The Best Zoos in America

Panda Resting On Rocks In San Diego Zoo

Katherine Reed/EyeEm/Getty Images

If your kids love animals, chances are that you've been to a zoo or two, and you may have even planned a family getaway around a visit to the zoo or a top new zoo attraction.

If you're looking for some terrific suggestions, the online review community TripAdvisor compiled a list of America's top zoos based on input from its readers. You might be surprised that many of the nation's most popular zoos are located in small or mid-size cities around the country.

01 of 09

Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska

monkeys at Henry Doorly Zoo Omaha
Henry Doorly Zoo

Never heard of the Henry Doorly Zoo? TripAdvisor reviewers didn't just rank it no. 1 in the country; they ranked it the top zoo in the world. Reviewers raved about the many activities and programs at this zoo and aquarium and its backstage tours and workshops.

02 of 09

San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California

Animals at the San Diego Zoo

TripSavvy / Kathleen Messmer

Considered by many to be the gold standard of zoos, the San Diego Zoo pioneered the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats, with different species living side by side with native vegetation. The San Diego Zoo also operates the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

03 of 09

St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri

tiger at st louis zoo
St. Louis Zoo

What began as a single exhibition during the 1904 World's Fair has grown to be the St. Louis Zoo with over 700 different animal species. If you've got little ones, don't miss the children's zoo and its see-through slide through the otter pool and up-close animal encounters.

04 of 09

Zoological Wildlife Foundation, Miami, Florida

wild cat at Zoological Wildlife Foundation
Zoological Wildlife Foundation

This private petting zoo outside of Miami is home to many exotic animals. The Zoological Wildlife Foundation is particularly known for its one-on-one encounter experiences with animals such as baby tigers, lemurs, and monkeys.

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Cape May County Park & Zoo, Cape May, New Jersey

cubs at Cape May County Park & Zoo
Cape May County Park & Zoo

Free and open year-round, the Cape May County Park & Zoo is a popular attraction with families. You'll find lions, tigers, giraffes, monkey, cheetahs, zebras and many other species, as well as scavenger hunts and arts-and-crafts workshops for kids.

06 of 09

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Reticulated Giraffe looking over top rail of enclosure at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado.

Sandra Leidholdt/Getty Images 

America's only mountainside zoo spans 140 acres and boasts a collection of more than 750 animals, representing nearly 150 different species. Don't miss the wildly popular giraffe-feeding activity.

07 of 09

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Black stork at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

 Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

Open since 1965, the 40-acre Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is home to more than one thousand animals in Franke Park. You'll find animals from different parts of the world, such as Africa, Australia, and Indonesia. Don't miss the ever-popular penguins and otters, and be sure to feed the giraffes.

08 of 09

Memphis Zoo, Memphis, Tennessee

bird at Memphis Zoo
Memphis Zoo

For more than a century, the 76-acre Memphis Zoo has graced Overland Park in downtown Memphis. The zoo is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species, including the Giant Panda.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego, California

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Virginia Hill/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

Known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park until 2010, the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Wildlife Park houses a large array of wild and endangered animals from every continent except Antarctica. The wildlife park is operated by the San Diego Zoo, located 32 miles (51.5 km) away.

Was this page helpful?