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A first-timer’s guide to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. / March 1, 2017 by Allison / 6 Comments This article may contain sponsored content or affiliate links.

Are you planning a trip to Washington D.C.? The Smithsonian's National Zoo is a great option for families.

We have visited the San Diego Zoo and other major zoos in the U.S., and the National Zoo is on par with the better ones. For my animal-loving son, this was one of the highlights of our Washington D.C. trip and I have to agree that those pandas are awfully cute.

One of the best things about the National Zoo is that there is NO ADMISSION CHARGE. You won't even see a ticket booth. Just walk in!

Here are my tips for making the most of your day at the National Zoo.

A first-timer's guide to the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D.C. | tipsforfamilytrips.com #vacationideas #springbreak #summer #travel #pandas #washingtondc #tipsforfamilytrips

Getting There

Getting to the zoo is easy on Metro. The Smithsonian's National Zoo is located about halfway between the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park-Zoo Metro stops on the Red Line, which are both about half a mile from the zoo entrance. I recommend getting off at Cleveland Park because your walk to the zoo will be slightly downhill instead of slightly uphill. We walked down to the Woodley Park-Zoo station and ate lunch near there afterward.

Limited parking is available at the zoo, but according to the zoo's website, lots often fill by 10:00 AM. I do not recommend renting a car in Washington D.C. because parking will be a hassle nearly everywhere you go.

Like most zoos we've visited, the National Zoo is built on a big hill. If you use Metro to get there, you'll start at the top. Exhibits are located on both sides of one main pedestrian highway.

Related:  3 Days in Washington DC with Kids

Can't Miss Exhibits

One word: PANDAS!

The Smithsonian's National Zoo was the first U.S. zoo to have giant pandas, starting in 1972. The zoo is currently home to three pandas, which can usually be found in either their outdoor or indoor habitats. Expect crowds and lines at the panda habitat, especially during the middle of the day.

The National Zoo is home to all the other showcase animals that most families love to see, including elephants, lions, tigers, cheetahs, great apes and more. My son is crazy for otters, so after the pandas, finding them on the American Trail was a top priority for us. Want to see if your favorite is there? Check out the zoo's Animal Page .

Most of the exhibits are outdoors, but there are several indoor exhibits including the giant pandas, Amazonia, reptile house and others.

Throughout the zoo, we found lots of educational hands-on activities – mostly geared toward children. There is also a carousel.

A first-timer's guide to the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D.C. | tipsforfamilytrips.com | family vacation | spring break | summer travel | pandas

Arrive early

We visited the National Zoo on a Saturday in July. By arriving right at opening time, we missed the worst of the heat and the weekend crowd. In our experience, animals are more active in the morning when temperatures are cooler.

Pack a lunch

You can pack your own lunch or snacks into the National Zoo, and you'll save a lot of money at the concession counter  – and probably eat healthier – if you do. At the very least, I recommend bringing your own water bottles . You'll be glad when it's time to hike back up the hill.

A first-timer's guide to the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D.C. | tipsforfamilytrips.com | family vacation | spring break | summer travel | pandas

Good to Know

Where: 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington D.C. The National Zoo is located in Rock Creek Park near downtown Washington D.C., but not within easy walking distance of the popular monuments and government sites.

When: The National Zoo is open every day of the year except Christmas. Hours vary by season, but everything is usually open by 9 or 10 AM. Check current hours HERE . March-July is peak season. Summers are hot and humid.

How Much: FREE!

How Long: I recommend 2-4 hours to see the whole zoo.

Amenities: Food service, gift shops, restrooms, rentals (wheelchair, scooter, stroller), parking

Website:  www.nationalzoo.si.edu

washington dc zoo tour

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Reader Interactions

December 31, 2020 at 7:47 pm

Native Washingtonian here. Remember although access to the zoo is free, you have to pay for parking ($25, I think). also, 2-4 hours is extremely optimistic estimate to cover the entire zoo. If you’re going to explore the exhibits, I would spend the better part of the day. TBH, I never try to cover the zoo in a whole day.

January 4, 2021 at 11:29 am

Tips from locals are the best! Thank you for your advice. I agree that 2-4 hours is optimistic if you want to explore the zoo in depth. There are so many great things to do in DC that we focused on the pandas and a few other standout exhibits, and skimmed through the rest.

April 29, 2022 at 9:02 am

We have to check out of our hotel, is there a place we can check our bags in st the zoo until we leave?

