If you’re an animal lover, you are likely interested in visiting places that let you learn more about the creatures we share our world with. In the United States, there are hundreds of places you can visit that provide unique animal experiences. From aquariums to National Parks and everything in between, there is no shortage of places across the country for all kinds of animal lovers. Of course, you want to check out places where the animals are treated well, so this is also a consideration.
So, we’ve put together a list of ten places in America that are perfect for animal lovers.
10 10. MANATEE SPRINGS STATE PARK
Manatees are an endangered species, and they are also one of the most unique and stunning animals out there. Luckily, there are quite a few places in Florida where you can see these protected creatures from a respectful distance. Manatee Springs State Park is located an hour away from Gainesville and is where many of these animals go during the winter months. From November through April, there is a good chance you can view manatees here. You can also enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking while getting a chance to view rare wildlife.
9 9. THE GENTLE BARN SANTA CLARITA, CALIFORNIA
While there are many farms and petting zoos across the country, The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita, California has a unique take. This animal sanctuary takes in animals that have been abused and has a focus on farm animals and other pets.
You can interact with and pet these animals and give them the love that they deserve. There are many species including dogs, cows, pigs, chickens, goats, horses, and more. This destination is especially great for taking children.
8 8. INSECT ZOO AT THE SMITHSONIAN
While many animal lovers are focused on the cute, cuddly creatures, there are many other species out there that are just as fascinating. The O. Orkin Insect Zoo at the Smithsonian is a great way to learn more about some lesser appreciated animals. There are many interactive exhibits that allow you to touch bugs. One of the most beautiful areas is the butterfly aviary. This is a one of a kind museum that will help you appreciate bugs and what they do for our world.
7 7. GRIZZLY AND WOLF DISCOVERY CENTER IN YELLOWSTONE
The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is located in West Yellowstone just outside the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It’s a not-for-profit park that’s focused on education and rescue. Here you can see grizzly bears, wolves, and more up close. All of the bears in this facility were rescued and given a second chance at life instead of being put down.
This is a great place to see these stunning carnivores and feel good about doing so. Plus, you can also easily check out Yellowstone and get a chance to see many other wild animals roaming free.
6 6. WHALE WATCH FOR ORCAS IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS
Orcas are probably one of the most easily recognizable ocean animals, and they have captured the hearts of many. These intelligent creatures might be associated with SeaWorld. But, instead of seeing them in captivity, there are many places where you can see them in their natural habitat.
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The San Juan Islands outside of Seattle is known for beautiful scenery and wildlife. There are many companies that provide whale watching tours to take you to see the orca and other wildlife in the area. You can also sometimes see them from the town of Friday Harbor or lime Kiln Point State Park if you're lucky.
5 5. SEE BUFFALOS IN SOUTH DAKOTA
While there used to be American bison all over the midwest, now they are much harder to find. However, there are a couple of places where you have a good chance of encountering these large herbivores. Yellowstone National Park is one such area, but you can also go to Balck Hills Badlands for a guided tour. This gives you the chance to experience South Dakota and the wildlife there including sheep, burros, and prairie dogs.
4 4. BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SANCTUARY IN UTAH
For many animal lovers, finding ways to support conservation and save the lives of animals is really important. The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is a no-kill shelter with locations in Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta. However, their location in Utah is the largest no-kill shelter in the country. This shelter usually is home to over 1,500 animals, and some of these have special needs. You can plan to help volunteer here and feel like you’re making a big difference. Also, the shelter is close to many beautiful outdoor parks including Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.
3 3. WILD ANIMAL SANCTUARY IN COLORADO
Many people want to get the chance to see wild and exotic animals up close. But, when doing so, it’s great to make sure you're visiting a location that is focused on education and that houses their animals in good conditions. The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado rescues exotic animals such as tigers, lions, and wolves. The area is over 700 acres which means that animals have a lot of space to move around. The other great thing about this sanctuary is it has elevated walkways that let you see the animals from above without disturbing them.
2 2. MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is probably one of the most well-known aquariums in the world. It’s situated right on the bay which means you can see the indoor exhibits and then look outside to the water.
There are often many wild animals around such as seals, sea otters, and even whales. Inside the aquarium itself, you’ll find a variety of colorful exhibits focused on education and rehabilitation.
1 1. WHALE WATCHING AND MORE IN THE ALASKAN PANHANDLE
Alaska is known by many people as being one of the best places in the world to see wild animals. Alaska is definitely the place to go if you want to see whales. Southern Alaska is an ideal area to take a cruise if you want to see stunning views and get the chance to whale watch. There are a variety of whale species that go through Alaska such as Humpbacks, orcas, and belugas. You’ll want to do your research to figure out the best times of the year and specific areas to see each kind of whale.