National Zoo

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3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC, USA - 24-hour Recorded Zoo Information Line 202.633.4800

National Zoo Washington Reviews

Andy99 Andy99
621 reviews
Washington, DC's, National Zoo May 21, 2016
The National Zoo in Washington, DC, is a unit of the Smithsonian. Founded in 1889, the National Zoo is a popular attraction for both locals and visitors to the nation's capital.

The Zoo is most well known for its Giant Pandas. The first pair arrived from China in 1972. The current pair, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang have been at the Zoo since 2000, on loan from China. They have had three Panda cubs at the zoo. When I last visited the zoo, their cubs Bao Bao and Bei Bei were both still at the Panda Habitat. (Bao Bao was sent to China in early 2017.)

Of course, there are myriad other animals at the National Zoo. There are the Bird House, the Small Mammal House, Great Apes and Reptile Discover Center among the many animal exhibits. The National Zoo often plays host to unusual animals in programs to conserve them. When we visited with our children in the 1990s, a rare White Tiger was present.

The Zoo is large, located in Rock Creek Park. One could spend all day exploring it, and so there are cafes and fast food stands available.

High Recommended for the family and all ages.

Admission is free. There is a charge for car parking.

Metro: Woodley Park-Zoo.
Tian Tian, male Giant Panda.
Tian Tian, male Giant Panda.
Giant Panda.
Bao Bao, Giant Panda cub.
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
vances says:
I enjoyed this new zoo review...excellent collection of pictures!
Posted on: May 19, 2017
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WalterC WalterC
389 reviews
This free zoo is well worth it! And not just for the pandas! Jul 17, 2016
The National Zoological Park is part of the Smithsonian Institution, located north of the downtown area. More commonly known as the National Zoo, this zoo is famously known for having giant pandas, and the one of the few in the US to have them. And this is the only one with pandas, that has free admission.

If getting there by Metro, the best way is to get off at the Cleveland Park stop and walk to the entrance. And when leaving the zoo from the same entrance, walk to the Woodley Park stop, as it does go downhill. This is a big deal, after a long and tiring day at the zoo.

Do I really need to say this? Just seeing the giant pandas is more than enough reason to come to this zoo. And you get to see them for free. It is recommended that you get to the zoo as early as possible, so you won't have to deal with crowds. There are outdoor and indoor viewing areas to see the pandas, located on the Asia Trail. There is a separate trail that leads you from the outdoor to the indoor building, called the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. Inside, there is a good chance of seeing them really close, and more likely eating away. Also, displays on the history of pandas at the National Zoo.

Of course, there is a lot more to see than pandas, as there are other interesting animals to check out at this zoo. Different viewing areas to see the Asian elephants, along with lions and tigers at the Great Cats area. Plus a nice collection of reptiles in the Reptile Discovery Center, along with amphibians in there and the Amazonia building.

Another highlight is the Bird House, where there are a variety of birds, both inside the building, and outside, surrounding the building. Though, the Outdoor Flight Exhibit was nothing special, which is connected to the side of the Bird House on a bridge.

The downside, is that it is very hilly. So depending on which direction you came in, as there are entrances at both sides of the National Zoo, it can be a challenge if having to go uphill in the later part of your visit. That was the case for me, and on a hot day, makes it even more tiring. Also, if you want to pick up a zoo map, you will have to pay $5, which supposedly goes to conservation. I hope so!

Also, if you can, avoid going on the weekends. And if you have to go on the weekend, I have been told that Sundays are generally better than Saturdays. This zoo is really extensive, and to walk to try to see everything, can take an entire day.

Giant pandas is enough reason to come to the National Zoo in the first place, but the variety and huge collection of animals makes this zoo one of the best in the country. And being free just makes it all the better! I would give this zoo, 5 stars out of 5.
zoo entrance
visitor center
American bisons
"The Zoo in a Yard" exhibit
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
HuBison HuBison
417 reviews
A free zoo! What! Jul 11, 2010
I'm so tickled to come from NY where they seem to pay an arm and a leg to go to the zoo, but here in DC, it's freee!

It's metro accessible, if you can walk another 3 or 4 blocks to get to the main entrance. If you can't, don't even bother going to the zoo. It requires lots of walking and is quite hilly.

Eventhough the pandas are on their way out, there are still many animals to visit. When it's hot, there are sprinklers to cool you off. While walking around, be sure to look up every once in a while (look out for monkeys!)

You can bring your own lunch or buy food there. Bring water or juice and in general, be sure to prepare yourself as you would for any outdoor day-long event. There are schools and day-care centers and camps full of children swarming around during the warm months, so be careful not to step on anyone's child. In the colder months, people jog through the zoo and it is less populated.

If you're visiting DC, this is another free thing to do. When you're done, walk back towards the metro to have lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants they have near Calvert street.
missandrea81 missandr…
147 reviews
Animals, nature and more animals Mar 08, 2007
Since I have moved to the Washington D.C. area a year and a half ago, I've been to the National Zoo four times. I love taking my visitors here because it's just such a great way to spend time outside.

The admission is free like in all other museums and Smithsonian establishments in D.C.. I usually take the car even though the Metro would probably be cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

Parking at the zoo is pricey (ca. $16) but also funds the research centers at the zoo. For example, the National Zoo has made an effort in saving the Gold Lion Tamarin from completely disappearing out of their natural habitat in Brazil. You wouldn't believe they are endangered since there is quiet a lot of them at the National Zoo.

If you want you can buy the membership (ca. $45) of the Zoo which includes a free parking pass for every time you come visit in within a year. You'll get a free stuffed animal at the gift shop and snacks (animal crackers, go figure) for your little ones.

Of course there are plenty of other animals too. I guess a highlight would be the Panda "baby". Just read today that Panda mama is pregnant again. So I guess they won't run out of babies any time soon. Also they keep adding to the Zoo. Right now they are working on improving the habitat for the elephants and hippos. Newly opened is the Asian trail, where you will find the cute panda baby and lots of other cheeky animals. Enjoy!

For more information go to
The endangered Gold Lion Tamarin
jennjeff1 says:
We've only been there once or twice but it is a very good zoo in DC! ~Jeff (and Jenny)
Posted on: Jun 23, 2008
missandrea81 says:
I've been there 4 (!) times in the last 2 years... I can't believe it myself. ;)
Posted on: Jun 20, 2008
marksreynolds says:
I haven't been there in so long...time to go back :)
Posted on: Jun 19, 2008
Litla Litla
4 reviews
Jul 27, 2004
My second trip to Washington included a trip to the National Zoo!

This zoo is really beautiful. It is kept very natural: flowers and plants everywhere! Admission is free and you really get to see many many animals.

Some of the highlights: giant panda bears, elephants, all kinds of monkeys, zebras, turtles and even crocodiles.

There are different areas, which represent the animals' habitats.

On very hot days the trees will spend shadow and there's shower-like areas, where mist is sprayed on the people passing by.

A visit to the Zoo's website is good for planing in advance. There are also webcams, so you can see the animals without leaving your home.
Entrance to the National ZOO

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