Washington, D.C. Sights

Smithsonian National Zoological Park

  • 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW Map It
  • Upper Northwest
  • Zoo/Aquarium
  • Fodor's Choice
  • Panda, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C., USA

    Condor 36 / Shutterstock

Fodor's Review

Carved out of wooded hills in Rock Creek Park, The National Zoo houses 1,800 animals, representing 300 species, in innovative compounds showing animals in their native settings. Step inside the Great Flight Cage to observe the flight of many species of birds; this walk-in aviary is open from May to October. Between 11 am and 2 pm on mild days you can catch the orangutans traveling on the "O Line," a series of cables and towers near the Great Ape House that allows the primates to swing hand over hand about 35 feet over your head.

On the giant panda front, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang have been the zoo's most famous residents since 2000. In 2005 the pandas had their first cub, Tai Shan, who was moved to China in 2010. Bao Bao, born in the late summer of 2013, is currently delighting visitors with her bamboo eating and lounging.

Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoo was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed the

U.S. Capitol grounds and New York's Central Park. Visit early in the morning or late afternoon for your best chance of seeing active animals. Many sleep at midday.Or opt for the rare but enchanting experience of seeing the zoo at night during the annual ZooLights event, starting just after Thanksgiving and lasting until January 1.

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Sight Information


3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, District of Columbia, 20008, USA

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202-673–4800; 202-673–4717

Sight Details:

  • Free
  • Grounds: Apr.–Oct., daily 6 am–8 pm; Nov.–Mar., daily 6–6; visitor center 9–4:30; zoo buildings 10–4:30


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