10. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
SIZE: 11,773 animals on 90 acres
G. Jones/Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
- Has a Tidepool Touch Tank, where kids can feel sea stars and horseshoe crabs
- Operates a Baby Cam when the zoo has newborn animals; visitors can watch the infants bond with their mothers on TV screens in the zoo
- Is one of only two U.S. zoos to have Victorian koalas and one of three to have kiwi, an Australian bird
- Offers Stings, Wings, 'N Playthings, an insect-theme playground with a giant monarch climb and millipede slide
From walking though a new kangaroo yard to taking a boat ride past Komodo dragons and orangutans, the exhibits at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium are most impressive. And during the year, the zoo provides extra incentive to visit: a swarm of fun-filled special events.
On Wednesdays from June 23 to August 11, the zoo hosts Family Night in the Hollow -- with professional musicians, storytellers, craft tables, and a kids' jam session -- at Habitat Hollow, the 2-acre children's zoo. It will team up with the Columbus Children's Hospital on August 7 for its annual Teddy Bear Safari; kids can bring their bear to the park for free checkups and enjoy bear-theme programs and character visits. "Our goal is to make medical procedures -- even a routine visit to the doctor's office -- less scary for children," says Gerald W. Borin, Columbus Zoo's executive director.
Contact information: 614-645-3550; www.columbuszoo.org