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14 Best Zoos in the US : Wildlife, Safari, Aquarium in America

14 Best Zoos in the US : Wildlife, Safari, Aquarium in America

Updated 2 Jan, 2020
location_on United States

Zoos are amazing place for a family outing, school trip, off-beat travel experience, or a secret date. The United States of America is occupied with some of the best zoo in the world.

Zoos gives an opportunity to the travellers, who want to do something offbeat and have an interest in exploring the vibrant wildlife of different places at one place. Find the best Zoos in the USA where can you find the rare wild animals, birds and reptile species, and learn about the entry timing and ticket fee.

1. Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington DC - Free admission to all

location_on Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Smithsonian National Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States and was built in 1889.

The zoo is also best for children where many events are also held to spread knowledge among the little kids about animals and nature.

Top attractions at Smithsonian National Zoo

Panda, Alligators, Flamingo, Lizards, Bison, Asian Elephants, Pythons, Cheetah, Lion, Tigers, Otters are some among 2700 animals that represent more than 390 species housed at the zoo.

Operating hours of zoo for visitors

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyday
In summers the closing hour is 7 p.m.

Ticket prices

The admission to the Smithsonian National Zoo is free.

Smithsonian National Zoo is located at the Connecticut Avenue in Washington DC, USA and is built in an area of more than 163 acres.

Find more on Smithsonian National Zoo website here.

2. Philadelphia Zoo - Best Family Zoo and oldest in America

location_on Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo is a family zoo built in 1859 and opened in 1874 (delayed by the Civil war), which makes it the oldest zoo in the United States.

Top attractions at Philadelphia Zoo

It houses more than 1300 animals including many rare and endangered species.
Spider Monkey, Lemur, Gazelle, Orangutan, Golden Frog, Chinese Alligator, Fruit Bat, Lowland Gorilla, Bali Mynah are the popular Mammls, birds and reptiles at Philadelphia Zoo.

Operating hours of zoo for visitors

9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyday

Ticket price at Philadelphia Zoo

  • $24 for Adults( ages 12+) and $19 for Children (ages 2 - 11) from mid-March to October
  • $16 for both Adults( ages 12+) and Children (ages 2 - 11) from November to mid-March
  • $16 per vehicle for parking
  • Free for children below ages 2 years

Philadelphia Zoo is located at the Centennial district of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, America and built in an area of more than 42 acres.

Find more on Philadelphia Zoo website here.

3. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

location_on Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is the second oldest zoo in the United States of America and was opened in 1875.

Top attractions at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Popular animals are Ring-Tailed Lemur, African Lion, Painted Dogs, Arctic Fox, Asian Elephant, Black Howler Monkey, Bobcat, Cheetah, Clouded Leopard, Macaw, Indian Rhinoceros, Manatee, Gibbon, Hippopotamus and many other wildlife species

It also houses a botanical garden is a great place for education, research and comprises of great trees and plants.

Timing of zoo for Visitors

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Everyday.
Zoo might stay open till late when it has some ongoing festival

Ticket prices

Admission fee to Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is varying based on demand and seasonality

  • $15 to $22 for Adults ( ages 13 - 61 )
  • $9 to $14 for Children( ages 2 - 12 )
  • $9 to $14 for Seniors ( ages 61 and up )
  • $10 per vehicle for parking
  • Free for children below ages 2 years

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is located at Avondale neighbourhood of Cincinnati, Ohio in America and built in an area of more than 75 acres.

Find more on Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden website here.

4. St. Louis Zoo in Missouri - Best for Children

location_on Saint Louis Zoo

Saint Louis Zoological Park is recognised as a leading American zoo in animal management, conservation, research and education.

Top attractions at St. Louis Zoo

It is home to 17000 individual animals across 700 species.
Popular animals to discover are Red Panda, American Alligator, Chinese Alligator, Puffins, Ostrich, Owls, Penguins, Pigeons, Rabbits, Hedgehogs, Leopards, Tigers, Lions and many rare animals too.

St. Louis Zoo also includes an Insectarium, Penguin and Puffin Coast, Children’s Zoo, 4-D cinema and Zooline Railroad.

Operating hours of zoo for visitors

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Thursday
8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Ticket prices

The admission to the St. Louis Zoo is free. But a fee of $3 to $5 is charged form some attractions like Sea Lion Show, Stingrays at Caribbean Cove, Safari Tours.

St. Louis Zoo is located at Forest Park in St. Louis in Missouri, US and is built in an area of more than 90 acres.

Find more on St. Louis Zoo website here.

5. Oregon Zoo - Top American Family zoo

location_on Oregon Zoo

Oregon Zoo is a top American family zoo, and it was originally called the Portland zoo and later on Washington Park Zoo.

Top attractions at Oregon Zoo

Popular animals are De Brazza's monkey, Asian Elephant, Rock Python, Painted Dog, Beaver, Bald Eagle, Hornbill, Black Rhinoceros, Condor, Cheetah and many other wildlife and rare species

You can also organise a tour here for students, family or other group.