April 29, 2022 at 11:04 am

I have not been able to find luggage storage on the zoo’s website. However, you can probably leave your bags with your hotel’s front desk if that’s a convenient place to return. Another possibility is to use a luggage storage service like Luggage Hero, Vertoe, Bounce, Stasher, or Radical Storage. They may have locations near the zoo. I have not personally used any of these services (yet).

May 5, 2022 at 3:57 am

Does the zoo have a tour bus

May 5, 2022 at 2:39 pm

The National Zoo does not have a tour bus at this time. There has been a shuttle service with a couple of stops in the past, but according to the website , it’s not running right now. We did not use the shuttle during our visit and had no problems. The National Zoo is built on a hill. We started at the top, so our strategy was to walk all the way down and then slowly work our way back up.

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Smithsonian's national zoo, enjoy thousands of exotic animals.

Enjoy thousands of exotic animals, educational animal demonstrations, the Asia Trail (where our giant pandas live!), and many other exhibits. Open daily except Dec. 25. Call for hours: 202-633-1000. Free admission. Guided tours by appointment; call (202) 633-3025 or (202) 673-4823 (TTY).

  • Motor Coach Parking on site
  • ADA Compliant
  • Free Admission
  • Motor Coach/Bus Parking
  • ADA compliant
  • Non-Profit Organization

Additional Information

Largest capacities.

Banquet capacity: 3000, Classroom capacity: 20, Theatre capacity: 275, Reception capacity: 10000

Distance to Metro

Distance to conv center, min to airport.

Membership Discounts, Voucher Program

Metro Station

Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan

3001 Connecticut Ave. NW Washington , DC 20008 United States

(202) 633-1000.

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National Zoo

Always free of charge and open 364 days a year, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo sits on 163 acres in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park. Founded in 1889, the Zoo is currently home to more than 2,700 animals representing more than 390 species.

Giant pandas, Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers, Aldabra tortoises, Panamanian golden frogs, sea lions, orangutans, meet-a-small-mammal demonstrations, and Asian elephant

Website: https://NationalZoo.si.edu

General visitor information: [email protected]

Disability accommodation requests: [email protected]

Non-visitor information: ???

Street Address: 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008

Nearest Accessible Public Transit: L’Enfant Plaza* SW corner of the Department of Transportation courtyard; D St. SW between 6th & 7th St.

*Please check for service disruptions to MetroRail elevators by visiting WMATA’s Elevator & Escalator Service Status page.

Social Narratives

Intro to Social Narratives.

Smitsonian Castle

What to expect when visiting the Amazonia exhibit.

A small Blue and yellow brested bird on a branch.

Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute

 picture

Price & Hours

  • Facilities 3.5
  • Atmosphere 3.5

More than 1,800 animals reside at the Smithsonian's 163-acre National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, from Asian elephants to cheetahs to sea lions. Look up every now and then as you stroll beneath the Orangutan Transport System (called the O Line): You may spot orangutans swinging along cables between steel towers. Or, if you're more intrigued by animals native to South America, head over to the Amazonia exhibit, home to creatures like titi monkeys and multiple frog species. The Great Cats exhibit features Sumatran tigers and African lions, among other feline predators. The zoo also has a playground and other attractions geared toward kids. If you time your visit for the holidays, swing by the zoo after dark for its ZooLights exhibition, when animal lanterns and lights bedazzle the park.

Recent visitors praised the zoo's pleasant surroundings and broad selection of species. Others warn future travelers to temper expectations: It's popular during the spring and summer seasons and there are long lines for (somewhat overpriced) food. Though some said the zoo could be more exciting and have a broader array of animals, keep in mind the more than 360 species are free to visit.

The easiest (and most affordable) way to reach the Smithsonian's National Zoo – which sits in Woodley Park, a D.C. neighborhood found about 2.5 miles north of downtown – is to take the Metro's Red Line to Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan station or Cleveland Park station. The L1 and L2 buses stop at the main entrance on Connecticut Avenue. Visitors can also drive and park at the zoo, but space is limited and a flat fee of $30 applies. Capital Bikeshare has multiple stations nearby.

The zoo welcomes travelers every day (except Christmas Day) from 8 a.m. to 4 or 6 p.m., depending on the season. Reduced hours may apply for exhibit buildings, shops and food vendors. Admission is free but entry passes are required and must be reserved in advance online .

