Top 10 Museums, Zoos, & Aquariums
1. Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History: Washington, DC (Score: 92)
Home to the famous Hope Diamond, among countless other amazing objects (actually, some dedicated civil servant did count them: there are more than 127 million), this branch of the Smithsonian Institution is the ultimate discovery center. Some families can't get enough of the dinosaur hall and the immersive live butterfly pavilion. Others make a beeline for the entomology collections -- more than 35 million creepy-crawly specimens -- and the live tarantula feedings at the insect zoo. Whatever you're drawn to, you're bound to spend many enthralling hours here.
2. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium: Omaha, NE (Score: 92)
"The most amazing zoo I've ever seen!" gushed a North Dakota mom about this crowd-pleaser on the Plains. The 130-acre zoo houses thousands of animals in extravagantly re-created habitats. Guests can wend their way through the world's largest indoor desert, gaze upon a tropical rain forest populated by macaws and gibbons, and traverse a window-lined tunnel through a valley where gorillas roam -- and be amazed every step of the way.
3. Saint Louis Zoo: St. Louis, MO (Score: 92)
Did you know the snow leopard, native to the mountains of central Asia, is able to leap 30 feet in a single bound? You can bet your 6-year-old does -- or will after a visit to the Saint Louis Zoo. Divided into seven beautifully realized zones, the park features everything from petting-zoo bunnies to the rarest of big cats, all presented with a message of conservation and good stewardship. The best part, parents told us: admission is free, so you don't feel pressured to see it all in one day.
4. Museum of Science and Industry: Chicago, IL (Score: 92)
5. Museum of Science: Boston, MA (Score: 91)
6. Steinhart Aquarium: San Francisco, CA (Score: 91)
7. Smithsonian's National Museum of American History: Washington, DC (Score: 91)
8. The Field Museum: Chicago, IL (Score: 91)
9. Shedd Aquarium: Chicago, IL (Score: 91)
10. Tennessee Aquarium: Chattanooga, TN (Score: 91)