Timing of zoo for Visitors

9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Everyday
Open till 4 pm in the non-summer months

Ticket prices

  • $17.95 for Adults ( ages 12 and up)
  • $12.95 for Children ( ages 3-11 )
  • $12.95 for Seniors ( ages 61 and up )
  • Free for children below ages 2 years

Oregon Zoo is located at Washington Park, Portland, Oregon in the USA and built in an area of more than 64 acres.

Find more on Oregon Zoo website here.

6. Bronx Zoo - Largest in the United States

location_on Bronx Zoo

Bronx Zoo is a top zoo for kids and area-wise, it is the largest zoo in the entire United States of America. The zoo is quite popular too and receives more than 2 million visitors in a year.

Top attractions at Bronx Zoo

It has amazing overall experiences like Children's Zoo, Congo Gorilla Forest, Butterfly Garden, Penguin and Sea Lion feedings.

Discover animals around African plains, Madagascar, Himalayan highlands, many birds, reptiles, mouse species and more.

You can also enjoy rides like Bug Carousel, Camel ride and Monorail ride.

Operating hours of zoo for visitors

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyday
Zoo closes earlier during the winter

Ticket prices at Bronx Zoo

  • $29.95 for Adults ( ages 13 - 64 )
  • $22.95 for Children ( ages 2 - 12 )
  • $28.95 for Seniors ( ages 65 and up )
  • Free for children 2 years and under
  • $17 for Car Parking

Bronx Zoo is located at Bronx Park, a borough of New York City, US and built in an area of more than 265 acres.

Find more on Bronx Zoo website here.

7. San Diego Zoo, California - No. 1 Zoo in the world

location_on San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo is one of the best family zoos in America and voted as number o Zoo in the world.

Top attractions at San Diego Zoo

The park has San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and SeaWorld® San Diego.
The zoo has more than 3700 animals belonging to more than 660 species and subspecies. The zoo is also home to the largest community of Koalas outside Australia.
Discover Leopard, Anaconda, Arctic fox, Weaver, Bonobo, Camel, Cheetah, Clouded leopard, Elephant and many great plants too.

Operating hours of zoo for visitors

9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Everyday during Summer
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyday during Winter

Ticket prices at San Diego Zoo

  • $58 for Adults ( ages 12 and up )
  • $48 for Children ( ages 2 - 11 )
  • Free for children 2 years and under
  • extra $6 for Plus pass (with a choice of one 4-D Theatre experience)
  • extra $34.80 for 2-Visit pass among San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park

There are also lot of options for Multi-day Pass and and Membership available.

San Diego Zoo is located at Balboa Park in San Diego, California, US and is built in an area of more than 99 acres.

Find more on San Diego Zoo website here.

8. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium - Best Zoo in Nebraska

location_on Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium got started with the mission of conservation, recreation, research and education

Top attractions at Omaha's Zoo

Explore the exhibits of Asian highlands, Scott African grasslands, desert dome, Hubbard gorilla valley, Hubbard orangutan forest, Suzanne and Walter Scott aquarium, Mahoney kingdom of the night.

These exhibits features the rare animals found in that particular landscape that gives a great opportunity for kids to increase their knowledge.

Operating hours of zoo for visitors

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyday during Summer
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Everyday during Winter

Ticket prices at Omaha's Zoo

  • $15.95 for Adults ( ages 12 - 65 )
  • $10.95 for Children ( ages 2 - 11 )
  • $14.95 for Senior ( ages 65 and up )
  • Free for children 2 years and under

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is located at 3071 South Street in Omaha, Nebraska in the US and is built in an area of more than 160 acres.

Find more on Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium website here.

9. Houston Zoo, Texas - Top rated Zoo of US

location_on Houston Zoo

Houston Zoo is a top rated and the second most popular zoo in America that receives more than 2 million visitors in a year.

Top attractions at Houston Zoo

The zoo is occupied with more than 9000 animals of more than 960 species.
Its 15 exhibits are home to many wild animals like Victoria Crowned Pigeon, Lions, Tigers, Beers, Alligators, Anteater, Bats, Chimpanzee, Cougar, Jaguar, Flamingo, Gibbon, Komodo Dragon, King Cobra, Macaw, Black Mamba, Moon Jelly, Alligator, Cheetah and many other rare species.

Operating hours of Zoo for visitors

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Everyday during Summer
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Everyday during Winter

Ticket prices at Houston Zoo

  • $19.95 for Adults ( ages 12 - 65 )
  • $15.95 for Children ( ages 2 - 11 )
  • $14.95 for Senior ( ages 65 and up )
  • Free for children 2 years and under
  • $4 for Wildlife Carousel - One Ride

Houston Zoo is located at Hermann Park in Houston, Texas, USA. and is built in an area of more than 55 acres.

