Bucket List December 04, 2022
by Sarah McCosham Here Are The 12 Best Destinations Across America To Experience Nature Indoors
There are outdoorsy people and indoorsy people. While the former are quick to jump on an opportunity for backcountry camping or an all-day
hike, the latter prefer to view nature from a comfortable and climate-controlled distance. That’s okay. Because here in America, we’re all about options — and just because some people prefer to be inside, doesn’t mean they can’t experience the wide and wonderful world, too. Here are the best destinations across America to experience nature indoors; these are awe-inspiring, brilliant and beautiful, indoor places that belong on any adventurer’s bucket list.
Monterey Bay Aquarium - Monterey, California
In the charming coastal town of Monterey, California, the marvelous marine world comes alive at
Monterey Bay Aquarium
. A world-class aquarium that's widely regarded as one of the best in the U.S., Monterey Bay Aquarium is celebrated for its thriving kelp forest that's home to wildlife like wolf eels and leopard sharks. For those into the ocean's more cuddly creatures, this aquarium also houses penguins and sea otters, the latter of which never fail to put a smile on spectators' faces. Adorable animals and captivating sea creatures aside, Monterey Bay Aquarium stands out for its commitment to conservation and education. The aquarium is home to a deep sea reef that visitors can not only experience, but also help conserve -- and Monterey Bay Aquarium doesn't shy away from provocative programming that covers tough topics calling on visitors to take action and affect positive change.
Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940, USA
Seattle Aquarium - Seattle, Washington
Most people associate Seattle with its outdoor scene -- the public market, beaches, and amazing recreation -- but the city is also home to one of the most wondrous *indoor* worlds in the country. Docked on the city's iconic Elliott Bay,
is an entire world unto itself, offering visitors the unique opportunity to spend the day with captivating creatures such as sea and river otters, seals, moon jellyfish, lionfish, and sea anemones. Known for its interactive and hands-on programming, the Seattle Aquarium is in the process of completing its Ocean Pavilion, a space dedicated to ocean conservation and community awareness and engagement. While the Seattle Aquarium certainly offers an amazing indoor experience, its message extends far beyond its walls.
Seattle Aquarium, 1483 Alaskan Way Pier 59, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Oregon Coast Aquarium - Newport, Oregon
The beaches and rock formations of the Oregon Coast typically steal the spotlight, but there's a world of indoor wonder in the state that's just as beguiling. The
Oregon Coast Aquarium
has over 15,000 animals, with numerous exhibits and interactive areas in its 23-acre facility. Known for its exciting and immersive programming, the Oregon Coast Aquarium offers an unrivaled underwater
for the inquisitive and curious. This indoor attraction quite literally
puts guests there
with "there" being beneath the ocean and quite literally surrounded by fascinating fish and marine life.
Oregon Coast Aquarium, 2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd, Newport, OR 97365, USA
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden - Dallas, Texas
Located on the shores of White Rock Lake, the
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
is considered by many to be one of the country’s most beautiful and colorful gardens. While known primarily for its outdoor exhibits and events, this garden has numerous indoor features worth seeking out, too. The Rory Meyers Children’s Garden is one such place; it's home to a spacious Exploration Center Plant Lab where even the littlest explorers can get a hands-on lesson in nature.
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, 8525 Garland Rd, Dallas, TX 75218, USA
Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium - Omaha, Nebraska
Smack in the middle of the Midwest, the
Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
is easily Nebraska's best-kept secret. Within the state, of course, The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is an immensely popular attractions for Nebraskans -- and for good reason. It’s one of the most highly-rated zoos in the country that's home to the world’s largest indoor swamp
indoor desert, plus hundreds of species of plants and animals. While it's rare to have both zoo and aquarium in the same space, this Nebraska attraction has both, and neither plays second fiddle. The Henry Doorly Zoo is considered one of the top five zoos in the world, and its aquarium is highly acclaimed, too. While not every exhibit here is indoors, there are many, many opportunities to experience nature inside at the wild and wonderful Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, 3701 S 10th St, Omaha, NE 68107, USA
Saint Louis Zoo - St. Louis, Missouri
Another Midwest gem, the
Saint Louis Zoo
is 90 acres of wondrous wildlife that's free and open to the public for exploration and enjoyment. Approximately 13,000 animals -- more than 550 species -- call the Saint Louis Zoo home, all but guaranteeing the chance to get up-close with your favorite members of the animal kingdom. Indoor attractions abound, too, with the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium a fan favorite that demystifies some of the world's most captivating crocodilians.
