It is hard to believe that such a huge and major zoo does not have an entrance fee. Only in Washington D.C.!
The 163-acre zoo is set on a hill and it takes a good 15-20 minutes to reach the top of the hill-the far end of the zoo. The designers of the zoo were very smart. They placed the Giant Pandas-probably the most popular exhibit-almost at the top of the hill. In order to view the Giant Pandas, one of the last few still in the United States, visitors have to walk all the way into the zoo and not congregate at the entrance or middle.
We didn’t have all that much time to spend at the zoo. Since there was no entrance fee it was still worthwhile for us to visit without lots of time. We headed straight to the Giant Pandas with only short stops to view the few animals we passed on the way.
The two Giant Pandas were just as fascinating as we imagined. They look so cute and cuddly-but we weren’t fooled. They are kept behind a glass wall where visitors watch them play and chomp on bamboo.
The main thoroughfare doesn’t have many animals in view, instead there are themed turn offs where animals are housed based on the theme of the area. There is the American Trail, African Trail, Asian Trail, and Amazonia. These areas house animals native to those places.
With more than 2,100 animals representing almost 400 different species, the Smithsonian Zoo has practically any animal you can imagine and more.
There is a Big Cats area with lions and tigers, the Kids Farm has farm animals for visitors to interact with, The Elephant Trail is where the huge elephants are and the Bird House has Flamingos, Turkey, Cassowary, Duck and many more birds, The Reptile Discovery Center has Turtles, Alligators, Crocodiles and more. Claws and Paws Pathway has the Bobcat, Binturong and Pallas’ Cat. The Primates Exhibit has all types of monkeys and apes.
In addition to all the animals there is also a seasonal splash pad and a playground. There is also a carousel (a fee is charged to ride it.)
I’d love to go back and visit the zoo again since there are so many interesting exhibits we didn’t get to see.
Posted: August 3 , 2023
Information, prices and hours posted here are current as of the posted or updated date. It is advisable to call ahead or check online to confirm hours and prices.
3001 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
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. Ying Blue
The Zoo is open every day, except Dec. 25.
Winter hours begin Sept. 15: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; last admittance at 3 p.m.
Summer hours begin March 15: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; last admittance is at 5 p.m.
Tickets required and should be reserved online.
Parking on site is $25.