If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity in NYC, there’s nothing better than a day at the zoo. Especially with spring around the corner and the weather starting to get nice, there’s never been a better time to spot some giraffes, sea lions, exotic fish, and everything in between. Although the Bronx Zoo often gets the most national attention, there is a zoo in each of the five boroughs, so no matter where you live, you can find an attraction that suits your interest! Here’s a closer look at some of the best zoos in NYC and their incredible exhibitions and experiences.
1. Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is arguably the most famous zoo in NYC and welcomes over 2 million visitors annually. It’s the largest urban zoo in America and one of the largest in the country by sheer size. The 265-acre park is home to over 4,000 animals of more than 700 species. It first opened in 1899 and became world-famous for its diverse collection of animals and its informative exhibits.
Some of their most popular attractions include the Bug Carousel, JungleWorld, Nature Trek, and Congo Gorilla Forest, alongside interactive experiences like sea lion and penguin feedings, a tree-top aerial ropes course, and more!
Bug Carousel, JungleWorld, Nature Trek, and Congo Gorilla ForestBuy your tickets to the Bronx Zoo here!
Where: 2300 Southern Blvd, Bronx
2. Central Park Zoo
The Central Park Zoo is a 6.5-acre zoo located on the southeast corner of Central Park. The Central Park Zoo features an impressive collection of animals and a manageable sized area for those with small children. Visitors will find fascinating exhibits on snow leopards, grizzly bears, and sea lions, among others. The facility also offers penguin and sea lion feedings and a 4-D theater with exhibits on wildlife that feature built-in sensory effects.
Plus, it’s great location in Central Park makes it easy to access other attractions like the Wollman Rink, the Balto statue, and everything else the Upper East Side has to offer!Buy your tickets to the Central Park Zoo here!
Where: End of E 64th St
3. Prospect Park Zoo
Located in Brooklyn, The Prospect Park Zoo and its 12-acre facility features more than 125 species of animals and family-friendly exhibits that are perfect for kids of all ages. Check out fun exhibits like the Sea Lion Court, where you can observe these majestic mammals in their true element or the The Hall of Animals, which showcases some of the smallest, yet most exciting animals in the zoo, such as the poison dart frog or fennec fox. Or maybe even end your trip with The Discovery Trail, a walkthrough of everything from red pandas to dingos.
While you’re in the area, be sure to check out other attractions too like the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Museum!
Where: 450 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn
4. Queens Zoo
The Queens Zoo is an 18-acre zoo located in the heart of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. At this zoo, you’ll find exhibits on over 75 species of animals from all over the Americas, including Andean bears on the “Wild Side” and scarlet macaws in the “Aviary.” They also host interactive exhibits like the sea lion feedings, and even summer camp programs for kids.
After visiting the zoo, you can also check out all the other fun attractions in the area. Swing by the New York Hall of Science for over 450 interactive exhibits on science and technology, or checkout a Mets game at nearby Citi Field.
Where: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
5. Staten Island Zoo
Situated in the West Brighton neighborhood of Staten Island is the Staten Island Zoo, one of the few zoos not managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Instead, its run by the Staten Island Zoological Society and been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums since 1988.
Originally, the Staten Island Zoo’s claim to fame was its impressive reptile exhibit (and it still features one of the most extensive rattlesnake collections in North America). But over the years, it expanded its animal roster to include exotic species ranging from spider monkeys to capybara.
Where: 614 Broadway, Staten Island
6. The Bergen County Zoo at Van Saun County Park
Although located out of NYC technically, Van Saun County Park in Paramus, New Jersey is an absolute must-hit. The park itself also features multiple hiking trails, tennis courts, a picnic area, a playground, and a carousel alongside the fully-operational zoo. It offers many family-friendly activities, such as pony rides, a miniature train, a carousel, and an amphitheater hosting live animal shows. Some of their most popular exhibits feature animals like mountain lions, prairie dogs, and honeybees.
Where: 216 Forrest Ave, Paramus, NJ
7. New York Aquarium
The New York Aquarium is the oldest continually running aquarium in the United States. While not a full zoo, the aquarium features fantastic exhibits on aquatic fish and other sea creatures. We suggest going in the summer since it’s right near the beach in Coney Island, but you can go any time of the year!
As for their exhibits, they have sting rays, sharks, jellyfish, sea otters, octopuses, a large fish collection, and a whole lot more. You can spend hours bouncing around their exhibits, like Spineless, Ocean Wonders: Sharks, and more. It’s definitely worth the train ride!
Where: 602 Surf Ave, Brooklyn