20 Best Zoos in the US to Visit and Worst Aquariums You Should Not

 – Best zoos in the US –

In the US, you can choose from a variety of animal-focused attractions such as zoos and aquariums. Also, in fact, a zoo can be found in almost every major city in the United States, but that doesn’t imply they’re all the same.best zoos in the US

We’ve compiled a list of the top zoos to visit in the United States, which have amassed incredible collections of animals from all over the world in order to commemorate and conserve the world’s wildlife.

You’ll also uncover the top aquariums to visit in the United States, as well as the worst zoos in the country. Continue reading to learn more.

20 Best Zoos in the US

  1. Alaska Zoo

Since Alaska is known for its nature and wildlife, it makes sense that it has a big institution like the Alaska Zoo to show its native wildlife.

The Alaska Zoo, which opened in 1969 and has been the state’s only zoo since then, is located in Anchorage.

Interestingly, the zoo began with a baby, despite the fact that it now houses numerous native Alaskan creatures such as the Canadian lynx and polar bear. The elephant in the game was won by the local grocer.

Many non-native animals, such as snow leopards and Tibetan yaks, can be found among the Alaska Zoo’s around 100 animals.

  1. Bear Country USA

Bear Country USA Wildlife Park offers a different experience. The uniqueness of this place in Rapid City, South Dakota, is that it is a safari park that is accessible from the car where you have the opportunity to see creatures in your car.

best zoos in the US

On the way to Mount Rushmore, this is a popular pit stop. You’ll get up close and personal with wolves, bears, and other native North American wildlife as you weave through 200 acres of woodland and grassland.

The 4,444 visitors took a three-mile journey around the park, passing past various barriers and getting up close and personal with park residents.

  1. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo can easily lay claim to the title of the largest zoo in the United States. That is if its whole land area and the number of species are taken into account.

The Riverview Park Zoo, which opened in 1894, is now the Nebraska Zoo. It is 130 acres in size and home to over 900 distinct species. Henry Dolly Zoo has established itself as a leader in wildlife conservation and study over the years.

You’ll be able to view rhinos, tigers, lions, and elephants at this popular zoo, and you’ll get up and personal with sharks and turtles at the on-site aquarium.

Omaha Zoo Hours


9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every day | Buildings are open till 6 p.m.


Daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Buildings open until 5 p.m.

Except on Christmas Day, the restaurant is open all year.

Please call (402) 733-8401 during poor weather.


  1. Denver Zoo

What began as a gift has now become a necessity. The Denver Zoo, a pioneering institution in Colorado, was founded in 1896 after an American black bear was donated to the mayor of Denver.

Also, the Denver Zoo was the first zoo in the United States to incorporate natural habitats into its exhibits in order to promote animal welfare. Since then, the zoo has worked hard to expand its conservation activities beyond animal populations, launching a four-continent worldwide conservation plan.

The Denver Zoo’s 4,444 visitors contributed to these efforts, and they may see over 3,500 animals representing over 400 species.

Additionally, the zoo’s bear population is still well-known, but it’s also noted for its Siberian tigers, Asian elephants, and unique Stingray Bay exhibits.

  1. Houston Zoo

In a big town like Houston, it’s no wonder the Houston Zoo is worth discussing. The Houston Zoo is positioned in central Texas, covers 55 acres, and is the most straightforward place to get to when visiting the city. 

It houses about 6,000 animals representing 900 different species from all over the world. The Houston Zoo can accommodate your needs, whether you want to view African gorillas and zebras, South American anteaters, or Texas fauna.

It also offers excellent animal contact opportunities, including close encounters with elephants, okapi, and Galapagos tortoises. 

  1. Fort Worth Zoo

In Texas, you will find many great zoos, but the Fort Worth Zoo is arguably the state’s contribution to the best zoo in the United States.

When the Fort Worth Zoo first opened in 1909, its selection of animals was very limited, but it has developed rapidly since then and now has 7,000 animals of more than 540 species.

The two most popular exhibits are the 2.5-acre World of Primate Exhibit, where you can see all four species of apes, and the Museum of Living Art (MOLA), where many endangered reptiles and amphibians are home to the animals.

