Posted: October 10, 2013

Thousands of zoos and aquariums can be found in the United States with unique species of animals and extraordinary exhibits that provide entertainment and enrichment for you and your family. There are so many options throughout the country, so Airport Hotel Guide chose 10 of the best zoos and aquariums around the nation that are worth visiting this summer. Additionally, many of these aquariums and zoos are not far from our airport hotels, so if you need a place to stay we can help you with that.

10 – Tennessee Aquarium:

Tennessee Aquarium
Tennessee Aquarium (photo by Don Burkett)

Located in Chattanooga, the Tennessee Aquarium is well-organized with an expansive layout. Two separate buildings allow visitors to customize their viewing experience. In the "River Journey", guests will see river otters, alligators, giant catfish, and turtles. In the "Ocean Journey", visitors can view salt-water creatures including sharks and penguins.

9 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

Disney's Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom (photo by markwalters6)

While Disney makes it a point to distinguish Animal Kingdom from a zoo, the animal experiences in Disney’s Orlando park makes this location a prime hotspot on our list. Kilimanjaro Safaris takes guests on an open-sided safari vehicle through 100 acres of land filled with giraffes, zebras, elephants, hippos, lions, and more. Each expedition is different as many of the animals are free-roaming. Your experience can even include a high speed chase with an ostrich, if you are lucky.

8 – Audubon Zoo:

Audubon Zoo
Audubon Zoo (photo by Mark Gstohl)

Located in uptown New Orleans, Louisiana, the Audubon Zoo shows the history and future of the great city. The zoo’s most popular exhibit, the "Louisiana Swamp" shows the residents of the swampland surrounding the city. You will also find the zoo’s famous white alligators, which are a must see.

7 – Phoenix Zoo:

Phoenix Zoo
Phoenix Zoo (photo by Amy Meredith)

Phoenix, Arizona houses the largest non-profit zoo in the United States, the Phoenix Zoo. The Phoenix Zoo changes the typical layout of a zoo by spreading its exhibits along four trails. Guests can rollerblade or bike through the zoo, which allows your zoo experience to become a workout as well.

6 – John G. Shedd Aquarium:

John G. Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium (photo by Martin LABabble)

Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Shedd Aquarium has a variety of exhibits, from those showcasing Caribbean reefs to an exhibit allowing guests to view the animals of the Amazon River. Visitors should be sure to take in the aquatic show to see the talents of the aquariums marine mammals.

5 – San Diego Zoo:

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo (photo by Tim Evanson)

With its sprawling acreage and cutting-edge exhibits, the San Diego Zoo has been enchanting its guests for years. The Giant Panda Exhibit should be at the top of your list, as it is one of only a handful of exhibits showcasing the giant panda in the world.

4 – Monterey Bay Aquarium:

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium (photo by Conny Liegl)

Monterey, California welcomes you to their award-winning aquarium and uses their experience to teach the public about conservation. From birds to fish to reptiles, the Monterey Bay Aquarium boasts animals that are not found on exhibit at any other facility.

3 – Columbus Zoo:

Columbus Zoo
Columbus Zoo (photo by marada)

The Zoo in Columbus, Ohio is rich with history and respect. Well-known animal expert Jack Hanna has increased the reputation and prestige of the zoo, which grown to include a water park and golf resort.

2 – The National Aquarium:

The National Aquarium
The National Aquarium (photo by Mr. T in DC)

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the National Aquarium has a long-standing reputation among worldwide aquariums as being cutting edge. With exhibits like the rooftop rainforest and Animal Planet Australia, the National Aquarium has over 16,000 animals under their roof, so there is something for everyone.

1 – Georgia Aquarium:

Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium (photo by Rian Castillo)

Atlanta, Georgia is home to the Georgia Aquarium and four larger-than-life whale sharks. With over 8.5 million gallons of water exhibits, the Georgia Aquarium is large enough for the whale sharks, which can reach lengths of over 40 feet. With a variety of other sharks, giant catfish, sea otters, and polar bears, the Georgia Aquarium offers a variety of animals – some of which cannot be seen anywhere else in the United States.

Find a great, low rate on a hotel near all of these zoos and aquariums and all other summer vacation destinations with Airport Hotel Guide.

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