The $290 million Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield has been voted the number one new tourist destination in the country, according to a USA Today nationwide poll. The attraction – nearly ten years in the making – opened in September. According to Wonders of Wildlife, it’s the largest, most immersive fish and wildlife attraction in the world and is larger than the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
“We are honored that Wonders of Wildlife has been voted America’s Number One Best New Attraction,” says Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, noted conservationist and visionary behind Wonders of Wildlife. “This recognition is a tribute to hunters, anglers and conservationists everywhere whose significant contributions have been protecting our nation’s fish and wildlife for generations. We are deeply grateful to all of the remarkably talented artists, craftsmen and women, leading conservation organizations, biologists and other supporters who contributed to the creation of this facility, and to each and every person that voted – thank you!”
Americans were invited to cast their vote daily to determine a winner. Celebrities, including actor Mark Wahlberg and NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., advocated for people to vote in support of selecting the 350,000-square-foot museum for the top spot. Former Presidents Bush and Carter attended the museum’s grand opening event last fall.
The contest included 19 other destinations. Other attractions in the running included San Antonio water park Morgan’s Inspiration Island, Elvis Presley’s Memphis.
Jason Rima of Missourinet affiliate KSGF in Springfield contributed to this story.