Reconnect with nature at the best zoos, safari parks, and botanical gardens in the US

Visiting zoos, botanical gardens, safari parks, dude ranches, and national wildlife refuges are great ways to get out and explore with our friends and families. You can enjoy beautiful blooms, observe animals you don’t often get to see in your daily life, and take in gorgeous scenery.

In our search to find the top spots across six categories, USA TODAY 10Best invited a panel of experts to nominate their picks for the best. Then, readers voted for their favorites to determine the winners — and the results are in.

Click on each category below to see the full winners list:

Best Botanical Garden: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical GardenCincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The gardens at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden include a Butterfly Garden with a variety of plants, a Dinosaur Garden of ferns and conifers, and an Endangered Species Garden devoted to the propagation and preservation of endangered plants. A spring highlight of the botanical garden is the 100,000-bulb tulip display.

Full list of winners: Best Botanical Garden »

Best Dude Ranch: Covered Wagon Ranch in Gallatin Gateway, Montana

Discover the beauty of wide open spaces at Covered Wagon RanchDiscover the beauty of wide open spaces at Covered Wagon Ranch

Discover the beauty of wide open spaces at Covered Wagon Ranch

First established in 1925, Montana’s Covered Wagon Ranch offers a glimpse into the rustic beauty of Big Sky Country. Guests are welcome to embark on a whitewater rafting, fly-fishing, or horseback riding expedition, then return to the property for a night of well-earned rest in one of the ranch’s cozy one- or two-bedroom log cabins.

Full list of winners: Best Dude Ranch »

Best National Wildlife Refuge: Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City, Iowa

Spot wildlife while hiking on the many trails at Neal Smith National Wildlife RefugeSpot wildlife while hiking on the many trails at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

Spot wildlife while hiking on the many trails at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

Home to herds of American bison and elk, the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City, Iowa, serves as a living example of the historic prairie landscape, offering visitors the chance to observe these iconic species in a natural setting. The refuge is also known for its efforts to restore and preserve tallgrass prairie habitats once prevalent across the Midwest.

Full list of winners: Best National Wildlife Refuge »

Best Safari Park: Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park in Ashland, Nebraska

Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park wins Best Safari Park for third year in a rowLee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park wins Best Safari Park for third year in a row

Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park wins Best Safari Park for third year in a row

An accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park invites visitors to drive along a 4-mile route through habitats populated by native North American plant and animal species, including American elk, bison, waterfowl, and white-tailed deer. At Wolf Canyon, guests can hop out of the car to see grey wolves and American black bears or walk through the half-acre Eagle Aviary.

Full list of winners: Best Safari Park »

Best Zoo: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and AquariumOmaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Continued investments have allowed Henry Doorly Zoo to continue to offer one-of-a-kind exhibits to guests, including the world’s largest indoor desert where arid plants and animals — peccaries, quail, death adders, rattlesnakes, and inland taipans, the world’s most venomous land snake — are visible inside a geodesic dome year-round in the heart of the Midwest.

The $73 million Scott African Grasslands exhibit features 28 acres of habitats and exhibit spaces for meerkats, giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs, and sable antelopes.

Full list of winners: Best Zoo »

Best Zoo Exhibit: Desert Dome at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and AquariumOmaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Measuring in at 84,000 square feet across two floors, the Henry Doorly Zoo’s Desert Dome serves as the largest indoor desert on all of planet Earth. This towering structure is divided into three separate sections — Namib Desert, Red Center of Australia, and Sonoran Desert, to be precise — with a massive array of native reptiles, birds, mammals, and plants all highlighting the fascinating flora and fauna that thrive in these arid environments.

Full list of winners: Best Zoo Exhibit »

Congratulations to all these winners! Remember to visit 10best.usatoday.com daily to vote in our other Readers’ Choice Awards contests.

This article originally appeared on 10Best.com: Best zoos, botanical gardens, and dude ranches in the US

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