Look for the zoo's spectacular Desert Dome if you arrive in Omaha along westbound Interstate-80. It’s a must-see attraction, along with a stellar aquarium that expanded in 2012.
The dome, which offers a welcome dose of desert warmth during the winter months, funnels visitors through replicated slot canyons and past meerkats, kangaroos, javelinas and other desert creatures and cacti from around the world. Beneath the desert, the Kingdoms of the Night exhibit takes you through a simulated cavern where bats fly behind the glass and an eerie swamp where frogs and crickets chirp. Look closely to see possums, beaver and alligators in the dark.
The aquarium also takes visitors across the world, from Antarctic penguins and puffins to coastal tide pools with neon green anemones and fish as colorful as tie-dyed tees. Walk through the clear tunnel with turtles and sharks swimming overhead and let tanks of jellyfish mesmerize you, then head over to the Lied Jungle for a tree-level look at monkeys, chimps, sloths, miniature hippos and other creatures.
Grab a ride on the Skyfari by the adjacent butterfly and insect pavilion for a scenic trip above giraffes, cheetahs and monkeys before landing near rare rhinos. Don’t miss the Gorilla Valley, which puts you nose-to-nose with these giants, before checking out big cats, bears and orangutans.
With more than 1,255 species, an Imax theater and more than 130 acres, it helps to prioritize the exhibits—and know you’ll return for more. Admission charged.