21 Best Zoos to Visit in the United States with Location

Nashville Zoo

When it comes to experiencing the wonders of wildlife in the United States, there’s a diverse array of options to explore. From coast to coast, the country boasts some of the best zoos in the world, offering unparalleled opportunities for education, conservation, and entertainment. These US best zoos have earned their reputation as leaders in animal care and visitor experience, making them must-visit destinations for animal lovers of all ages. In the nation’s heart, you’ll find some of the best zoos in the USA. These institutions prioritize conservation efforts while providing engaging experiences for visitors. From iconic species to lesser-known creatures, each exhibit offers a glimpse into the world of wildlife and the importance of protecting natural habitats.

Visitors can discover more of the best zoos offer while venturing to the coasts. These best zoos in the US are not just entertainment venues but also at the forefront of conservation research and animal welfare initiatives. Through captivating exhibits and engaging educational programs, visitors are inspired to become stewards of the environment and advocates for wildlife conservation. In every region of the country, from bustling metropolises to serene landscapes, the best zoo in the United States awaits exploring. Each one offers a unique blend of entertainment and education, ensuring a memorable experience for visitors of all backgrounds.

1 – San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo, often regarded as the United States’ best zoo, is home to over 3,500 animals representing 650 species and subspecies. This iconic zoo spans 100 lush landscapes in Balboa Park. Visitors can explore diverse habitats, from the lush rainforests of the Amazon to the rugged cliffs of Africa. The zoo is renowned for its innovative exhibits, such as the Polar Bear Plunge and the Elephant Odyssey, which provide immersive experiences while promoting conservation awareness. With world-class animal care, educational programs, and conservation efforts, the San Diego Zoo continues to inspire visitors of all ages.

2 – Bronx Zoo

Bronx Zoo
Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo stands as one of the best zoos in the USA for its immersive experience and significant contributions to wildlife conservation. Spanning 265 acres, it houses over 6,000 animals representing more than 700 species. Established in 1899, this renowned zoo features award-winning exhibits like Congo Gorilla Forest and Tiger Mountain, providing insights into the world’s diverse ecosystems. The Bronx Zoo is dedicated to protecting wildlife and habitats worldwide through conservation initiatives and educational programs. From majestic big cats to exotic birds, visitors can witness the wonders of nature while supporting vital conservation efforts. The Bronx Zoo continues to captivate and inspire animal enthusiasts.

3 – Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Smithsonian's National Zoo
Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo, a top contender among the best zoos in the United States, offers a captivating journey through the animal kingdom and a profound educational experience. Located in Washington, D.C., this prestigious institution is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is dedicated to conservation, research, and education. Home to over 2,700 animals representing nearly 400 species, the zoo provides visitors with opportunities to learn about wildlife and the importance of biodiversity. From iconic species like giant pandas to lesser-known creatures, each exhibit showcases the beauty. Through interactive experiences and educational programs, the National Zoo inspires visitors to become stewards of the environment.

4 – Zoo Miami

Zoo Miami
Zoo Miami

Zoo Miami, recognized as one of the US best zoos, invites visitors to explore the wonders of the animal kingdom in a tropical setting. Situated in Miami, Florida, this dynamic zoo is the largest and oldest in the state. Spanning over 750 acres, it is home to over 3,000 animals representing over 500 species, including rare and endangered species like the Komodo dragon and the Bengal tiger. With immersive exhibits like Amazon and Beyond and the Asian Riverlife Experience, visitors can journey through diverse ecosystems from around the globe. Zoo Miami is committed to wildlife conservation, education, and research, providing a memorable experience.

5 – Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium stands as one of the premier zoos in the USA, offering an enriching experience for visitors. Located in Columbus, Ohio, this renowned institution spans over 580 acres and is home to over 10,000 animals representing over 600 species. Founded in 1927, the zoo is dedicated to conservation, education, and animal care. It features immersive exhibits like Heart of Africa and Asia Quest, allowing visitors to explore diverse habitats and learn about the importance of wildlife conservation. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium continues to inspire visitors to connect with nature and protect the planet’s precious biodiversity.

6 – Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo offers a delightful escape into the animal kingdom in the heart of Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1868, it is one of the oldest zoos in the country, spanning 35 acres and housing over 1,100 animals representing nearly 200 species. With free admission, the zoo provides accessible education and conservation opportunities for all visitors. From the regal lions to the primates, this best zoo in the USA offers a unique glimpse into the diversity of life on Earth. Lincoln Park Zoo is committed to animal welfare, conservation, and community engagement, making it a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike.

