Step into the Wild: The Best Zoos in the US to Visit in 2023 Destinations | Travel Zone by Best Western

Step into the Wild: The Best Zoos in the US to Visit in 2023

By Stuart Hughes

Searching for a summer getaway that will engage and entertain the children? Look no further than the magnificent zoos located throughout the United States. Book your family trip and join us as we take a tour of the best zoos in the US.

Of course, zoos were traditionally spectacles for royalty and the elite to keep exotic pets. However, nowadays, zoos are pioneering centers for animal conservation and provide a platform to educate families about endangered species and their shrinking natural habitats. Let’s make this summer vacation one that the whole family will never forget as we visit the best zoos in America. 

San Diego Zoo 

San Diego, California 

Where better to start our shortlist of the best zoos in the US than at the world-famous San Diego Zoo? Located in Balboa Park, in the heart of San Diego, California, it has over 4,000 animals, including over 650 species and subspecies. As one of our top zoos in the US to visit, its origins date back to 1916 when it was created to home the exotic animals abandoned after San Diego Panama-California Exposition the previous year. 

Today, San Diego Zoo has an enormous collection of rare and endangered wildlife and is involved in several global projects targeting animal conservation. Fun for all the family, we recommend taking the ‘Crazy About Cats Tours,’ which showcases the zoo’s huge collection of cats of all sizes and the chance to meet a big cat in person. 

Stay at the Best Western San Diego Zoo/SeaWorld Inn & Suites if you are looking for hotels in San Diego, California. 

St. Louis Zoo 

St. Louis, Missouri 

Next on our list of recommendations of the best zoos in the US to visit is the St. Louis Zoo in Missouri. Also known as the Saint Louis Zoological Park, this wildlife center is recognized as one of the best zoos in America and leads the way in animal conservation management and education. 

Free to enter, St. Louis Zoo is home to over 16,000 animals, most of which are endangered species, and hosts insightful family-oriented tours that will keep the children engaged for hours. We strongly recommend that all visitors take the Zooline Railroad’s narrated train tour, which lasts 20 minutes and covers 1.5 miles, passing all the favorite animal exhibits. 

Stay at the Best Western Kirkwood Inn if you are looking for hotels in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Denver Zoo 

Denver, Colorado 

Our next stop sees us in Denver, Colorado, home to the 80-acre non-profit zoological garden known best as Denver Zoo. Established in 1896, Denver Zoo has directly participated in and supported over 600 conservation projects across 62 countries and contributes over $2 million annually to regional and international conservation efforts. For that reason alone, it makes the list of the best zoos in the US to vacation to. 

Denver Zoo is an excellent opportunity for the kids to meet some incredible animals up close and personal. Purpose-built exhibits allow visitors to witness the remarkable predatory habits of the Archerfish and see underwater as the zoo’s resident African Black-footed Penguins zip around their private pool. New exhibits to the zoo include two albino American Alligator siblings, Bruno and Banshee, along with a baby Two-toed Sloth pup. 

Stay at the Vīb Hotel by Best Western Denver RiNo, if you are looking for hotels in Denver, Colorado. 

Turtle Back Zoo  

West Orange, New Jersey 

Every child’s dream is to see a real-life dragon, so we’re heading next to Turtle Back Zoo, one of the best zoos in the US to visit. That’s because Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, New Jersey’s most famous resident, happens to be the world’s largest lizard – the Komodo Dragon.  

Originally opened in 1963 to exhibit animals native to the New York metropolitan area, Turtle Back Zoo is home to an amazing collection of exotic reptiles, including the Green Tree Boa, Thai Bamboo Racer, and the Red-footed Tortoises. As one of the best zoos in America, Turtle Back Zoo has expanded over the years and now hosts several additional themed exhibits, including the South American and African Adventure showcases.  

Stay at the Best Western Plus Fairfield Executive Inn. 

Philadelphia Zoo,  

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

A list of the top zoos in the US would only be complete if it included the oldest zoo in America. First opening its gates to the public on July 1, 1874, the legendary Philadelphia Zoo holds the distinction of being the oldest zoo in America and is widely regarded as a must-see destination. Renowned for its successful conservation and breeding programs, Philadelphia Zoo pioneered the breeding rare and endangered species such as the Andean Condor, Golden Lion Tamarin, and the Red Panda.  

As one of the best zoos in the US, Philadelphia Zoo is best known for its first-in-the-world Zoo360 trails. Because Philadelphia Zoo has built a vast series of interconnected mesh trails that enable tigers, gorillas, and monkeys to roam above the visitor paths, it’s an incredible sight that the entire family will undoubtedly become the highlight of your summer vacation. 

Stay at the Independence Park Hotel, BW Premier Collection, if you are looking for hotels in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

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