Where are the Best Zoos in America?

October 14, 2019

Who doesn't enjoy visiting the zoo?

You get to spend the day with your family, see animals, and support conservation efforts. With so many zoos across the country, it's challenging to figure out which zoos boast top-rated adventures. Discover some of the best zoos in America with Tripster by reading our guide below.
best zoos in America

yanceycurtis / Pixabay

San Diego Zoo & Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,700 animals and presents a truly a one-of-a-kind experience, perfect for guests of all ages. I grew up visiting this zoo as a kid and have gone back as an adult, and the zoo just keeps expanding its programs and conservation efforts. See animal exhibits such as elephants, tigers, gorillas, monkey species, reptiles and more at one of the best zoos in America! Upgraded experiences include early morning photo expeditions, guided private tours, and 21+ evenings. Moreover, the zoo hosts an array of shopping and dining establishments as well as kids' programs.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park showcases 1,800 acres of land in the San Pasqual Valley area. Featuring more than 2,600 endangered animals from all over the world as well as 3,500 plant species, guests can choose from a variety of safari experiences. Experiences include, among others, the Cart Safari, Cheetah Safari, the Behind-the-Scenes Safari, and the Flightline Safari. This hands-on experience enables guest to get close to animals like Sumatran tigers, elephants, cranes, and more.

Oakland Zoo

Traverse from California to the plains of Africa, the world's tropical rainforests, and beyond at the Oakland Zoo. Housing 750 native and exotic animals, guests can see animals such as bald eagles, American bison, an Amazon tree boa, and many more! Further, the zoo hosts programs and events for entire family such as creek clean ups, family concerts, camps, festivals and more. The Oakland Zoo also houses a children's zoo so little ones can learn through exploration and hands-on fun.

Zoo Miami

Families can see, learn about, and feed intriguing animals at Zoo Miami! See beautiful creatures like tropical birds, rhinos, kangaroos, giraffes, and more at one of the best zoos in America! Travel the world in a day by visiting the Africa, Asia, the Amazon, and Australia areas, learning about 3,000 animals and over 1,200 plant species. With 340 developed acres, Zoo Miami is committed to animal welfare and conservation efforts, all while you survey and support them. Families can also participate in camel rides, play in one of the water areas, feed giraffes, and much more! Further, the zoo offers food and drink concession stands and a gift shop.

best zoos in America

Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

With 10,000 animals in six different regions, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium promises fun and wonder for every guest. See animals like arctic foxes, lions, kangaroos, Mexican wolves, flamingoes, grizzly bears, and Asian elephants. Further, guests have the opportunity to access the zoo before and after hours, take a behind-the-scenes tour, and gain exclusive VIP benefits. The zoo even hosts family camps, summer camps, overnight camps, and more! With so much to see and do, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is definitely one of the best zoos in America.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

From Gorilla World and Cat Canyon to the Lemur Lookout and Jungle Trails, there is plenty to explore at the Cincinnati Zoo. Walk through animal habitats and learn how we can help preserve endangered species through the zoo's educational programs, projects, and research. Further, the attached botanical garden features a butterfly garden, an edible garden, community gardens, tulip display, rain gardens, endangered plant species, and more. Peruse the gardens at your leisure for fresh air and beautiful sights. Also, families can look out for seasonal and evening events to enjoy at one of the best zoos in America.

close up of panda at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C. USA

Smithsonian National Zoo

While visiting Washington DC, don't miss out on the trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo! You'll especially want to visit the giant panda habitat, which attracts visitors from all over the world. Additionally, guests can see fascinating animals such as sea lions, vipers, tamarins, basilisks, and beyond! Check the schedule for animal feedings to witness, as you can potentially see keepers feeding Amazonian fish, electric eels, giant pandas, gorillas, and big cats. Families can also enjoy attractions such as a train ride, seasonal tide pool, carousel, playground, and more. Best of all, admission is free.

Bronx Zoo

Travel across the globe by walking through the Bronx Zoo! Spend the afternoon learning about animals such as gorillas, birds of prey, bison, giraffes, tigers, Komodo dragons, and many more. In addition, guests can enjoy a beautiful butterfly garden, camel rides, a train ride, and children's zoo during warmer months. Rides that operate year-round include a carousel and dinosaur safari experience. Looking to get even more active? Try the Treetop Adventure or the Nature Trek where you can challenge yourself on ropes and obstacle courses.