  1. Oakland Zoo

To see the diverse California native animals at one of the best zoos in the United States, simply visit the Oakland Zoo.

Recently, the Oakland Zoo launched a new trail exhibit in California, highlighting native species such as grizzly bears, gray wolves, and bison.

best zoos in the US

But there are other exhibits and facilities on Auckland Zoo’s 100 acres, including a world-class veterinary hospital and a large butterfly garden.

Auckland Zoo is now home to more than 700 local and exotic animals, such as sun bears, reticulated giraffes, and baboons.

Although now located in Knowland Park in Oakland Hills, the zoo was originally located in downtown Oakland when it was first established in 1922.

  1. Zoo Miami

Among the countless zoos in the country, the Miami Zoo is the only zoo subtropical. The continental United States. If this isn’t enough to make Zoo Miami special enough, it also happens to be the biggest and best zoo in Florida.

best zoos in the US

This is officially called the Miami-Dade Gardens and Zoo, which opened in 1948 and then moved to its current location in 1980.

The important reason why the Miami Zoo has a subtropical climate is that it provides a naturally warm environment. Also, the humid environment of zoo animals native to Asia, Australia, and Africa.

These animals include exotic species such as Malayan tapirs, Komodo dragons, and pine kangaroos, as well as ancient darlings such as gorillas and lions.

  1. Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo dubbed the “nation’s first zoo,” is a well-loved institution that is definitely one of the best zoos in the United States. This recognition is owed in part to the fact that it is one of the country’s oldest zoos.

The Philadelphia Zoo first opened its doors in 1874, although it was not officially chartered until 1859, just before the Civil War, making it the first zoo in the United States.

This zoo’s history isn’t the only thing that makes it noteworthy; among its almost 1,300 animals are numerous endangered species. There are black and white ruffled lemurs, Amur tigers, and gigantic otters on the park’s 42 acres.

  1. Saint Louis Zoo

It’s difficult to conceive why you wouldn’t visit the Saint Louis Zoo in Missouri, especially since the entrance is free. This zoo, which is located in Forest Park in the city’s west, is likewise one of the best in the country.

best zoos in the US

The Saint Louis Zoo, originally known as the Saint Louis Zoological Park, is free to the public because of government funding. This means that anyone can come to see the zoo’s 13,000 animals representing 555 different species.

Red pandas, polar bears, two-toed sloths, puffins, and various reptiles and amphibians are among the zoo’s exhibits. 

  1. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs is another zoo in the state of Colorado. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the tallest zoo in the United States, with a height of 6,800 feet above sea level.

This zoo, which was founded in 1926 by philanthropist Spencer Penrose as a home for his personal collection of exotic animals, has grown to house 800 animals representing more than 200 species.

Over 30 of those species, including black rhinoceroses and lar gibbons, are endangered.

Visitors can also take the Mountaineer Sky Ride ski lift, which passes over the grizzly bear and Amur tiger enclosures, for a fresh viewpoint on the animals.

  1. Bronx Zoo

There are many impressive zoos in New York, but Bronx Zoo is without a doubt one of the best.

The zoo is located near the Bronx River in Bronx Park and comprises 265 acres, making it one of the country’s largest metropolitan zoos.

When the Bronx Zoo originally opened in 1899, it started a long-standing tradition of animal health and conservation by opening the first modern zoo animal hospital in 1916.

Also, when you visit today, you’ll be able to witness approximately 6,000 animals from 700 different species, ranging from big cats like tigers, lions, and gorillas to tiny animals like lemurs and reptiles.

  1. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is located in Columbus, Ohio.

Whether or not Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is the best zoo in Ohio, its 580 acres of land make it one of the largest zoos in the country.

This non-profit zoo, located north of Columbus in Liberty Township, first opened its doors in 1927, but it has since expanded to include its own 18-hole golf course.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s expansive grounds are organized into eight exhibit groups, each representing a different geographical region of the world.

This means that among the 7,000+ creatures representing over 800 species, you can witness everything from leopards and bobcats to penguins and kangaroos.

  1. San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

The legendary San Diego Zoo is easily the best zoo in California, if not the globe. San Diego Zoo, which opened in 1916 in Balboa Park, has become a major tourist attraction in the city and is the most visited zoo in the United States.

