Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Guided Tours

Guided Tours

All tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday at 9:45 a.m. and depart from the National Zoo Visitor Center lobby.

Getting here: We encourage visitors to use Metro to get to the Zoo. Parking is very limited and may not be available after 9:30 a.m. Parking is available for a fee. For more tips on getting to the National Zoo, click here.

To schedule a tour or for questions, contact Lois Phoebus at 202-633-3056 or by email.

Want to get the most out of your trip to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo? Make your Zoo visit even more memorable with a guided tour! Expert guides will offer insight to the animal world with engaging stories, interesting facts and animal observations.

With three different tour options, one is sure to suit your needs and interests. Our tours are offered year-round, are wheelchair accessible, and are guaranteed to be no larger than 10 people per group.

Highlights Tour

The Zoo has so much to offer that it’s nearly impossible to see it all in one day, but our two-hour walking Highlights Tour is a great way to get the best out of the Zoo in a limited period of time. This is the most extensive tour available, covering the largest number of Zoo exhibits.

  • See the Zoo’s most interesting animals—cheetahs, Asian elephants, golden lion tamarins, Aldabra tortoises, lions, and Andean bears—to name just a few!
  • Have a trained guide answer your questions
  • Learn how the Zoo takes care of its animals
  • Hear firsthand how the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is working to save species

Upper Zoo Tour

Want to spend more time learning about animals and less time walking? Join our Upper Zoo walking tour. The two-hour Upper Zoo Tour allows visitors to really get to know the animals in the three exhibits closest to the Visitor Center.

  • Visit the Cheetah Conservation Station and see eight different species of African animals
  • See the brand new Elephant Community Center to learn about our herd of Asian elephants
  • Tour through Asia Trail to learn about Asian small-clawed otters, clouded leopards, and sloth bears

Animal Coverings Tour

Have little zoogoers? Take them on a tour designed especially for them. This experience is best for children age 4 to 7 accompanied by an adult. You’ll spend part of your time in a classroom and part of your time in the Zoo—together about 90 minutes.

  • Children meet in the visitor center for a hands-on session that teaches them the difference between reptiles, birds, and mammals. Children get to handle animal artifacts and listen to a zoo story.
  • After their interactive indoor session (no more than 30 minutes), the group goes out in to the Zoo to explore with their guide (one hour).
  • Visit cheetahs, sloth bears, clouded leopards, and several different species of birds at the Bird House!

Children must be accompanied by an adult.