Woodland Park Zoo

When highlighting the best things to do in Seattle with kids, you can’t overlook The Woodland Park Zoo. It hosts over 1,100 animals and 300 species and is committed to wildlife protection, conservation, and sustainable living. The 92-acre park is separated into bioclimatic zones with animals from varied climates all over the world. See lions, penguins, tigers, lemurs, and more, all while learning about animal conservation.
close up of two lions in green grass at at the Indianapolis Zoo near Cincinnati, Ohio USA

Indianapolis Zoo

Discover your wild side at the Indianapolis Zoo! Guests can see animals hailing from the African plains, Antarctic tundras, dry deserts, vast oceans, and tropical rainforests for a full experience. We recommend looking for the youngest zoo animals, as the zoo strives to keep diverse populations protected and thriving. Further, families can look into zoo camps, overnight adventures, youth and family programs, and White River Gardens. The White River Gardens host 3.3 acres of gorgeous landscapes, including the Hilbert Conservatory, a 5,000 square foot indoor tropical oasis, and the outdoor DeHaan Tiergarten.

Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo presents one of the best things to do in Philadelphia with kids! From animal exhibits and life-size lego sculptures to swan boats and a ropes course, the zoo provides plenty of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. Learn about endangered species and what we can do to help preserve their habitats and ways of life. See everything from big cats and penguins to red pandas and giraffes. Also, look out for special annual events like Boo at the Zoo.

Denver Zoo

Housing more than 4,300 animals, the Denver Zoo is one of the best zoos in America. With a mission to research and conserve animal populations across the world, the zoo has commissioned over 600 conservation and research projects in 60 countries.

Related Post: Pet-Friendly Denver: Hotels, Breweries, and Restaurants

See animals like African wild dogs, lions, leopards, grizzly bears, pythons, and many more! You can even symbolically adopt some of the wildlife to help support their care, as well as attend family and youth programs and camps. The zoo also offers train and carousel rides as well as a 4D theater experience.
best zoos in America

Vicki Timman / Flickr

Toledo Zoo & Aquarium

Home to more than 10,000 individual animals representing over 720 species, the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium enables guests to travel all over the world in a single day. From the vast oceans and dry deserts to the lush rainforests and sweeping plains, the zoo has it all. Further, the Toledo Zoo participates in over 80 Species Survival Plans to keep genetically diverse populations thriving. In addition, the zoo offers special events and attractions such as Zumba classes, seasonal celebrations like Boo at the Zoo, and the Promedica Museum of Natural Discovery.

St. Louis Zoo

The St. Louis Zoo houses more than 17,000 wild animals representing more than 500 species of animals on 90 acres. Also, admission to the zoo is free, although keep in mind that parking in zoo's parking lots cost a minimal fee. Families can see a diverse animal collection from around the world such as polar bears, orangutans, snakes, penguins, grizzly bears, and meerkats. You can even adopt animals to support their care and habitats! With several interactive zones, including a children's zoo, and multiple feeding shows, the St. Louis Zoo is a must-visit!

Becker1999 / Flickr

San Antonio Zoo

The San Antonio Zoo hosts over a dozen exhibit areas including the “Bear Corner”, the “Big Cat Valley”, and the “Reptile House” so you can learn about and help to protect animals from around the world. Further, families can participate in feeding animals such as giraffes, and stroll through kangaroo, butterfly, and lorikeet habitats.

Promised Land Zoo

This top-rated wildlife park and animal attraction provides a personalized experience for guests of all ages. Family-owned Promised Land Zoo features live shows, a foot safari, numerous exhibits of rare and endangered animals from all over the world, and bottle-feeding experiences. At this outdoor zoo, guests can see animals such as kangaroos, zebras, big cars, lemurs, and antelopes. Note that animal encounters require an additional fee. Additionally, if you prefer the VIP experience, you can also encounter more animals to hold and take pictures with as well as ride the interactive tram tour through animal habitats.

Visit the Best Zoos in America

Now that you know which zoos to experience, where will you head to first? Discover the best travel ideas, discounts, and vacation packages with Tripster.

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Written By Talena


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  1. The zoo in Omaha, Nebraska is amazing. Nebraska you remember, the state you fly over or drive through to get to the mountains. The Henry-Dorley Zoo, you will be glad you did. And don’t forget to get a Runza while you are in Nebraska. you might find yourself wanting to put in a franchise on your home town.

    • Great advice, Nancy! Thanks! National Zoo Lovers Day is April 8th and we are prepping for the next zoo article to be released that day. Will be taking some of your notes to our writers! 🐅

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