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More Best Things To Do in Washington, D.C.

washington dc zoo tour

#1 The Tidal Basin

If you've never been to Washington, D.C. before, plan to spend some time along the Tidal Basin, an approximately 107-acre pond encircled by a 2.1-mile loop trail. Constructed to use the strong tides of the Potomac River to clear silt from the Washington Channel and to maintain steady water levels in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pools , it now also serves as the backdrop to some of D.C.'s best-loved sites. Every spring, the Tidal Basin bursts with color as cherry blossom trees (gifted to the city from Tokyo ) bloom into cotton candy-colored tufts, and they attract hordes of visitors. The cherry blossoms typically hit peak bloom (defined as when 70% of the cherry blossoms are open) in March or April. The National Park Service website makes "bloom watch" updates on its website , where you can check the progress of the trees and see when peak bloom is expected for the year. You can follow the path that leads around the basin, but recent visitors recommended testing the waters in a paddleboat. Paddleboats are available to rent from spring until fall for $28 to $40 per hour (depending on the day) for a four-passenger boat. You can pick up a paddle boat on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from the boat dock near Maine Avenue.

Even if you don't make it to town for the cherry blossoms, you won't want to miss the three major memorials that can be found along the Tidal Basin's shores: the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial . A memorial to Virginia Declaration of Rights author George Mason, also stands nearby.

Explore More of Washington, D.C.

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Site Navigation

  • Hours and Locations

Castle tower with clock

Today, Friday, January 19, the following Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., are open: 

  • National Air and Space Museum
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Virginia

All other D.C. museums, including the National Zoo, are closed today. 

Admission is free  of charge at all locations except the  Cooper Hewitt  in New York City. All Washington, D.C.–area museums and the American Indian Museum in New York are  open every day of the year except December 25 . The Cooper Hewitt in New York is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Four locations  require entry tickets or passes  as noted below.

Admission is free of charge at all locations except the Cooper Hewitt in New York City.

All Washington, D.C.–area museums and the American Indian Museum in New York are open every day of the year except December 25 . The Cooper Hewitt in New York is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The following locations require passes or tickets .

  • African American History and Culture Museum (free)
  • Air and Space Museum in D.C. (free)
  • National Zoo (free)
  • Cooper Hewitt in New York City ($)

Passes/tickets are not used at our other locations.

Our Museums, Galleries, and Zoo

Museums, galleries, and zoo search results.

washington dc zoo tour

African American History and Culture Museum

10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday 12 to 5:30 p.m. Monday* *10 a.m. on federal holidays Closed Dec. 25

Free timed-entry passes required

washington dc zoo tour

African Art Museum

10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 25

washington dc zoo tour

Air and Space Museum

10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 25

washington dc zoo tour

Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center

10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 25

washington dc zoo tour

American Art Museum

11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 25

washington dc zoo tour

American History Museum

washington dc zoo tour

American Indian Museum

10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 25

washington dc zoo tour

American Indian Museum New York

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 25

washington dc zoo tour

Anacostia Community Museum

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 25

washington dc zoo tour

Archives of American Art

11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 25

washington dc zoo tour

Arts and Industries Building

Temporarily closed

Cooper Hewitt Museum

Freer Gallery of Art

washington dc zoo tour

10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily Sculpture Garden is closed for revitalization Closed Dec. 25

washington dc zoo tour

National Zoo

8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (Mar. 15–Sept. 15) 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (Sept. 16–Mar. 14) Closed Dec. 25

Free passes required

washington dc zoo tour

Natural History Museum

washington dc zoo tour

Portrait Gallery

washington dc zoo tour

Postal Museum

washington dc zoo tour

Renwick Gallery

washington dc zoo tour

S. Dillon Ripley Center

washington dc zoo tour

Sackler Gallery

washington dc zoo tour

Smithsonian Castle

Closed for renovation

washington dc zoo tour

Smithsonian Gardens

Haupt Garden open daily dawn to dusk except Dec. 25; all other gardens open 24 hours

Not near a Smithsonian museum? Look for exhibitions and affiliate museums in your community.

  • Entry and Guidelines
  • Maps and Floor Plans
  • Dining and Shopping
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Future Museums

Congress established two new museums in 2020. Visit the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum websites to learn more.

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Reserve Your Spot with Confidence! Full Refunds with 24 Hrs Notice. Reschedule at any point, even after tour, if space allows!

