Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has more than 500 animal species and over 3,000 plant varieties, a 4-D theater and parades. See newborn gorillas or tiger cubs, come face-to-face with rainbow lorikeets, and observe penguins in their natural habitat. The gardens are a popular picnic spot. Children will have fun in the playground, home to domestic animals and a petting area.
Cincinnati Zoo opened in 1875 and some structures from the early days have been preserved. See the Aviary, Monkey House (which is now home to reptiles), and the Elephant House. A captive breeding program for animal conservation started in the 1880s and is still a major focus today. This successful program inspired the nickname “the Sexiest Zoo in America.”
Admire the Malayan tigers and leopards in Cat Canyon. Visit the Africa habitat to watch giraffes, lemurs and flamingos. See nocturnal cats, owls and vampire bats in the indoor Night Hunters exhibit.
Have your camera at the ready at Lorikeet Landing. Rainbow lorikeets sit on your arm as you feed them. Wander through the rainforest enclosure to see colorful toucans, boa constrictors and lazy sloths.
Children have their own zoo where they can climb on a spider’s web, feed the goats and pet llamas. Join the crowds at the Penguin Parade, a daily show. Catch the elephant and polar bear feeding sessions on weekends.
Avid gardeners and those looking for a place to relax will appreciate the zoo’s botanical garden. In spring, tens of thousands of tulips burst into bloom. Summer and autumn are equally colorful. See butterflies and smell the fragrances of chocolate and coffee plants.
The Cincinnati Zoo in Avondale is very affordable, and there’s an extra fee for behind-the-scenes experiences. The zoo is open every day except Christmas Day. It’s a 15-minute drive from downtown and there’s a charge for parking. The No. 1 bus from downtown stops at the zoo.