Zoos in the Midwest The good thing about zoos in the Midwest is that they're not limited to the classic conception of animals behind bars; in fact, you probably won't find many like that. Instead you'll encounter zoos that look more like homes for the thousands of animals that roam the green fields, rainforests, savannahs, and other simulated ecosystems. You'll also get a chance to visit farms—both farms set up for tourists and real working farms that may let passers-by in for an informal tour…Midwesterners are known, after all, for their friendliness and hospitality.
In St. Louis you can visit Purina Farms, a fascinating excursion for pet owners who want to learn more about their pets and about pet food. At Purina Farms you'll get a tour of the plant, plus get a chance to visit the farm and the petting zoo. Other non-traditional zoos in St. Louis include Butterfly World (a magical, colorful place for children and adults of all ages), and Grant's Farm.
Many of the zoos in the Midwest are perfectly set up for children: In addition to animal exhibits and educational displays, many of them, like the Kansas City Zoo for example, offer children's play areas—perfect for kids who need to let loose and run around for a little bit. And the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is considered a world-class zoo, definitely worth a visit.
Best Midwest Aquariums One of the best Midwest aquariums is also one of the best aquariums in the country—the John G. Shedd Aquarium located in Chicago. It is also known as the world's largest indoor aquarium. Here you'll find millions of gallons of water (literally) with thousands of species of fish and other underwater creatures.
Other cities also host their own aquariums, and while they may be smaller than Chicago's mega-aquarium, they're still worth a visit, especially if you're looking for a fun, educational activity for your kids. Aquariums make great tourist destinations for rainy or snowy days.
Midwest Zoos and Aquariums - Michigan, Illinois, Missouri In cities like New York City or Washington, D.C., where space is limited, zoos can tend to feel cramped. In the Midwest, on the other hand, space is really less of a concern. What this means is that you'll find that the Midwest zoos and aquariums (like those in Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri) are big. Really big. The animals have ample space to roam around, which means you and your family can really spend an entire day walking (or riding in some cases) from exhibit to exhibit. The animals range from everyday farm animals to exotic animals that you'd otherwise find only in the rainforests of Brazil or the African deserts.
While planning your family's travel itinerary, consider putting at least one, if not more, zoos or aquariums on your list—your kids will thank you!
Major Tourist Attractions in the Region
Como Zoo - Saint Paul, Minnesota
Brookfield Zoo - Illinois
John G. Shedd Aquarium - Chicago, Illinois
Grant's Farm - St. Louis, Missouri
Saint Louis Zoo - Missouri
The Butterfly House - St. Louis, Missouri
Lincoln Park Zoo - Chicago, Illinois
Little Rock Zoo - Arkansas
Cosley Zoo - Wheaton, Illinois
Kansas City Zoo - Missouri
Henry Vilas Zoo - Madison, Wisconsin
Dickerson Park Zoo - Springfield, Missouri
International Crane Foundation - Baraboo, Wisconsin
Mackinac Island Butterfly House - Michigan
Purina Farms - Gray Summit, Missouri
Wild Canid Survival & Research Center - Eureka, Missouri
Lake Superior Zoological Gardens - Duluth, Minnesota
Milwaukee County Zoological Gardens - Wisconsin
Minnesota Zoological Garden - Apple Valley, Minnesota
Racine Zoological Gardens - Wisconsin
American National Fish & Wildlife Museum - Springfield, Missouri