One of the reasons for the zoo’s enormous popularity is its incredible diversity, which includes over 3,500 creatures from 650 different species.

The zoo is divided into eight displays to maintain its diverse wildlife population, each having its own geography or habitat.

Also, the Outback exhibit, which features Australian animals such as koalas and Tasmanian devils, has become one of San Diego Zoo’s most popular exhibits in recent years.

  1. Brevard Zoo

The Brevard Zoo in Florida is one of the top zoos on the east coast of the United States. Brevard Zoo, which is located in Melbourne, focuses on interaction and creative techniques to connect with the animals.

best zoos in the US

On this 75-acre farm with Florida landscapes, over 900 animals representing over 195 species live.

Animals from all over the world can be found here, but there are also native Florida animals such as the Florida black bear and the American alligator.

Kayak tours and zip-lining are among the activities available at the Brevard Zoo, as are hand-feeding giraffes and wandering with kangaroos.


  1. Woodland Park Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle is another wonderful American zoo worth mentioning, with a long history of wildlife conservation.

Also, the Woodland Park Zoo, founded in 1899, is located in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood.

best zoos in the US

The zoo’s exhibits are divided into bioclimatic zones, however, there are around 900 animals representing 250 or more species spread across its 92 acres.

This means you’ll have to visit a variety of exhibits to see the zoo’s most amazing animals, such as the snow leopard, flying fox, and hippopotamus.

Additionally, the Woodland Park Zoo conducts an annual Brew at the Zoo event, which includes beer sampling from various local breweries.

  1. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is one of the largest zoos in the United States, with a total area of 1,800 acres.

Also, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, near Palm Springs, California, has been showcasing desert flora and fauna since 1970.

A large portion of the zoo’s grounds has been left in their natural state, offering a home for approximately 450 animals.

The zoo’s animals come from all over the world, including Australian wallabies, Mexican wolves from North America, and African and Iranian cheetahs.

Visitors can interact with animals, feed the giraffes, and enjoy nature and hiking paths in addition to visiting animal exhibitions.

  1. Brookfield Zoo

When planning a trip to Chicago, visitors should remember to include Brookfield Zoo in their itinerary. The Chicago Zoological Park, as it is officially known, is a 216-acre zoo in Brookfield, Illinois, that is yet conveniently accessible from downtown.

Brookfield Zoo, which was built in 1934, was the first to use moats and ditches as enclosures instead of cages. The Chicago Zoological Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to animal health and care, manages the zoo.

While you can view orangutans, pangolins, and pygmy hippos here, the Brookfield Zoo also has an Animal Ambassador Program that allows visitors to get up and personalize with some species.

  1. Lion Country Safari

The Lion Country Safari in Florida is proof that drive-through animal parks are rare but not unique in the United States. This safari park, located inland of West Palm Beach, encompasses over 600 acres with natural habitats for its fauna.

On a four-mile trip through seven different portions of specific bioclimatic regions, guests may discover Lion Country Safari from the luxury of their car.

Also, on the drive, you’ll see creatures like giraffes, African lions, and kudu, but there’s also a walk-through safari with birds, reptiles, and largely smaller mammals.

At Lion Country Safari, there’s also an amusement park with a petting zoo and a water park with slides and other family-friendly activities.

  1. Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo is a proud Tennessee monument, having been established for well over a century. Memphis Zoo has been located in Overton Park in Midtown Memphis since 1906 and covers approximately 76 acres.

The zoo is divided into three zones, each with 19 exhibits that need a 2-mile walk to complete. Additionally, the Memphis Zoo is home to about 3,500 animals from over 500 different species across the world.

While the zoo’s giant panda exhibit is one of its most popular, don’t miss the Zambezi River Hippo Camp’s hippos and Nile crocodiles, or Cat Country’s jaguars and capybara.

Top 10 Worst Aquariums and Zoos in the USA

1. Natural Bridge Zoo

The Natural Bridge Zoo has remained on the list of worst zoos for elephants for the past seven years. Also, the roadside zoo has nearly 150 Animal Welfare Act infractions on its record.