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Visiting the Smithsonian National Zoo

How to get there, what animals you can see at the national zoo, how to visit the pandas, and tours of the national zoo..

washington dc zoo tour

The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution so you'll find no admission prices to visit , but tickets are required.

As one of the oldest zoos in the United States, the National Zoo is sure to be a highlight of your visit to Washington, DC, especially for the young and young at heart. Use this post to explore the options at the National Zoo.

  • Directions, Hours & Admission

Exhibits at the National Zoo

Hours & admission.

The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institute and is open every day but Christmas (December 25).

The outdoor parts of the Zoo open earlier and stay open later than the buildings so you can explore many of the outdoor areas before the rest of the Zoo opens.

  • Grounds: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admittance 4 p.m.) | 7 p.m. closing in summer* (last admittance 6 p.m.) (some days during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions the Zoo will close at 3pm.
  • Exhibit Buildings: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. | 6 p.m. closing in summer* (Amazonia opens at 10 a.m. all year)
  • Important Note: There are often changes to what areas of the Zoo are open, especially during inclement weather. If there is a particular animal you want to see, be sure to check their website first for updates.

washington dc zoo tour

How to get National Zoo Tickets

The National Zoo is free , but timed tickets are required.

There are two types of passes:

  • Entrance Passes are required for every person of all ages, even infants. They are free. You can reserve up to 15 at a time.
  • Parking Pass is the only option for parking at the Zoo. You still need to get entrance passes for each person in the car.

Free Entry Passes to the Zoo are not timed. You can enter at any time that day.

If you wish to leave the Zoo and return later that day, you can get a hand stamp at the exits (either the main entrance or pedestrian entrance onto Harvard St NW)

washington dc zoo tour

During certain peak times, the Zoo may set up security tents to enter.

This is usually around Easter but can be done at the zoo's discretion.

TIP FOR LOCALS/FREQUENT VISITORS:

If you plan on parking at the National Zoo at least three times in one year, becoming a Smithsonian National Zoo member is well worth it.

You receive free parking (a certain allotment each year, with additional for special events as the zoo decided), discounts at the shops and at food, early access to reserving special events, and many other extra perks.

How long does it take to walk through the Smithsonian Zoo?

As a local Zoo member, we go multiple times a year and have never been able to spend less than two hours—we even tried to be quick.

There is just a lot to be distracted by at the Zoo!

If you want to see the majority of the habitats, it is best to plan 2-4 hours at the zoo.

If you need some fuel during your stay, the zoo offers food options (pizza, hot dogs, chips), a few vending machines, and carts.

Best Time to Visit the National Zoo ?

The best time to visit the National Zoo is in the morning. With the heat of the afternoon and full bellies from lunch, many animals will be asleep and hidden from view.

You'll also find that cloudy, even slightly rainy days are great for animal watching. The entire facility will be less crowded, and there will be lots of indoor habitats if it starts to rain hard.

The Zoo has a lot of unique events year-round that make it a unique time to visit:

  • Brew at the Zoo (September)
  • Boo at the Zoo (October)
  • Zoolights (December)

The Zoo also often has birthday celebrations for the animals, special keeper talks, and animal demos daily!

washington dc zoo tour

How to get to the National Zoo

The National Zoo's address is 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW.

When adding it to a GPS for driving, make sure it is taking you to the Connecticut Avenue entrance as vehicles are NOT allowed to enter through any other entrance.

How to Get to National Zoo

We highly recommend taking public transportation to the National Zoo.

The National Zoo is in the Woodley Park neighborhood of NW DC, so a bit further afield than most tourist attractions, but it is worth the journey.

Tip on Public Transportation to the National Zoo: There is a Metro Station called "Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan " on the Red Line. However, we recommend taking the Metro one stop further to Cleveland Park.

It is a 10-minute walk from either stop but from Cleveland Park, the walk is downhill instead of uphill from the Woodley Park stop!

Parking at the National Zoo

There is parking at the zoo.

Advanced reservations of $30 (as of May 2024) required per car. You can get a parking pass at the same time you get entry passes. They are DATE SPECIFIC but not time specific.

There are multiple parking lots and your parking pass does not allow you to choose. When you arrive (via the Connecticut Ave NW entrance) they will check your parking pass and direct you to either turn let into Lot A (which is closest to the Visitor Center and the Asia Trail)

Once that is full, you'll be directed to turn right and the first lot is Lot B (closest to the Pandas and Elephants). When that is full they will close it and direct you to the bottom of the Zoo lots. Lots D and E are closest to the Kids Farm.

