Pair of Midwestern attractions atop USA Today leaderboard for tourism award

Missouri’s Wonders of Wildlife first in votes; Topeka‘s Evel Knievel Museum in fourth

A new Topeka attraction and a Missouri wildlife center are among those leading the vote for a prestigious national tourism award.


Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, located in Springfield, Mo., was joined by the Evel Knievel Museum — located at 2047 S.W. Topeka Blvd. — on the list of nominees for USA Today’s Best New Attraction for 2017.

The Topeka Capital-Journal previously reported about the Evel Knievel Museum’s nomination Dec. 5.

“We’re pretty darn excited,” museum director Bruce Zimmerman said in the article, which didn’t mention the Wonders of Wildlife’s nomination. “I’m not sure we’ve had this much attention on a national scale yet.”

At the time of that article, the Topeka Museum sat in second place, while Wonders of Wildlife wasn’t even in the top 10. As of Friday night, however, the Wonders of Wildlife Museum had surged to second place and the Evel Knievel Museum had fallen to fourth place. Readers can view the leaderboard at

When the wildlife attraction, the brainchild of Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris, opened in September, he called it the “Disney World of the Outdoors.” It recently added a live penguin exhibit called Penguin Cove. The exhibit houses a colony of Gentoo penguins, which are native to Antarctic, according to a news release. Santa also has come out to the museum to dive with sharks and hundreds of other fish in the aquariums.

Morris also made a splash this year with Bass Pro’s acquisition of rival outfitter Cabela’s, a purchase that totaled $4 billion after a year of negotiations.

Patrons will have the chance to vote once per day through 11 a.m. Jan 1, 2018.

Those wanting to vote for the Wonders of Wildlife can do so online at Those wanting to vote for Topeka’s Evel Knievel Museum can do so at

Read more about the Evel Knievel Museum’s nomination on our website at


Other nominees for the award are:

— The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, Springfield, Mass.

— The American Writers Museum, Chicago

— Artechouse, Washington, D.C.

— Cedar Point Shores Water Park, Sandusky, Ohio

— Elvis Presley’s Memphis, Memphis, Tenn.

— H20BX, Powell’s Point, N.C.

— The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

— The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

— Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles

— Morgan’s Inspiration Island, San Antonio

— Moxi, The Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation, Santa Barbara, Calif.

— Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia

— Museum of the Bible, Washington, D.C.

— Newport Car Museum, Newport, R.I.

— Opry City Stage, New York

— OWA, Foley, Ala.

— Songbirds Guitar Museum, Chattanoog, Tenn.

— Universal’s Volcano Bay, Orlando



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