Asha, the resident elephant, gives hundreds of guests rides each year and faces physical injury if she does not obey.

Other animals, such as the macaque shown above, are said to have been neglected with untreated injuries for weeks.

2. Monterey Zoo

The Monterey Zoo is advertised as a “retirement home” for elephants, although this is not the case. This is why Monterey Zoo is regarded as one of the worst in the United States.

best zoos in the US

Their elephants have died on average at the age of 22, which is quite young. They died of sickness brought on by the horrible conditions in which they were kept, not from old age.

3. Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo is accredited, yet it has chosen to reject extensively published research on elephant care. Happy and Patty, their Asian elephants, live in seclusion.

This flies in the face of every modern elephant welfare norm.

4. Hogle Zoo

Elephants aren’t supposed to be solitary creatures. Christie and Zuri, a mother-daughter duo, are kept alone in Hogle Zoo, which is less than the bare minimum of three.

best zoos in the US

The elephants should be housed in a considerably larger social group in the ideal situation. It’s not the worst zoo in the world, but it’s certainly not the best.

5. Seneca Park Zoo

Elephants are only found in hot climates. They can withstand the cold for a short time, but they’re not designed for the frigid winters of New York.

best zoos in the US

Because of the cold, some elephants at Seneca Park have developed ailments, including severe, excruciating arthritis.

One elephant died prematurely as a result of this because she could no longer tolerate standing up.

6. Pittsburgh Zoo

Concrete flooring is well-known in the realm of wild animal care as being hazardous to elephants. Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Zoo does not appear to be concerned.

Elephants are still kept in confined enclosures with concrete flooring, resulting in chronic discomfort and physical limitations.

7. Memphis Zoo

To begin, the Memphis Zoo has shady ties to circuses. Before “retiring” at the zoo, the elephants under their “care” had been subjected to maltreatment in circus acts.

best zoos in the US

Memphis Zoo, one of the worst zoos in the country, brags about having the oldest African elephant in North America, yet it ignores the fact that elephants live much longer in the wild.

8. Myrtle Beach Safari

The Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness” was all over the internet during the start of the 2020 epidemic. One of the zoos discussed in the show is this one.

worst zoos in US

Bubbles, an African elephant, is also housed in isolation, as the series concentrated on the large cats there. Bhavagan Antle, the zoo’s owner, claims to have rescued Bubbles.

In actuality, he trafficked her in the 1980s, firmly cementing its place on the list of worst zoos, if you can call it that.


Best Aquarium in the USA

  1. Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta, Georgia)

As the largest aquarium in the world, the Georgia Aquarium invites visitors to come face to face with sharks, rays, dolphins, penguins, sea lions, seals, and beluga whales!

aquariums in US

This iconic Atlanta institution promises special treats for young children too – the chance to wade in a swimming pool filled with slippery marine life, tell stories, do crafts, and play with characters in period costumes.

  1. National Aquarium (Baltimore, Maryland)

The National Aquarium is home to nearly 20,000 small animals, enough to attract animal lovers of all ages. There is an Indo-Pacific coral reef habitat full of blacktip reef sharks and colorful fish.

best zoos in the US

Also, the ring-shaped, 225-gallon Shark Alley exhibit allows visitors to get up close and personal with toothy predators. (Don’t spot the great white sharks until you leave.)

  1. Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey Bay, California)

Located on historic Cannery Street, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is an education and conservation superstar with more than 500 different species of fish Marine life.

In the interactive paddling zone, children can play on the water bed, explore the enchanting algae forest and watch the penguins feed. (Parents are sure to have fun, too.)

  1. New England Aquarium (Boston, Massachusetts)

Planning a family getaway to Beantown? Go straight to the New England Aquarium.

aquariums in US

This huge ocean center in Boston Harbor has interactive exhibits (Shark and Ray touch pools are must-sees), a huge IMAX 3D cinema, and a whale watching tour in partnership with the Boston Harbor City Cruise from Central Wharf.

