Zoos are one of the most fascinating, educational resources available to us. There’s just nothing quite like seeing wild, exotic animals face-to-face–even having the opportunity to touch and interact with them at some zoos!
The USA has so many great zoos that it’s really hard to pick the best zoos in the US! From San Diego zoo in the west coast to the Bronx Zoo in the east coast, so many zoos will make our list of best zoos in the USA if we didn’t have to pick just the top 10 zoos in America. We searched even as far up as Anchorage zoo and of course, other great zoos like the Toledo zoo, Idaho falls zoo, the Minnesota Zoo, and the amazing zoo in Washington state made our list. We also considered Miami Zoo, the Indianapolis zoo, Columbus Ohio zoo, and certainly the St Louis zoo. We also looked at Cincinnati zoo as well and even took a close look at the best zoos in the Midwest as well as the awesome zoos in the South.
So how did we decide on the top10 zoos to rate as part of the best zoos in the US? Well, we looked at the location, the cost of admission to the zoo, the diversity of the animals in the zoo, and other family-friendly activities to do around the area of the zoo. We also considered the family-friendliness of the zoo itself, as well as how suitability it was for kids. And we came up with a list of the best zoos in the USA. Incidentally, some of these best zoos in US are also rated top zoos in the world. Whether you have kids or are still wonderfully thrilled with animals as an adult, here are the top and best zoos in the USA:
1. Houston Zoo in Houston, TX
Home to over 900 species with a total of over 6,000 animals in all, Houston Zoo is the second most visited zoo in America. That’s an outstanding variety of species all packed into one 55-acre zoo! We like to think this is one of the best zoos in America and certainly meets our criteria for the top 10 zoos in the US.
2. Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA
Woodland Park Zoo is an absolute must on this list, as it is second only to the Bronx Zoo in New York City in the number of awards it has received. This zoo has over 300 species and has hugely diverse exhibits, from Tropical Asia to African Savanna to The Northern Trail and more! Woodland Park Zoo has won so many national awards and is well known for recreating a natural environment for the many animals it houses. This unique feature of the zoo makes Seattle worth visiting at all times. This zoo is certainly a top zoo in the USA and is considered one of the best zoos in the world.
3. St. Louis Zoo in St. Louis, MO
St. Louis Zoo is most well-known for its endearing polar bear, Kali. Spectators flock to Missouri just to see the polar bear that was orphaned in Alaska. What’s more–the zoo is free to all! And free is a good reason to visit this zoo which is a to United States zoo and one that will always be on top US zoo rankings.
4. Bronx Zoo in New York City, NY
The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest urban zoos in the world, as well as one of the largest zoos in America. The zoo is the perfect escape for New Yorkers to feel like they’re out there in the wild – especially on free Wednesdays! This amazing zoo set in the city has won so many awards for recreating the natural environment for the animals that call the Bronx home. The zoo is spread over 265 acres, which is enough land to create a natural home for the 6000 animals it houses. This zoo ranks as one of the best zoos in America and a top-loved zoo for families with young kids. And of course, while in the Bronx, plan to visit other parts of New York for more family-friendly activities. If you are looking for one of the largest zoos in the USA and even one of the largest zoos in the world, The Bronx Zoo should be on your list.
5. Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, CA
Living Desert Zoo is so appealing because of the unique desert experience it offers visitors. In fact, it’s more than a zoo; the Living Desert Zoo is also a magnificent botanical garden right in the desert of California! The zoo is dedicated solely to all the desert areas in the world – there’s none other offering anything like the experience you’d get here! Living Desert Zoo is one of the top zoos in the US and one of the best US zoos on our list.
6. Cincinnati Zoo in Cincinnati, OH
The Cincinnati Zoo may not be the biggest zoo in America, but its appeal lies elsewhere. If you’d love to get a more personal and close-up experience with animals of the wild, you’ll absolutely want to make a trip to this zoo. What sets the Cincinnati Zoo apart are the multiple behind-the-scenes tours it offers in order for you to have a more intimate experience. It’s also home to the last passenger pigeon, Martha! This zoo is certainly well rated in the US.
7. Columbus Zoo in Columbus, OH
If you’re wanting to spend a day – or ten – in the largest zoo in America, be sure to swing on over to Columbus while you’re in Ohio to stop by the Columbus Zoo, spanning a whopping 580 acres that hold over 7,000 animals! Yes, it’s that big. And it is really one of the biggest zoos in the US and the world.
8. Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, AK
So you might not have Alaska on your immediate plans, but the Alaska zoo is worth visiting Alaska for. If you ever wondered what sort of animals survive in extreme cold temperature, Alaska zoo will answer all your questions and if you visit at the right time, you might actually get to experience a “snowy” zoo. Take the kids around the winter for a snow-filled fun in the zoo. What makes this zoo so spectacular is simply the fact that its location offers home to animals of the arctic. Though it’s much smaller than other zoos on this list, the experience of seeing wolves, reindeer, polar bears, and more in their natural habitat is superbly unique. So put this on your list of top zoos in the US to visit soon.
9. Indianapolis Zoo, Indiana
If you find yourself in the Midwest, make Indianapolis zoo part of your adventure. This zoo is home to dolphins, which you can swim with if interested. It is also home to almost 35000 types of plants as well as 1500 animals. This zoo is certainly in line for being one of the best zoos in the US and a visit to Indianapolis with kids wouldn’t be complete without stopping by here. So add this zoo to your list of top 10 zoos in the US and take the family to one of the best zoos in America!
10. San Diego Zoo in San Diego, CA
Last but certainly not least, the San Diego Zoo is extremely well-known for its quality and quantity–over 650 species and 3,700 animals. Visitors especially love close-up encounters with giant pandas, as the San Diego Zoo is one of the few zoos in the world to breed them. Founded in 1916, this zoo is very much alive and thriving and home to almost 4000 animals. San Diego zoo is located in the warm Pacific side of California and a visit to the zoo can easily be added on to a week-long family trip to San Diego. Or if you’re already in San Diego, don’t forget to visit this zoo for an amazing experience at one of the best zoos in the world.
*Zoo images are from the zoo websites.