While there is street parking, it is a residential area and we do not recommend relying on finding a spot.

National Zoo Map

Giant Panda Habitat:

The Pandas are returning in Fall of 2024. Exact date to be determined.

The Giant Pandas at the National Zoo are the most popular exhibit. Two pandas, Bao Li and Qing Bao, will live in the state-of-the-art Giant Panda Habitat.

Bao Li is the grandson of Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, the two Pandas who lived the most recently here in DC and left in 2023.

washington dc zoo tour

The Giant Panda Exhibit has two parts for visitors - an outdoor viewing platform and an indoor exhibit where you can also view the pandas if they are inside.

The inside area also has exhibits about Giant Pandas and the conversation efforts to protect them.

On busy days, the trail through the exhibit is one-way allowing visitors to walk through the outdoor exhibit and then the indoor area.

Expert Tip: Check out the National Zoo Panda Cam to find them before heading over! The Panda Cam offers two cameras so you can watch the Pandas wherever you are.

washington dc zoo tour

You'll also find sloths, red pandas, and Asian elephants nearby on the Asia Trail.

Elephant Trail

The National Zoo is home to 6 Asian Elephants which can be viewed on the Elephant Trail.

Asian Elephants are currently an endangered species and you'll see that they are smaller than African elephants.

washington dc zoo tour

The Kids' Farm

Experience life on the farm with goats, donkeys, hogs, and cows.

Lesson I learned the hard way ... don't call this a petting zoo. You cannot pet the animals!

Great Apes and Primates

You'll find three types of lemurs on an island surrounded by a moat, including the well known ring-tailed lemur. The Zoo is also home to gorillas and orangutans. 

washington dc zoo tour

The orangutans have the ability to travel from one enclosure to the next via the O-line, which from a guest's perspective means they walk right above you!

You can even play tug of war with them in the Think Tank. There is a tall outdoor section to allow gibbons to swing around as they would in the wild.

washington dc zoo tour

The Small Mammal House

A variety of foxes, rats, and smaller monkeys are housed in the Small Mammal House.

The American Trail

Along the American Trail, you'll be able to experience the variety of animals and plant life native to North America.

There are seals and otters , wolves , and bald eagles , among others. There are also two American bison at the American Bison exhibit.

washington dc zoo tour

Lions, Tigers, and ... Cheetahs. (Don't worry, the zoo has bears, too). On Lion and Tiger Hill, you can find African lions and two types of tigers.

Next door is the Cheetah Conservation Station which mimics the Savannah. You'll find cheetahs but also wolves, gazelles, vultures, and more.

washington dc zoo tour

You can walk through this exhibit to experience the flora and fauna found in the Amazon.

There are many corals , frogs , and other aquatic animals , but also sloths and monkeys .

The Reptile Discovery Center

There are over 50 species of reptiles and amphibians in this exhibit. You'll find tortoises , snakes , alligators, and even a Komodo dragon.

Tours of the National Zoo

The National Zoo offers a Zoo Highlights Self Guided Tour on their website.

It starts at the Cheetah Exhibit at the Connecticut Ave NW entrance and ends at the Big Cats exhibit at the bottom of the hill, making the walk downhill.

washington dc zoo tour

For younger visitors, there is an Animal Adventure Guide - my kids love the act it out parts!

washington dc zoo tour

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National Zoo

Washington, DC - national zoo

Sited on 163 wooded acres along the slopes of Rock Creek Park, the 120-year-old Smithsonian National Zoological Park is one of the most scenic zoos in the country.

The park’s lovable giant panda bears — Tian Tian and Mei Xiang — left the zoo in November 2023, but there’s much more to discover among the 2,000 animals and 400 different species represented here.

See, for instance:

  • Orangutans swing from 50-foot-high outdoor towers
  • Sea lions train at 11:15 am daily
  • Two-toed sloths play peek-a-boo in the Amazonia rainforest exhibit
  • Parrots swoop by in an indoor flight room.

There’s plenty here for a full day’s outing.