  1. Oregon Coast Aquarium (Newport, Oregon)

What’s So Interesting about the Oregon Coast Aquarium? Well, it depends on how many hours you have free.

best zoos in the US

Return to prehistoric times at Cruisin ‘the Fossil Coastline, watch sea lions and seals soar in the water, try to spot the elusive giant Pacific octopus, and learn about the annual migration of Coho salmon.

  1. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, Illinois)

The highlight of the Shedd Aquarium is the huge Great Lakes exhibit, which features some of the area’s most notorious native species.

It also gives visitors the chance to encounter the sturgeon – a scaleless fish that dates back to the dinosaur era – and get a close look at the tusk lamprey (if you dare, please google it).

  1. Seattle Aquarium (Seattle, Washington)

With an emphasis on protecting and improving the health of Puget Sound, Seattle Aquarium is a family getaway for you to enjoy.

best zoos in the US

It is rich in native marine life, from tidal pool creatures such as hermit crabs and deep-buried split-nose fish to birds that nest on the rocky shores of the Pacific Northwest, which of course does no harm.

  1. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (New Orleans, Louisiana)

The Audubon Aquarium in the Americas, located on the outskirts of the French Quarter of New Orleans, shows its southern roots with fascinating marine life exhibitions of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River.

There is also a Geaux fish screen that highlights the Louisiana fishing industry. This great favorite also protects the species in danger of extinction, such as African penguins and rare white alligators.

  1. Mystic Aquarium (Mystic, Connecticut)

The Mystic Aquarium has the largest Beluga habitation in the United States. How beautiful is Beluyoga in the area of the Underwater view of the Arctic coast? 

Why not delve deeper into the world of northern fur seals and Steller sea lions, or allow kids to safely engage with non-threatening sharks at the touch habitat, if stretching among majestic whales isn’t enough of a selling point?

  1. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (Powell, Ohio)

One of the best zoos in the United States, the Columbus Zoo and the aquarium at the colon zoo and the aquarium, simply have a lot of cute creatures of the earth.

The various bodies of water on banks and aquariums host an incredible assortment of marine life. Meet your friendly managers, take the kids to play sea urchins and Peep Tudulehapeed Zebra Sharks.


  1. The Florida Aquarium (Tampa, Florida)

Florida Aquarium is the perfect place for exploration under people. Jammed with aquatic animals of marine ecosystems around the state of the sun and beyond.

aquariums in US

Conservation initiatives focus on local sea turtles, coral, and shark populations. Want to see majestic aquatic mammals in nature? Hop aboard the Bahía II spirit of a 75-minute dolphin cruise led by naturalistic guides.

  1. New York Aquarium (Brooklyn, New York)

We hope that its great Apple itinerary has space for more attractions because the New York Aquarium should not be lost. 

Wait for exciting shows to the balance, rides, nutrients, wild encounters, and the Installation of Fan-favorite exhibition, which focuses on very bizarre guests, such as moon ice creams, moon worms, zombie worms, and octopus Of the Pacific very intelligent.

  1. Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga, Tennessee)

Did you know that the Otters of the North America river use special flaps to stay underwater for up to eight minutes in a single breath?

aquariums in US

What about the unique module, tiger sand sharks are reproduced (suggestion: involves intrauterine cannuting)? These are the kind of deeply fascinating facts that you will learn about the Tennessee Aquarium in the center of Chattanooga.

  1. Maui Ocean Center (Wailuku, Hawaii)

There are so many great things to do in Hawaii.  If you have raved the mysteries of deep and marine conservation, the center of the Ocean Center De Maui deserves a place on that list.

aquariums in US

It is a fantastic place to glimpse the endemic seals of Hawaiian monks and green sea turtles. The Ocean Aloha program teaches parents and children the importance of taking care of the ecosystem under the tides.

  1. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)

It is possible that it cannot anticipate that the fascinating town of Gatlinburg Tennessee will have a true home aquatic center, but surprises … it does!

aquariums in US

The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies offers guests a seat front in the submarine world with boat adventures with Glassbottomed, as well as numerous fish galleries.

Young people will be particularly tested by the touch intelligently called touch to Ray Bay and the pictorial experience of Penguin.

We hope that you loved this article and that it was quite helpful to you. If you have any questions or suggestions, please do well to leave a comment and also, share this article with your friends. 

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