A trip to the zoo is a great day out, whether you’re visiting as a family, a couple, or a group of friends! Not only is it fun, but it’s extremely educational, as you get to see different types of animals that you’d otherwise only encounter in the wild.
Top 10 Most Popular Zoos in US
You can quickly check out below which zoos made it into our Top 10 List of the Most Popular Zoos in the US – from Nebraska to New York and beyond. Read on to find out why they are the best.
- Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium – Omaha, Nebraska
- St. Louis Zoo – St. Louis, Missouri
- Houston Zoo – Houston, Texas
- San Diego Zoo – San Diego, California
- Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – Liberty Township, Ohio
- Bronx Zoo – New York
- Denver Zoo – Denver, Colorado
- Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Smithsonian – Washington, DC
- Memphis Zoo – Memphis, Tennessee
If you’re animal mad you may want to travel from across the US to visit these amazing zoos. Wherever you’re traveling to, don’t forget to plan ahead and pre book your airport parking.
Best Zoos to Visit – Our Research
According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), there are roughly 900 species of animals living in zoos across the USA that are classified as either vulnerable or extinct in the wild; as well as 800,000 animals that are in the care of zoos that are AZA-accredited.
However, with thousands of zoos across the USA, it can be hard to know which is the best one to visit. With that in mind, we’ve done the research for you! By looking at various factors, including the number of animals, cost of a ticket, positive reviews, and more; we’ve uncovered the top US zoos to visit, whether you live locally, or are planning a family vacation.
Henry Doorly Zoo – Omaha, Nebraska
Nestled on the outskirts of Omaha is the USA’s best zoo: Henry Doorly Zoo. If you’re wondering why this unassuming zoo has come out on top, then the answer’s clear: not only is it home to the most number of animals, at a staggering 17,000; but it’s also home to the most number of species too, at 962 – that’s over 200 more than the zoo in second place!
Henry Doorly really does offer a great day out: not only can you wander around and see all the animals, but there are lots of additional attractions too, from the carousel, to the giant theater that presents various shows, including one on Antarctica; but you can also visit Stingray Beach, where children can interact with the resident stingrays, who swim around in the water.
And, with a huge 5,668 Tripadvisor ratings of four-star and above (the third most on our list), it’s easy to see why the Henry Doorly Zoo has come out on top for the best in the USA!
St. Louis Zoo – St. Louis, Missouri
Hot on Henry Doorly’s heels is Missouri’s St. Louis Zoo. Home to a staggering 160,000 animals (the second most on our list) of 500 different species, kids and big kids alike will get to see so many animals that can usually only be found in the wild.
Take the time to discover six different zones, which includes The Wild, where you’ll discover apes, bears, penguins, puffins and more; and River’s Edge, which has its own African savannah, home to African painted dogs, and black rhinoceros amongst others; and a South American spot where you can see several types of native animals, including capybaras and giant anteaters.
St. Louis Zoo also has plenty of rave reviews – 8,247 four and five-star reviews on Tripadvisor to be exact; making this one of the best zoos to visit in the country.
Houston Zoo – Houston, Texas
Houston Zoo makes it into a very respectable third place, and for good reason. With 135,000 searches for it every single month, it’s the third most searched for zoo in the USA, showcasing the amazing reputation it has. And, it has the highest Linkfluence score of 49, which highlights how positively people view the zoo.
When you get there, you’ll be able to visit the 600 different species that call Houston Zoo home. Visit the 11 different areas, which include the Galapagos Islands, where you’ll get to see sealions, penguins, and bonnethead sharks; as well as the Texas Wetlands, which is home to the American alligator, and the bald eagle.
There are tonnes of animal encounters that occur throughout the year that you and your little ones can enjoy too – whether you choose to bathe elephants, or help feed a giant anteater.
San Diego Zoo – San Diego, California
In fourth place is San Diego Zoo, with more searches than anywhere else, at an impressive 368,000 every single month. Not only that, but it has the third most number of animals and species, at 14,000 and 660, respectively.
Jump on the discovery cart and be driven around to see the various animals, or take part in one of the wildlife walking tours – the choice is yours! You can also book onto an ‘Animals in Action’ experience, where you’ll get to hear stories about some of the animals that live here, and find out how the zoo helps to save species around the world.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – Liberty Township, Ohio
Rounding off our top five best zoos in the USA, is Ohio’s Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Home to 10,000 animals from 600 different species, you could spend a whole day here and still not have met all the animals!
There are eight different sections of the zoo to work your way around, including Polar Frontier, where you’ll get to see the resident arctic foxes and polar bears, and learn how to help save the rapidly disappearing ice these animals need. Alternatively, you can head to Asia Quest to visit the cute red pandas, and amur tigers.
If you live locally to the zoo and your kids have taken a huge interest in the animals, then there are classes and camps they can get involved in during school breaks, to learn more about the animals themselves, as well as conservation opportunities.
Of course, there are so many amazing zoos to visit in the USA, no matter whereabouts you live, or are visiting.
Bronx Zoo comes in sixth place, and has the second most search volume (165,000 a month), as well as the second most number of species, at an impressive 700, and 10,000 animals.
Denver Zoo comes in seventh place, Pittsburgh in eighth, Smithsonian in ninth, and Memphis Zoo in 10th, but zoos all across the USA have something to offer. And, with the cost of living continuing to rise, a trip to the zoo doesn’t have to break the bank. The NEW Zoo in Suamico, WI, has the cheapest tickets, at $11 an adult, and $8 a child; where you’ll get to visit 200 animals from 90 different species.
Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, and Pittsburgh Zoo are also good value for money, at $14.95 and $16 a ticket per adult respectively, and $12.95 and $13 per child. So, why not make a trip to the zoo part of your next vacation?
If you’re booking your next vacation, and you’ve sorted your flights, make sure you book your airport parking too, so you can get to the airport easily and quickly, without having to mess around booking taxis. From parking at San Diego Airport to New York JFK airport parking and everywhere in between, we offer great deals all across the USA.
And, if you’re catching the first flight out or last flight back, why not extend your trip with an airport hotel, so you can catch up on those much-needed zz’s? Again, we offer deals at airports across the USA, so rest assured if you book a hotel with us, you’re getting great value for money.
To create our ranking, we’ve taken a closer look at the 28 most popular Zoos in the US. Ticket prices and and number of animals as well as the species were sources from each Zoo’s website. For the TripAdvisor reviews we took any reviews with four stars or more into consideration. The search data was sourced through keywordtool.io and the likeability score was taken from the social listening tool Linkfluence.