The Zoo has undergone a lot of improvements. In 2006, a $53 million eco-friendly Asia Trial opened to rave reviews, expanding outdoor habitats for sloth bears, fishing cats, red pandas, clouded leopards, and Asian small-clawed otters. There was a complete renovation of the American Trail exhibit in 2012, completion of the Elephant Trails exhibit in 2013 , and a re-design of the Zoo’s historic Bird House exhibit in 2023.

Admission to the Zoo is Free, but passes are required.

For more, visit  www.nationalzoo.si.edu

Travel Tips

The Zoo has an ample supply of eating options. On top of your typical food stands, the Zoo has restaurants and cafes scattered throughout, serving food from burgers to grilled chicken sandwiches. The Zoo also encourages visitors to picnic. Picnic areas around the Zoo grounds work on a first-come, first-served basis. Be aware that, besides coolers, cooking devices (such as grills) are not allowed on Zoo grounds.

Strollers are available for rent for use at the Zoo. Ask for information at any Zoo kiosk.

Zoo maps are available at the Visitor Center and any information kiosk for a small fee. If you want to carry around a map, but not pay for one, you can print one ahead of time from the Zoo web site .

Special Events

The National Zoo has many special events throughout the year. From Easter Monday egg hunts, to ZooLights in December.

Easter Monday Brew at the Zoo Boo at the Zoo ZooLights

Nearby Attractions W ashington National Cathedral

Suggested Tours Old Town Trolley Tour

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December 16, 2021 at 8:06 am

I have in my possession two very nicely made, black metal, wild animal figures. One is a tiger (approximately 20”x10”)and the other is an elephant (approximately 13”x10”). I estimate their age to be over a hundred years old. They were my grand mother’s, or possibly great grand mother’s. I’m 78 years old. I would like to donate them to the Smithsonian National Zoo., but don’t know how to do that.

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June 18, 2019 at 12:29 pm

If Cleveland Park is downhill when you get there, it will obviously be uphill when you leave the zoo, so Woodley Park would be the stop to take, Especially considering after a day of walking in the zoo, it will be downhill to the Woodley Park stop when you leave, which is a nice break.

June 18, 2019 at 12:34 pm

I suppose arriving at Cleveland and leaving from Woodley would make the most sense. If you’re lazy that is 😀

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June 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm

HOW MUCH IS THE TICKET FOR ADULTS ?

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June 21, 2017 at 10:55 pm

General admission to the Zoo is free.

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November 2, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Even for the vistors not from the D.C. Area?

November 2, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Yes. Admission is free for all visitors.

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November 13, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Does the National Zoo collect leftover pumpkins from area grocery stores for the animals to play with?

November 20, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Contact the National Zoo directly using the following web page: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Contact/

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July 11, 2013 at 4:42 pm

So you dont have to pay to get in you just pay for parking?? Is that how that goes.. I’m just wondering how that works..

July 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm

There is no admission fee to enter the National Zoo. Parking nearby is limited, so the parking lots at the zoo do have a fee. If you do not need your car, you can use Metro and avoid the need for parking.

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Tickets & prices Smithsonian's National Zoo

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Admission prices & discounts for tickets to Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D.C.

Smithsonian's National Zoo

The following overview lists the admission prices and various discounts and discount codes for a visit to Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D.C. . All prices are displayed per age group or reduced rate group. You can also directly book your discounted online ticket for the Smithsonian's National Zoo here, if available, or make a reservation to reserve a timeslot if applicable.

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Wondering what a ticket to Smithsonian's National Zoo costs? These are the prices:

Ticket prices & discounts

Tours & tickets near smithsonian's national zoo.

Here are some tours and tickets near Smithsonian's National Zoo, including discount cards & passes, skip the line tickets and tickets to events & activities in Washington D.C..

   

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More about Smithsonian's National Zoo

Smithsonian's National Zoo

Asian elephants Nhi Linh and her mother Trong Nhi.

Elephant Cam

See the Smithsonian's National Zoo's Asian elephants — Spike, Bozie, Kamala, Swarna, Maharani, Trong Nhi and Nhi Linh — live on camera.

Red panda Chris-Anne eats bamboo in her outdoor habitat.

Now more than ever, we need your support. Make a donation to the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute today!

A mother and her child look at an underwater exhibit with a pinniped (sea lion or seal) swimming in the water

Become a Member

Members are our strongest champions of animal conservation and wildlife research. When you become a member, you also receive exclusive benefits, like special opportunities to meet animals, discounts at Zoo stores and more.

