Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Plan Your Visit

The National Zoo covers 163 acres and it takes several hours to see all of our animals and exhibits. Plan ahead and your visit will be a memorable one.

Planning to Visit in the Spring?

Washington Monument (Potomac Riverbank),  Name: Kawase, Hasui,  Date: 1930s

The Zoo is a popular destination and crowds are large in April and May. Parking is limited; parking lots fill up by 10:30 a.m. this time of year. Take the Metro via the Red Line and exit at either the Woodley Park or Cleveland Park stations.

All animal exhibits and most concessions are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Visitors can park and enter the grounds beginning at 8:30 a.m. The Visitor Center and Panda Plaza open at 9 a.m. daily. Zoo Hours

Reserve your Parking

We have partnered with Parking Panda, the nationwide leader in online parking reservations, to offer the ability to purchase guaranteed parking passes at several parking locations within easy walking distance to the Zoo.

Once purchased, parking passes are emailed instantly and guarantee you access to your selected location. Parking is very limited and locations fill up, so we strongly recommend that you reserve your 100% guaranteed parking space now if driving!

Please note: You will leave the Smithsonian National Zoo website when you click the links above. Parking Panda is a third-party contractor.

Review the Zoo Map

Zoo Map

Explore the Zoo map and plot your route through the Zoo so you don’t miss anything. Choose a meeting place in case someone gets separated from the group.

Check the Calendar

See what programs are going on the day of your visit. Be sure to stay for one of the keeper talks, animal feedings, or other educational activities. Also check out our upcoming special events, and find out if your visit coincides with an early closing.

Dress for the Weather and Terrain

Wear comfortable shoes and clothing as the Zoo is set on hilly terrain and some paths are steep. Wheelchairs and strollers are available.

New Exhibits

American Bison

In celebration of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park’s 125th Anniversary, we are proud to bring back the American bison—the animal that inspired the founding of our Zoo and helped spark the conservation movement. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo started in 1887 as an exhibit on the National Mall behind the Castle featuring American bison and a handful of species native to North America. Two years later on March 2, 1889, Congress passed an act establishing the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. dedicated to “the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people.” Bison play a unique role not only in the Zoo’s history but are an iconic American animal with deep significance to our nation’s history.

Meet Our Animals

Many of our animals are in indoor exhibits, many others, including giant pandas, sloth bears, great cats, seals, and sea lions, are usually outdoors.

The Speedwell Conservation Carousel

Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel

The Zoo's newest exhibit features 58 different species, all coexisting peacefully under a brightly colored, open-air pavilion. This gorgeous, custom-carved carousel features animals on exhibit at the Zoo and also some species which are the focus of Zoo scientists’ research to save them from extinction. The carousel includes beloved endangered species including giant pandas, Komodo dragons, and cheetahs, the attraction will welcome visitors of all ages to Lion/Tiger Hill with delightful animal figures and colorful scenery. Check out the Speedwell Conservation Carousel.

Take a Tour

Learn more about our animals and highlights of the Zoo by taking a private walking tour led by one of our volunteer Zoo Guides. Tours are available for $10 per person and are offered on weekend mornings. To discuss types of tours and scheduling visit our Guided Tours page or call 202.633.3056 or 202.633.3061.

Activity Sheets: Print and Bring to the Zoo

Social Narratives

Resources for individuals with cognitive disabilities