STL Zoo, 1 Government Dr, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory - St. Paul, Minnesota
Minnesota is home to one of the largest free zoos in the U.S. that somehow remains stubbornly under the radar. The
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
is 14.5 acres of amazing animals, many of which prefer to spend their days indoors. In fact, one could put together a robust
itinerary at the Como Zoo, admiring the penguins, exotic birds, reptiles, and fish that call it home -- and then there's an entire indoor plant world to explore, too. If you've visited the Como Zoo, you know that it is also a huge conservatory comprised of several buildings dedicated to the care and display of plants from around the world. The Sunken Garden is perhaps the most popular area, with paths bordered by water and plants. In short, Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is a beautiful, bucket-list worthy experience you can only have in Minnesota.
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, 1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, MN 55103, USA
Shedd Aquarium - Chicago, Illinois
A quintessential part of the Chicago lakefront,
has long captured the hearts of animal lovers young and old. Beluga whales, stingrays, saltwater fish, dolphins, and sea lions all call Shedd Aquarium home, providing visitors with an experience that's truly unparalleled. Some of the world's rarest animals reside here, too; one mammal you're unlikely to encounter anywhere else is the white-sided dolphin. There are only 20 within the North American aquariums, some of whom were actually born at Shedd. Since 1930, this has been a top attraction for locals and tourists alike, making the mesmerizing and marvelous marine world accessible for all.
Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S DuSable Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605, USA
Franklin Park Conservatory - Columbus, Ohio
A glorious gem in Columbus, Ohio,
Franklin Park Conservatory
is 13 acres filled with the world's most glorious flowers and plants. Several different biomes coexist within the conservatory, offering guests the unique opportunity to traipse from the humid Amazon Rainforest to the arid American Southwest without stepping foot outside of Ohio -- or even outdoors. For those into art, the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens boasts numerous pieces by acclaimed sculpture Dave Chihuly; these dynamic and colorful pieces compliment nature in the most enchanting way.
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1777 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203, USA
National Aquarium - Baltimore, Maryland
is an American icon that's a quintessential part of the Baltimore waterfront. It's located right on Baltimore Harbor, and its colorful facade is the first signal that this place is not your average aquarium. It's home to 800+ species of unique and colorful creatures, from jellyfish and eels to dolphins and stingrays. There are non-aquatic areas (and animals) here too; the Amazon River Forest is a whole world unto itself complete with amphibians, reptiles, birds, and even a two-toed sloth.
New England Aquarium - Boston, Massachusetts
Nestled on Boston Harbor, the
New England Aquarium
welcomes a staggering million guests each year. The popularity is well-earned; this waterfront attraction is home to the biggest shark and ray tank on the East Coast, as well as a Marine Mammal Center that's committed to caring for northern fur seals. You'll also find African penguins and sea turtles at the New England Aquarium, which boasts numerous hands-on exhibits offering bucket-list-worthy experiences such as petting live sharks and stingrays.
New England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110, USA
Alaska SeaLife Center - Seward, Alaska
For ocean enthusiasts, the marine wildlife of Alaska is unrivaled. The Last Frontier is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating places in the planet; its flora and fauna, sublime scenery, and natural wonders stoking and satisfying even the deepest wanderlust. While outdoor recreation and adventures abound in Alaska, you'll find some amazing indoor attractions here, too. The
Alaska SeaLife Center
is one such place; here you'll find seals and sea lions, salmon and rocketfish, king crab and sea urchins, and even avian species like red-legged kittiwakes and puffins. The Alaska SeaLife Center opened in Seward in 1998, with multiple missions as a non-profit, scientific research facility and public aquarium overlooking Resurrection Bay. In addition to its captivating creatures, animal rescue and rehabilitation is a major effort of the center, inspiring visitors to become stewards of our big and beautiful world.
Alaska SeaLife Center, 301 Railway Ave, Seward, AK 99664, USA
There are so many ways to experience nature in this beautiful country of ours — indoors and out. Gardens, greenhouses, zoos, aquariums, entire indoor biomes… these indoor destinations across America are sure to inspire any adventure seeker’s wanderlust.
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