An educator wearing a protective face covering talks to students via video on a phone and points out leaves and trees in the Amazonia exhibit

Education Calendar

Find and register for free programs and webinars.

Two conservation ecologists set up a camera trap at the American Prairie Reserve in Montana

About the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Make a Giant Impact

Virtual Reality Safari

Logo for VR Safari. Silhouetted illustrations of an elephant, gorilla, and leopard appear on the logo image next to the bronze-colored text.

Come face-to-face with wildlife in a stunning live-action virtual reality safari! Strap on VR goggles and experience lush jungles and endless savannahs as you journey across the wilds of Africa. Enter the world of the wild and see elephants, leopards and gorillas in their native habitats from the safety of your VR Transporter. 

General Admission: $12.00 per person 

Payment options include cash, credit card and Apple Pay.

Tickets sold on-site at the VR attraction. 

Conservation Pavilion (next to Mane Grill)

Accessibility

A modified version of the experience is available upon request for visitors who use wheelchairs, have restricted mobility, or who are prone to motion sickness.

Safety Requirements

Passengers must be 42 inches (107 centimeters) tall unless accompanied by an adult. Manufacturers recommend that users be at least 13 years of age. Children younger than 13 who are at least 42 inches tall may ride with consent of a parent or guardian.

Hats and eyeglasses may not be worn while wearing the VR headset.

These rides may make sudden movements from side-to-side and forwards and backwards. All passengers must be able to hold on to the safety bar throughout the ride. Ride is not recommended for expectant mothers and guests with a history of heart conditions, seizure disorders, or abnormal blood pressure, back, neck or shoulder conditions, and/or those who have a fear of enclosed spaces. Ride at your own risk. 

It is recommended that guests with medical devices (including implanted, connected and external) please follow the directions of the device manufacturer or consult their healthcare provider.

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COMMENTS

  1. Visit the Zoo

    Location. Whether taking the Metro, driving or walking, getting to the Zoo is easy! The Zoo's main entrance is located at: 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW. Washington, DC 20011. Note: Bus idling and parking along Connecticut Avenue is not permitted. Book ahead and reserve your Bus Parking Pass or Bus Drop-Off Pass through the group reservation portal.

  2. Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

    Always free of charge, the Smithsonian's National Zoo is one of Washington D.C.'s, and the Smithsonian's, most popular tourist destinations, with more than 2 million visitors from all over the world each year. The Zoo instills a lifelong commitment to conservation through engaging experiences with animals and the people working to save them.

  3. Visiting Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, DC

    Go wild at one of the nation's most popular (and free) zoological parks right here in the nation's capital. It's not all elephants and donkeys in DC. At the National Zoo, visitors can find all sorts of animals that don't subscribe to party lines. Lions, tigers and giraffes are just some of the 1,500-plus animals that call the 163-acre ...

  4. Events

    During peak visitation days at the Zoo, you may be greeted upon entry by one of the security personnel who will conduct a thorough but speedy hand-check of all bags, strollers, briefcases, purses and containers. ... Washington, DC 20008 MAILING ADDRESS. PO Box 96394 Washington, DC 20077-7272 About the Zoo ...

  5. Hours

    Hours. The Zoo is open every day, except Dec. 25. Grounds Open: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; last admittance is at 5 p.m. Exhibit Buildings Open: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (summer) / 4 p.m. (winter) Please note: last admittance to exhibit buildings is 30 minutes before closing. Reserve Passes. Group Passes.

  6. A first-timer's guide to the National Zoo in Washington D.C

    Where: 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington D.C. The National Zoo is located in Rock Creek Park near downtown Washington D.C., but not within easy walking distance of the popular monuments and government sites. When: The National Zoo is open every day of the year except Christmas. Hours vary by season, but everything is usually open by 9 or 10 AM.

  7. Smithsonian's National Zoo

    Enjoy thousands of exotic animals, educational animal demonstrations, the Asia Trail (where our giant pandas live!), and many other exhibits. Open daily except Dec. 25. Call for hours: 202-633-1000. Free admission. Guided tours by appointment; call (202) 633-3025 or (202) 673-4823 (TTY).

  8. Smithsonian's National Zoo Full Tour

    The National Zoological Park, commonly known as the National Zoo, is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution a...

  9. National Zoo

    National Zoo Always free of charge and open 364 days a year, the Smithsonian's National Zoo sits on 163 acres in the heart of Washington, D.C.'s Rock Creek Park. Founded in 1889, the Zoo is currently home to more than 2,700 animals representing more than 390 species.