7 – Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo
Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo stands tall as one of the United States’ best zoos, offering a captivating experience for visitors of all ages. Founded in 1874, it holds the distinction of being the first zoo in the nation. Situated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this iconic institution spans 42 acres and is home to over 1,300 animals representing more than 340 species. From majestic big cats to colorful birds, the zoo’s diverse exhibits provide a window into the wonders of the animal kingdom. With a conservation commitment, Philadelphia Zoo inspires visitors to connect with wildlife and protect natural habitats for future generations.

8 – Houston Zoo

Houston Zoo
Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo, counted among the best zoos in the US, offers a captivating adventure for visitors of all ages in Houston, Texas. Spanning 55 acres, this dynamic zoo is home to over 6,000 animals representing more than 900 species. From majestic elephants to colorful birds, the zoo showcases diverse wildlife worldwide. Visitors can explore immersive exhibits like the African Forest and the Wortham World of Primates, providing insights into different ecosystems and conservation efforts. With interactive experiences and conservation initiatives, the Houston Zoo inspires visitors to connect with nature and take action to protect wildlife and their habitats.

9 – Oregon Zoo

Oregon Zoo
Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo offers a fascinating journey through the wonders of the animal kingdom in Portland, Oregon. Situated on 64 acres, this renowned zoo is home to over 2,600 animals representing more than 215 species. From the majestic Asian elephants to the playful river otters, visitors can explore a diverse range of habitats and ecosystems. This US best zoo is committed to conservation, education, and animal welfare, with initiatives to protect endangered species and their habitats. Through immersive exhibits, interactive experiences, and educational programs, the Oregon Zoo inspires visitors to connect with wildlife and take action to preserve the planet’s biodiversity.

10 – Saint Louis Zoo

Saint Louis Zoo
Saint Louis Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo offers an exciting adventure for visitors in St. Louis, Missouri. Spanning 90 acres, this world-class zoo is home to over 16,000 animals representing more than 600 species. From the iconic lions to the fascinating sea lions, visitors can explore exhibits showcasing animals from around the globe. The zoo is committed to conservation, education, and animal welfare, with initiatives to preserve endangered species and their habitats. With immersive exhibits, educational programs, and conservation efforts, the Saint Louis Zoo provides visitors a memorable experience while inspiring them to protect wildlife and their habitats.

11 – Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is celebrated as one of the best zoos in the United States, and it offers a captivating blend of wildlife and botanical beauty in Cincinnati, Ohio. Founded in 1875, this historic institution spans 75 acres and is home to over 2,000 animals representing more than 500 species. Visitors can explore exhibits showcasing creatures worldwide, from the majestic Sumatran tigers to the playful red pandas. The zoo is renowned for its commitment to conservation, education, and sustainability, with initiatives to protect endangered species. The Cincinnati Zoo provides visitors with a memorable and enriching experience.

12 – Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo
Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo, esteemed among the best zoos in the USA, offers an enchanting adventure for visitors in Denver, Colorado. Spanning over 80 acres, this dynamic zoo is home to over 3,000 animals representing over 450 species. From the majestic African lions to the playful Asian elephants, visitors can explore diverse habitats and ecosystems. The zoo is committed to conservation, education, and animal welfare, with initiatives to protect endangered species and their habitats. With immersive exhibits and educational programs, the Denver Zoo inspires visitors to connect with wildlife and take action to preserve the planet’s biodiversity.

13 – Dallas Zoo

Dallas Zoo
Dallas Zoo

Dallas Zoo offers a captivating journey into the world of wildlife. It houses over 2,000 animals in Texas, representing more than 400 species. The best zoo in the United States is renowned for its innovative habitats, such as the Giants of the Savanna exhibit, where visitors can observe African elephants, giraffes, and other savanna animals roaming together. Through educational programs and conservation initiatives, Dallas Zoo strives to inspire visitors to appreciate and protect the natural habitats of wild animals and birds. From up-close animal encounters to immersive exhibits, it provides unforgettable experiences for visitors of all ages.

14 – Detroit Zoo

Detroit Zoo
Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo is renowned as one of the best zoos in the US, captivating visitors with its commitment to conservation and animal welfare. Founded in 1928, the zoo offers immersive exhibits like the Arctic Ring of Life and the Australian Outback Adventure, providing visitors with an educational journey through diverse habitats. Focusing on sustainability and environmental stewardship, the Detroit Zoo promotes conservation initiatives and engages the community through educational programs and events. From endangered species to local wildlife worldwide, the zoo continues to inspire visitors to appreciate and protect the wonders of the natural world.

