TODAY   |  April 04, 2014

Family fun! Best zoos, museums, parks for kids

Mary Giles from Family Fun magazine shows Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb some of the top zoos, aquariums, museums and national parks you can visit this spring and summer with your family.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> time for today's travel. if you're looking for a great destination to tate kids, the foeb folks at family fun magazine has ideas.

>> they asked readers to rate their favorite destinations to come up with the annual travel awards. here with some of the hot spots that took the top honors is family fun deputy editor mary giles. nice to see you.

>> how did you pick? how could you possibly pick?

>> we scoured the country to find 400 of the most family friendly destinations out there. and to make our list, they had to have a reputation for excellence, it had to be a great value. all the ones i'll talk about today are free or $18 or less per person.

>> with zoos and aquariums.

>> and our families rated them. they're the ones who picked them.

>> let's start with the zoos and aquariums.

>> number one pick for zoos and aquariums is the henry doorly zoo in nebraska. this has three of the biggest exhibits in the entire world. they have a rain forest exhibit, families can pretend they're in the jungle.

>> like disney world .

>> i like that. another good zoo you like, toledo is number two.

>> toledo is number two zoo. that's where the hidden gems rose to the surface in these awards and toledo has 74 acres of exhibits and a lot of great new exhibits in the last two years as well. they have a great polar bear exhibit, a new elephant exhibit as well.

>> oh, look at that. let's go to museums. those are sometimes tough to get kids into, but you found some good ones.

>> we have really fun exhibits at muumu museums that rose to the top. the museum of science and industry in chicago . this is a super fun one. it is the biggest science museum in the western hemisphere . you can explore trains, go through a 727, an entire submarine. you can see a four story tall simulated tornado.

>> it is all interactive.

>> so interactive. lots of science.

>> this is the number one museum. and this is another really hidden gem that rose to the surface in our family fun awards. this is the straw museum in rochester. and this museum entirely devoted to play. it has the national museum of play --

>> sesame street .

>> toy hall of fame . you can dress a giant mr. potato head. you can play oversized games like connect four. you can see comic book heroes and some favorite toy characters there. really fun.

>> you say --

>> the number one site is mt. rushmore in south dakota .

>> so fascinating. i loved it. there is crazy horse nearby too right now. so --

>> and our family said you just can't understand how awe inspiring this site is.

>> it is unbelievable.

>> beautiful.

>> and now national parks , your last category.

>> the -- one of the favorite national parks was sleeping bear in michigan and the name implies, there are miles and miles of beautiful beaches here. and then the dunes you can climb on them. some are as tall as 300 feet. kids just love to climb up those, run back down them. and, remember, one national park is great smoky mountain park.

>> beautiful there.

>> it is. so beautiful. and that's exactly what our family said, they love the gorgeousness of this park. and the variety of thins to do there, from hiking and biking and kayaking and has a terrific program.

>> and affordable too.