  10. National Zoo in DC: 6 tips for your visit

    It might not be the biggest or grandest zoo in America, but this zoo definitely packs a punch! Top Tips for Visiting the National Zoo in DC. 1. Don't drive or park at the National Zoo. Regular parking right now costs over $20 per visit. Not only is it expensive but spaces are extremely limited. Even if you are willing to pay, if you show up ...

  11. Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute

    Ultimate Private City Tour of Washington DC - Up to 5 Guests. 26. Recommended. 100% of reviewers gave this product a bubble rating of 4 or higher. Historical Tours. from . ... How much does it cost for Washington DC zoo ? skey1952. BRIDGEWATER 80 contributions. It's free- but getting there or parking costs $ Read all replies. View all.

  12. FAQs About Visiting the Zoo

    Please see the Zoo Hours page for up-to-date seasonal hours and last-admittance times.. The Zoo is open every day, except Dec. 25. If you must leave the Zoo for any reason during your visit and plan to come back, you'll need to have your hand stamped in the Visitor Center near the main Connecticut Avenue entrance or at the Harvard Street pedestrian entry tent at the bottom of the Zoo.

  13. Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute

    Value 5.0. Facilities 3.5. Atmosphere 3.5. How we rank things to do. More than 1,800 animals reside at the Smithsonian's 163-acre National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, from Asian ...

  14. Hours and Locations of Smithsonian Museums and Zoo

    Hours and admission information for the Smithsonian's museums and the Smithsonian's National Zoo. ... The following locations require passes or tickets. African American History and Culture Museum (free) Air and Space Museum in D.C. (free) ... Washington, DCSee on Map. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 25. Learn More. Hirshhorn.

  15. Visiting the Smithsonian National Zoo

    How to get National Zoo Tickets. The National Zoo is free, but timed tickets are required. There are two types of passes: ... I'm a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. I have written for HuffPost Travel and have been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. ...

  16. The National Zoo in Washington DC: The District

    Visitor information for the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Sited on 163 wooded acres along the slopes of Rock Creek Park, the 120-year-old Smithsonian National Zoological Park is one of the most scenic zoos in the country. The park's lovable giant panda bears -- Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and Bao Bao -- usually get top billing, but there's much more to discover among the 2,000 animals and 400 ...

  17. Group Reservation

    Tickets are not available for this event. Please use the calendar to select an available day. ... Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008 MAILING ADDRESS. PO Box 96394 Washington, DC 20077-7272 About the Zoo ...

  18. Webcams

    Webcams. See elephants, lions and naked mole-rats on animal cams streaming live, 24/7 from the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Download Animal Cam Bingo Cards (link opens in new window). These activities are designed to engage learners of all ages in looking closely and thinking deeply about animal behavior and ...

  19. Visiting the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC

    #smithsoniannationalzoo #washingtonDC #smithsonianIn this video, we take you along with us as we visit Smithsonian National Zoo in our nation's capitol, Wash...

  20. Tickets & prices Smithsonian's National Zoo

    Source. The following overview lists the admission prices and various discounts and discount codes for a visit to Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D.C.. All prices are displayed per age group or reduced rate group. You can also directly book your discounted online ticket for the Smithsonian's National Zoo here, if available, or make a ...

  21. Parking & Directions

    Parking & Directions. The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is located in the heart of northwest Washington, D.C. and spans 163 acres. There are two pedestrian entrances and one vehicular entrance. The Zoo offers a limited number of single-vehicle parking spots, which can be booked ahead of your visit.

  22. Washington, D.C. -- Places To Tour -- The National Zoo

    10:00 AM - 4:30 PM. Grounds Hours: May 1 - Sept. 15. 6:00 AM - 8:00 PM. Sept. 16 - April 30. 6:00 AM - 6:00 PM. Lions, and tigers, and bears oh my! And giraffes, hippos, pandas, elephants, and prairie dogs too. The National Zoological Park is located in the northern section of Washington, D.C., approximately twenty minutes from the National ...

  23. Virtual Reality Safari

    Always free of charge, the Smithsonian's National Zoo is one of Washington D.C.'s, and the Smithsonian's, most popular tourist destinations, with more than 2 million visitors from all over the world each year. The Zoo instills a lifelong commitment to conservation through engaging experiences with animals and the people working to save them.