15 – Memphis Zoo

Memphis Zoo
Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo is a world-renowned attraction in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee. The zoo is home to over 3,500 animals representing more than 500 species from around the globe. Highlights include award-winning, state-of-the-art exhibits like the massive Teton Trek, which recreates the grandeur of the Yellowstone wilderness, and the renowned Giant Panda exhibit, one of only a few in the United States. Visitors can also explore the zoo’s diverse collection of primates, big cats, bears, and more. Beyond the unique animal exhibits, the Memphis Zoo offers interactive educational programs, scenic walking trails, and delightful dining options, making it a must-visit destination.

16 – Fort Worth Zoo

Fort Worth Zoo
Fort Worth Zoo

The Fort Worth Zoo is consistently ranked among the best zoos in the USA, renowned for its innovative exhibits and dedication to wildlife conservation. The zoo has over 64 acres and houses over 7,000 animals representing more than 500 species, including rare and endangered creatures like the Sumatran tiger and the ever-popular western lowland gorillas. Visitors can explore diverse habitats, from the African Savanna to the Australian Outback, and enjoy interactive educational programs that inspire a deeper appreciation for the natural world. With its commitment to sustainability, research, and public engagement, the Fort Worth Zoo remains a top destination for the best zoos in the US.

17 – San Francisco Zoo

San Francisco Zoo
San Francisco Zoo

Located in the heart of San Francisco, the San Francisco Zoo is the best zoo in the USA, offering visitors a unique and immersive experience. Spanning over 100 acres, the zoo is home to over 2,000 animals representing more than 250 species, many of which are rare and endangered. Highlights include the award-winning Gorilla Preserve, the innovative Grizzly Gulch exhibit, and the beloved Penguin Island. Beyond the exceptional animal exhibits, the San Francisco Zoo boasts stunning botanical gardens, interactive educational programs, and a variety of dining and shopping options, making it a must-visit destination for the best zoos in the US.

18 – Minnesota Zoo

Minnesota Zoo
Minnesota Zoo

The Minnesota Zoo is renowned as one of the United States’ best zoos, offering visitors a unique and captivating experience. Spread across 485 acres, the zoo is home to over 5,000 animals representing 500 species, from the majestic snow leopards to the playful otters. Highlights include the innovative “Russia’s Grizzly Coast” exhibit, the impressive Tropics Trail, and the beloved Minnesota Trail showcasing the state’s indigenous wildlife. Beyond the exceptional animal habitats, the Minnesota Zoo boasts interactive educational programs, scenic nature trails, and a variety of family-friendly amenities, making it a true gem among the best zoos in the country.

19 – Los Angeles Zoo

Los Angeles Zoo
Los Angeles Zoo

The Los Angeles Zoo is widely recognized as the best US zoo in the heart of Los Angeles. Spanning over 133 acres, the zoo is home to over 1,400 animals representing more than 270 species, including iconic species like the Asian elephant and the critically endangered California condor. Visitors can explore a wide range of immersive habitats, from the lush Rainforest of the Americas to the rugged terrain of the Campo Gorilla Reserve. With its commitment to conservation, education, and public engagement, the Los Angeles Zoo continues to be a premier destination for the best zoos in the country.

20 – Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is known for its exceptional animal care, innovative exhibits, and family-friendly atmosphere. Spanning over 60 acres, the zoo is home to over 2,000 animals representing 300 species, including rare and endangered species like the Sumatran tiger and the African-painted dog. Visitors can explore a diverse array of habitats, from the Ituri Forest to the Asian Gardens, and enjoy interactive educational programs, thrilling rides, and a variety of dining and shopping options. With its commitment to conservation, research, and community engagement, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo remains a shining example of the best zoos in the United States.

21 – Nashville Zoo

Nashville Zoo
Nashville Zoo

The Nashville Zoo is known for its exceptional animal exhibits, immersive experiences, and commitment to conservation. Spanning over 200 acres, the zoo is home to over 3,000 animals representing more than 350 species, including rare and endangered creatures like the Sumatran tiger and the snow leopard. Visitors can explore diverse habitats, from the lush Grasslands to the rugged Unseen New World, and enjoy interactive educational programs, scenic walking trails, and various family-friendly amenities. With its ongoing efforts to protect vulnerable wildlife and inspire environmental stewardship, the Nashville Zoo continues to solidify its reputation.

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