When was the last time you went to the zoo?
There’s nothing quite as phenomenal as watching the elegant stride of a tiger, chuckling at penguins sluggishly walking along before diving into the water, or marveling at the graceful fluff of a lion-tailed macaque’s face.
A trip to the zoo is the best occasion to learn about the various animals that walk this world, a range that is as wild, beautiful, and diverse as the many corners of the planet. Animal lovers will be happy to learn that there are many US zoos that not only house a bevy of creatures but also bring them in and make sure the animals are well taken care of.
Since these animals are taken out of their natural habitats, it’s vital to ensure animal welfare and protect those endangered species. From New York to California, here are some of the best zoos in America!
1. Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest US zoos. It’s located in New York City, specifically on either side of the Bronx River. You’ll find more than 4,000 species there, which is pretty impressive. In fact, this spot is actually one of NY’s most beloved landmarks.
However, before visiting this place, keep in mind that it’s huge! This wildlife park is over 240 acres, and you’ll most likely need a full day to see everything that it has to offer. If you’re tight on schedule, you may want to plan ahead for the exhibits you most want to see.
The ticket price for adults is $40, and for children it is $30. On Wednesdays, however, the Bronx Zoo provides free entrance for a limited number of visitors (make sure to plan ahead if you want to save some money while in New York).
2. Henry Doorly Zoo
This is definitely one of the best zoos in the US and even in the world. Omaha isn’t one of those big and loud cities, but it sure does have a surprisingly big zoo.
I’m talking about theme park-level production value, complete with a skyfari, splash pads, helicopters, and about every type of attraction and ecosystem that an animal and a visitor could ask for.
The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, houses a little under 1,000 species of creatures. The place has an African exhibit, a South Pole exhibit, and an Asian exhibit, among many others. You can bring food to feed the animals, but you should know that Henry Doorly has pretty affordable prices for the food.
A ticket package includes the wildlife park and aquarium, and you’ll have to pay $19 for one adult and $13 for one child. If you’re retired, you get a $2 discount. There are lots of free parking spots available, and the whole place is pretty easy to navigate.
3. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
One of the main zoos in the Northwest, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, exhibits animals from Western America. It’s definitely a must if you’re visiting Colorado Springs. But you won’t find just local animals here.
The place also houses creatures from all of the major continents. You can feed the giraffes, go on a chairlift-style open-air ride, and take photos during animal encounters. The zoo also has a small aquarium and a special primate section, both included in the ticket price. The whole place is fairly easy to navigate, as it basically has a bunch of loops.
Tickets cost $25 for adults and $15 for children.
4. Audubon Zoo
In 1914, the Audubon Nature Institute decided to found a zoo in New Orleans, Louisiana. Since then, it has brought in more than 2,000 animals and boasts multiple exhibits. One of the most popular and interesting is a swamp exhibit featuring local creatures from around the bayou area.
At Audubon, guests can get closer to the animals than in many other wildlife parks in the country (while obviously staying safe). There’s also an aquarium, which is included in the ticket price. It doesn’t take too long to see everything this place has to offer, and there are several experiences and activities to try.
Tickets for entrance cost $25 for adults and $20 for kids. There are also a couple of free days throughout the year.
5. Cincinnati Zoo
Ohio is home to the nation’s second-oldest zoo, a place that has been entertaining visitors since 1875. It’s especially known for its constant efforts to save endangered species from extinction, like black rhinos. There are exhibits from all over the globe, as well as a nice botanical garden, included in the ticket price.
On a visit here, you’ll have the chance to see everything from an African lion or an Arctic fox to an Amazon milk frog or an Indian peacock. So, while you’ll see all of the classic attractions usually found in a place like this, there’s also an insect exhibit, which is a pretty rare feature.
For adults, tickets are $28, while children’s tickets are $22. You’ll also have to pay for parking, which is a $10 fee per vehicle. The place does allow you to bring food in small containers.
6. Dallas Zoo
Although there are several zoos in Texas, this one is the most visitor-friendly. While it’s smaller than many other wildlife parks on this list, it has a wide range of animals. One feature that most visitors seem to ‘praise is that it has paths that are well-shaded, which is definitely necessary for the Texas sun.
Across its 106 acres, you’ll find large animals like giraffes, gorillas, lions, and elephants, alongside smaller animals like toucans, frogs, snakes, and penguins. There are also giraffe feedings and other attractions like a miniature train and a carousel.
The place has flexible prices based on seasonal attendance. Tickets for adults are between $8 and 21, while tickets for children are between $8 and 16, depending on what time of year you’re visiting.
7. Zoo Miami
This place is more than just a zoo; technically, it’s a wildlife park and a garden. It boasts about 500 species of animals and far more species of plants. It’s the largest zoo in Florida, stretching over 300 acres. Their most unique and interesting exhibit is the Floridian animals in Animals of the Everglades.
The exhibits include Asian animals, Australian animals, Amazonian animals, African animals, and a children’s zoo. So, if you’re bringing small kids with you, the latter one is ideal.
Tickets cost $23 for adults and $19 for children. You can also get in for free, but you’ll need a yearly membership.
8. National Zoo
The National Zoo, officially known as the Smithsonian National Zoo, is in Washington, D.C. It’s famous for Bei Bei and Tai Shan, the giant pandas that have been there since 2005. Obviously, the place also houses many other animals, including Asian, African, Arctic, and American natives.
The place is especially renowned for its animal conservation and research. As part of the Smithsonian Institution, this wildlife park doesn’t charge for entry. However, every visitor has to have a pre-reserved ticket.
While strolling beneath the Orangutan Transport System (called the O Line), make sure you look up every now and then to spot orangutans swinging above you. Or, if you’re more interested in seeing animals native to South America, check out the Amazonia exhibit, which features animals like titi monkeys and different frog species.
9. Philadelphia Zoo
This place holds the honor of being the first and oldest zoo in America. It was opened in 1874, and since then, it has brought in some of the most interesting animal species and exhibits. The place is truly a family affair, with several things to do for both children and adults.
What’s unique about this zoo is that it features a property-wide system of mesh trails meant to allow animals to wander above and around the wildlife park’s grounds. But at the Philadelphia Zoo, you’ll find more than just animals. The place also has a great variety of food options as well as several wineries.
The place has limited fall and winter hours and, as you can guess, is much more open in the summer months. For adults, tickets are $24, while for children, tickets are $19.
10. Saint Louis Zoo
This one is the largest free zoo in the US. It’s also one of the most respected and ethical animal research institutions in America. Operating only on donations, this place has a mission to care for animals and research them while entertaining and educating the public. The wildlife park features six different zones, including “The Wild”, which houses bears and primates, and “Rivers Edge,” with hippos and elephants.
While some experiences and exhibits cost money, you can easily spend a full day in this lovely place without spending a penny! So, bring some snacks and water, and you can have the most exciting free experience you’ve had in a while.
If you’re interested in reading more about wild animals, here’s a book you may want to have in your personal library!
You may also want to read We Bet You Didn’t Know These 12 WILD Facts About Wildlife.