Find more on Houston Zoo website here.

10. Brookfield Zoo - Best Family Zoo in Illinois

location_on Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo is a famous family zoo in America and it is also called Chicago zoological park.

Top attractions at Brookfield Zoo

There are more than 450 species of animals like Tigers, Polar Bear, Wombats, Fishing Cat, Dolphins, Penguins, Gorilla, Wolf, Kangaroo, Rhinoceros, Eagle, Zebra, Seal, Giraffe and many more. Many informative events are also held there from time to time to increase awareness about animal’s conservation.

Operating hours of Zoo for visitors

9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Everyday
During winters the zoo opens late and closes early

Ticket prices at Brookfield Zoo

  • $21.95 for Adults ( ages 12 - 65 )
  • $15.95 for Children ( ages 2 - 11 )
  • $15.95 for Senior ( ages 65 and up )
  • Free for children 2 years and under
  • $14 fee for Car Parking

Brookfield Zoo is located at Chicago suburb of Brookfield in Illinois, US and built in an area of more than 216 acres.

Find more on Brookfield Zoo website here.

11. Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens - Best Zoo in South Carolina

location_on Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Riverbanks zoo and gardens is a network of zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens and is amazing for spending a day out with your family.

Top attractions at Riverbanks zoo

The Zoo is home to many wild animals like Lions, Zebra, Baboon, Giraffe, Komodo Dragon, Tapir, Koala, Lorikeet, Kangaroos, Wallaby, Sea Lions, Grizzly Bear, Seal, Otter and many more that are provided their in natural exhibit.

The botanical gardens here is home to many great plants from around the world.

Operating hours of Zoo for visitors

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyday

Ticket prices at Riverbanks zoo

  • $19.95 for Adults ( ages 13 - 61 )
  • $16.95 for Children ( ages 2 - 12 )
  • $17.95 for Senior ( ages 62 and up ) and Military (with military ID)
  • Free for children 2 years and under

Riverbanks zoo is located along the Saluda river in Columbia, South Carolina, US and is built in an area of more than 170 acres.

Find more on Riverbanks zoo website here.

12. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, California

location_on The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living desert Zoo and gardens is an amazing way to experience desert in the US.

Top attractions at Riverbanks zoo

You can enjoy and explore many great animals like African dog, Malayan Leopard, Addax, Porcupine, Blackberry Sheep, Cheetah, Caracal, Giraffe, Zebra, Coyote, Tortoises, Serval, Jaguar, Mountain Lions and many other great species.

You can also book a private safari tour, camel rides and behind the scenes tour to explore the zoo.

Don't miss out on experiencing the gardens are also filled with many rare desert plants.

Operating hours of Zoo for visitors

8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Everyday

Ticket prices

  • $24.95 for Adults ( ages 13 and up )
  • $14.95 for Children ( ages 2 - 12 )
  • Free for children 2 years and under

The Living desert Zoo is located along the Palm Desert, Riverside County, California in the USA and is built in an area of more than 80 acres (1720 acres is left in natural state).

Find more on The Living desert Zoo website here.

13. Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Washington DC

location_on Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is a combined zoo and aquarium, which makes it an amazing place to spent during your holiday in Washington DC.

Top attractions at Riverbanks zoo

It houses 9000 animals of more than 360 species and the range will blow away your imagination.
Pacific Sea Aquarium, South Pacific Aquarium, Asian Forest Sanctuary, Kids Zone, Arctic Tundra and other habitats are home to large number of land, air and marine animals.

Operating hours of Zoo for visitors

9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Everyday
Closes early during Winters and some weekdays

Ticket prices

  • $21 for Adults ( ages 13 - 64 )
  • $17 for Youth ( ages 5 - 12 )
  • $13 for Tot ( ages 3 - 4 )
  • $20 for Senior ( ages 65 and up )
  • Free for children 2 years and under

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is located at Tacoma, Washington DC, US and is built in an area of more than 29 acres.

Find more on Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium website here.

14. Zoo America - Best Zoo in Pennsylvania

location_on Zoo America

Zoo America was found 1910 by Milton S. Hershey and is one of the top zoos to visit in Pennsylvania.

Top attractions at Zoo America

Started with just a few animals including beers, birds and deer, today is it home to 200 individual animals of about 35 species.
Popular animals to watch are mountain lion, black bear, river otter, ocelot, ferrets, alligators and many other rare species.

Operating hours of zoo for visitors

10 am to 8 pm Everyday.

Ticket prices at Zoo America

  • $12.5 for Adults ( ages 9 - 54 )
  • $10.5 for Children ( ages 2 - 8 )
  • $10.5 for Seniors ( ages 55 and up )
  • Free for children below ages 2 years
  • (an additional amusement tax of $0.85 is also charged)*

Zoo America is located at Hershey, Pennsylvania in the USA and built in an area of more than 11 acres.

Find more on Zoo America website here.