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Kentucky's Ark Encounter, Creation Museum voted best in nation by USA TODAY readers

Kentucky's Ark Encounter and Creation Museums were both named among the nation's top religious museums by USA TODAY readers.

Readers ranked the Kentucky museums in the top two spots in USA TODAY's "10Best Readers' Choice Best Religious Museums" poll for 2023.

The Ark Encounter, a $100 million Christian theme park in Williamstown that features a five-story replica of the biblical Noah's Ark, topped the poll of 18 nominations with the most readers' votes. The ark's sister site, the Creation Museum, a 75,000 square-foot structure in Petersburg which demonstrates "earth history as God has revealed it in the Bible," came in second.

More:USA TODAY readers rank Louisville's Waterfront Park among nation's best riverwalks

Voting for USA TODAY's poll was halted during the pandemic, the release said, but the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, operated by Answers in Genesis, a Christian apologetics organization, both ranked in the poll in 2020 as well.

A woman walked away from the replica of Noah's Ark, at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Ky.  july 5, 2016.
A woman walked away from the replica of Noah's Ark, at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Ky. july 5, 2016.

"I'm thrilled that more and more families have been discovering and enjoying our wholesome, God-honoring attractions in our constantly changing culture," said Ken Ham, CEO and founder of both museums. "The voting confirms that our area is America's leading faith-based destination. I’m very grateful that our international attractions have been recognized like this."

The Ark Encounter opened in 2016, according to the museum's website. Guests can also visit a zoo, virtual reality experience, family programming and playground. The release estimates that over a million visitors flock to the ark each year.

The Creation Museum, about 40 miles from the Ark Encounter, features a "chronological retelling of biblical history in seven parts" via almost 150 exhibits that include animatronic dinosaurs, "talking heroes of faith" and displays that "honor God's word," its website states. It also has a 200-seat special effects theater, a planetarium, a petting zoo and nature trails. It sees about 500,000 guests annually, according to the release.

You may like:Everything you need to know if you're visiting the Ark Encounter in Kentucky

Other museums on the poll included Washington D.C.'s Museum of the Bible; the Biblical History Center in La Grange, Georgia; the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia; and the Loyola University Museum of Art in Chicago.

Contact reporter Rae Johnson at RNJohnson@gannett.com. Follow them on Twitter at @RaeJ_33.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: KY's Ark Encounter, Creation Museum take top spots in 2023 10Best poll