Tucked into the southwestern corner of Fairmount Park is the Philadelphia Zoo, which features 42 landscaped acres housing more than 340 different species. It’s a cant-miss Philadelphia attraction, especially for families. Here are our tips for making the most of your day at the zoo:
Getting there: If you’re staying downtown, your best bet is to skip the parking garage and take the PHLASH bus, which makes stops throughout center city. PHLASH is just $2 per single ride and seniors and children (4 and under) ride free. If you’re staying outside the city, there are multiple parking garages available along Girard Avenue and 34th Street. Parking in a zoo garage will cost $16.
What to see: There are more than 1,300 animals at the Philadelphia zoo, and no shortage of awesome experiences. Some of our favorites?
- Big Cat Crossing – The zoo features three elevated, enclosed trails that allow some of the their star animals to explore outside their usual enclosures. You’ll see monkeys and apes cross over your head in two of these enclosures, but the showstopper is Big Cat Crossing. There you’ll see full grown tigers lounging above and crossing overhead on their way around the zoo.
- Elegant Swan Boats – Escape from dry land with a swan boat ride around Bird Lake. Each boat fits 2-3 passengers and is $6 per person. Check out the view of Zoo 360 from the southern end of the lake.
- Meerkat Maze – This exhibit is another of the zoo’s groundbreaking, immersive experiences. This winding maze of paths and lookouts is home to hilarious meerkats playing, exploring, and keeping an eye on the crowd. Alongside it is a parallel maze allowing kids to see the meerkats up close, climbing and playing beside them.
Go deeper: Older kids can learn more about many of the animals throughout the zoo by exploring the Creatures of Habitat and ZooKeys installations. Explore 12 amazing life-size animal sculptures made with LEGO® bricks located throughout the zoo. Sculptures include an African Lion, Polar Bear, Chameleon, and more. While visiting Creatures of Habitat, guests can use the famous ZOO KEY at audio books located at each sculpture. There, they’ll hear secrets and behind the scene stories about each animal as told by the zookeepers who care for them. Check out the full list of sculptures at the Creatures of Habitat site.
Where to eat: Snacks and packed meals are allowed into the zoo, so save time and money by packing a bag and enjoying lunch at one of the picnic areas on the grounds (remember, no alcohol allowed). There are also a wide variety of dining options onsite, from burgers and fries, to tacos, to craft beer options. No matter what your taste, you won’t go hungry.
The Philadelphia Zoo is open year-round–visit their site to learn more, as hours and fees vary by season.
Header image by M. Edlow for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®