The 12 Best Zoos in the U.S

If you have kids, have a date, have a grandpa, are bored, or honestly any circumstance as long as you like animals, the zoo is the place to visit. It was probably one of the first places your parents took you to. And almost as likely, you’ll probably be taking your children there too as long as their old enough to appreciate it.
Zoos are amazing, they’re fun, they allow us to see animals we would’ve otherwise never seen. You eat ice cream, watch the penguins, hear the lion, laugh at the monkeys. It’s a pretty universal experience.
Now, as we don’t want you going to just any boring zoo you come across, we’ve here listed the 12 best zoos in the United States, the ones that are actually worth a road trip.

1. San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo is world famous for 3,500-plus rare and endangered animals that are supported by more than 250,000 member households. Weekends are impossible in this place, so to get a premium zoo experience you should wake up really early and go on a property tour. But, you can skip the property (it has a 109-dollar cost) head to the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which sits about 30 miles northeast of downtown.

2. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

In 2018, this was considered one of the best zoos in the world by TripAdvisor’s reviews. Stand in the protective bubble in Hubbard Gorilla Valley while gorillas roam around you, explore the aquarium from a 70-foot shark tunnel. America’s largest indoor rainforest is waiting for you to cross it. And finally, after a long day and when you’re finally super tired, you can just hop on the zoo’s steam-powered train, carousel or Skyfari.

3. The Wilds, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

In Cumberland, Ohio there’s a pearl waiting for you to find it. The zoo was founded in 1984 when the Central Ohio Coal Company gave as a gift nearly 10,000 acres of land to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. This zoo has also become an educational preserve to complement the main zoo. You can book a horseback or zip line safari to make sure this zoo experience is like no other.

4. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

This zoo’s been open ever since 1875. No, I didn’t make a typo, 19th-century zoo. But being old doesn’t stop this zoo from using the latest techniques to engage visitors with nearly 2,000 animals. You got to pay attention because there are clues everywhere, footprints and hints of what animals you’ll be seeing next. The Safari Train is a colorful, fun way to ride across a bunch of habitats. Some of the favorites are the penguin parade, the Cheetah Encounter, and the Blakely’s Barnyard Bonanza show.

5. Saint Louis Zoological Park

This free zoo in Saint Louis was also voted one of the world’s top 10 zoos in 2018 by TripAdvisor readers. The park exhibits 655 animal species in appealing natural habitats, and its conservation efforts result in several new additions every spring. You’ll see awesome animals like red pandas, primates, hippos, penguins and more, plus a 4D movie theater, a carousel, and a railroad.

6. Oakland Zoo

This is the zoo that in 1991 developed the “protected contact” method that is now used all around the world. The zoo contains 700-plus native and exotic animals, and most of them are rescues. Living in large, naturalistic habitats less than 20 miles east of San Francisco. You can ride a gondola all the way up to the California Trail and indigenous to California that features play areas. The best part? A campground for overnight stays with grizzly bears.

7. Fort Worth Zoo

Fort Worth Zoo is one of the several top zoos Texas has to offer. This one, in particular, has educated visitors ever since 1909. Not only is this the only zoo in the country where visitors can see all four great ape species, but it also offers the reptile- and amphibian-filled Museum of Living Art. Special events include group overnight stays and a kid’s sleepover on New Year’s Eve. Tip: visit on Wednesdays, its half price.

8. Brevard Zoo

Located in Melbourne, Florida, Brevard offers fun and delightfully educational activities in a manageable setting. For families, there are a bunch of free activities so that you can have fun without exhausting your wallet too much. Try the lagoon or the aquarium. If you’re willing to spend a little more money, you can try train rides, zip lining, and giraffe feedings. For a unique experience, try the kayak tour and see to see Africa’s rhinos and lemurs.

9. Bronx Zoo

More than 700 species are roaming 265 acres. Significant numbers considering this is an urban zoo, in fact, the largest urban zoo in the United States. The must-see attractions include the Congo Gorilla Forest, the glass-enclosed rainforest habitat, the Tiger Mountain’s Siberian tigers, and the Zoo Center’s Komodo dragons. Just like Forth Worth Zoo, you can save money on Wednesdays, when ticket donation is up to you. If you live in New York, or just plan on visiting, this is a great escapade from the urban landscapes.

10. Memphis Zoo

Tennessee is home to one of the best zoos in America. In only 70 acres, the Memphis zoo displays naturalistic habitats with big cats, giant pandas, hippos, primates, and many other awesome animals. The best time to visit is early in the day. You can also check the zoo’s calendar for special events such as wine for rhinos, beers for bears, or breakfast with zookeepers where you’ll learn about orangutans and gorillas.

11. Dallas Zoo

More than 2,000 animals across approximately 400 species are what you’re going to find in this great zoo in Texas. The naturalistic habitats vary and go from the African Savanna to South American rainforests. Do you want to get the full experience? Board the monorail for a guided Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari, pass by the waterfall, and the other five exhibits not accessible otherwise. You can also go on a nocturne hike, which is available on selected days and only costs $20 per person.

12. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Florida houses another one of our favorite zoos. For over 60 years, this park has evolved and added more species as time goes by. It began with only birds and brewery and later became one of the most exciting zoos in the United States. In this attraction, travelers have access to an array of animal encounters, including the 30-minute Serengeti Safari. Unforgettable experience.

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