine for five years; as a freelancer, she now writes for publications like National Geographic Traveler and Amtrak's OnTrak. Here in the lovely Northwest, she's attempting to debunk the rain myths, up her coffee and live music quotient and find her Zen near/on the water.

Corinne Whiting

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (16)

Corinne hails from theother Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's backpacked around Australia, taught English in Argentina and explored (so far!) countries from Cambodia and Egypt to Turkey and China.Corinne served as associate editor at Where magazine for five years; as a freelancer, she now writes for publications like National Geographic Traveler and Amtrak's OnTrak. Here in the lovely Northwest, she's attempting to debunk the rain myths, up her coffee and live music quotient and find her Zen near/on the water.

Nicky Omohundro

Nicky Omohundro is the founder and editor of ReadMore

Nicky Omohundro is the founder and editor of LittleFamilyAdventure.com, the popular family travel & lifestyle website that inspires families to leave no child left inside. Since 2013 LFA has been providing inspiration to get families outdoors, eat well, and travel everywhere from their own backyard to around the world. Always up for a family adventure, she has traveled to 37 states and 6 countries to zip-line through a Costa Rican rainforest, see Finland’s Northern Lights, and go camping throughout the US. Nicky is the co-founder of Tourism WorX a travel consultancy group. Connect with her Twitterand Instagram.

Nicky Omohundro

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (17)

Nicky Omohundro is the founder and editor of LittleFamilyAdventure.com, the popular family travel & lifestyle website that inspires families to leave no child left inside. Since 2013 LFA has been providing inspiration to get families outdoors, eat well, and travel everywhere from their own backyard to around the world. Always up for a family adventure, she has traveled to 37 states and 6 countries to zip-line through a Costa Rican rainforest, see Finland’s Northern Lights, and go camping throughout the US. Nicky is the co-founder of Tourism WorX a travel consultancy group. Connect with her Twitterand Instagram.

Nikky J

NikkyJ is a theme park super fan, Author of The...ReadMore

NikkyJ is a theme park super fan, Author of The Solo Theme Park Traveler’s Guide, the founder and owner of ThemeParkHipster.com, a wishful Food Critic, coffee enthusiast, and a lover of life! She currently resides in Orlando, Florida where she enjoys spending time with her husband and two little girls while discovering the beautiful attractions of Florida.You can watch her onYouTubeor listen to her podcast.

Nikky J

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (18)

NikkyJ is a theme park super fan, Author of The Solo Theme Park Traveler’s Guide, the founder and owner of ThemeParkHipster.com, a wishful Food Critic, coffee enthusiast, and a lover of life! She currently resides in Orlando, Florida where she enjoys spending time with her husband and two little girls while discovering the beautiful attractions of Florida.You can watch her onYouTubeor listen to her podcast.

10Best Editors

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original,...ReadMore

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original, unbiased and experiential travel coverage of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

10Best Editors

Best Zoo Exhibit (2023) - USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards (19)

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original, unbiased and experiential travel coverage of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

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