Summer 2019 Guide to Beating the Heat at the Zoo

It’s the summer solstice, and though Capital Weather Gang may be forecasting the first cooler-than-normal summer in a decade, visitors to Washington, D.C., can still expect warm weather and humidity. But not to worry — we’ve rounded up a few of the best ways to beat the heat at the Zoo this summer.

1. Meet lifelike dinosaurs in a live theater show

A child places something inside the mouth of a large, lifelike T-rex dinosaur puppet during an onstage production of Erth's Dinos Zoo Live

Need some AC? Love some dinos? During Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live, performers bring realistic dinosaur puppets to life in a thrilling theatrical performance. The 30-minute show takes place in the Zoo Theater — a comfortable, air-conditioned venue inside the Visitor Center — providing the perfect break from the summer heat.

2. Skip through a sprinkler

A series of sprinklers located along the Zoo’s main Olmsted Walk offer a refreshing mist on a hot day. Kids especially love to play in the cool spray of water that’s available at the push of a button.

3. Get sprayed by an orangutan AND a dinosaur

Orangutans Batang and Redd at the Smithsonian's National Zoo's Think tank exhibit.

Swing by the orangutans’ outdoor yard, and you might get splashed again. Their exhibit is fitted with two mister shower heads … but these water features can only be operated by the apes!

Just across from Great Ape House is a water-spitting dilophosaurus, one of the animatronic dinosaurs living at the Zoo this summer.

3. Eat ice-cold ice cream

There’s no shortage of sweet treats to cool down with around the park. Dip n’ Dots is a longtime favorite (don’t miss the “Panda Dots” cookies n’ cream flavor!), but now visitors can also enjoy a scoop of ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s, soft serve from Carvel or gourmet gelato from local sweet shop Dolci Gelati.

4. Take a break from the sun with an indoor exhibit

green and black poison frog
A small herd of cattle grazes in a dry landscape of dirt and grasses under a blue sky with large white clouds. Small trees and more cattle can be seen in the background.
Landscape and Ecosystem Science
A close-up of photo of a mug overflowing with beer with an illustration of a beer mug and dinosaurs and the text "Brew at the Zoo"

Brew at the Zoo, July 18

What better way to beat the heat than with an ice-cold beer? This year, Washington, D.C.’s best beer festival is transforming into a prehistoric party featuring unlimited beer tastings from 70-plus breweries, live music, food trucks and more. Tickets are selling fast, so don’t miss your chance to attend Brew at the Zoo. Can't make it to the event? You can always grab a cold one at the Mane Grill any day of the week.

6. Step underwater into the shade.

California Sea Lion

There’s plenty of shade throughout the Zoo, but one of the most memorable spots to take a break from the summer sun is the underwater viewing area at American Trail. Here, you’ll have a spectacular view of the Zoo’s California sea lions as they glide through the water.