The National Zoo is a great place to spend the day with family and friends. There is something for everyone. There are hands on activities for the kids, animals galore, and amazing botanical specimens. The National Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian Institution and admission is free.
Be prepared to walk uphill, downhill and all around. Don't forget hats, sunglasses, sunblock and cold drinks. Pack a lunch and eat in the shade of the wisteria pergola on the steps of the sea lion exhibit. Strollers for the little ones will make your visit more enjoyable. In some buildings, strollers must be left outside of the building due to space limitations. It will take about four hours to see the whole zoo.
Bicycles, Skates, or Skateboards are prohibited on all pedestrian walkways at the zoo. Only people in wheelchairs and kids in strollers get to ride around the National Zoo. Smoking is also prohibited in the public areas at the zoo.
What are the admission and parking fees?
Admission to the National Zoo is free. The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Admission is free for all Smithsonian museums in Washington DC.
Parking at the National Zoo is free for FONZ members. Nonmembers must pay a parking fee. For more information, see Parking at the National Zoo.
Can we bring food into the National Zoo?
Yes, the National Zoo is a great place to picnic. Also, you can purchase food inside the Zoo. The meal menus range from burgers, hot dogs, and pizzas to grilled chicken sandwiches, made-to-order subs, and salads, as well as snack foods like Dippin' Dots and frozen treats and hot pretzels.
There are many food vendors throughout the park. There are two large outdoor eating areas: the Panda Plaza (in the upper section of the Zoo) and the Picnic Pavilion (in the lower section). Also, there are many smaller seating areas throughout the Zoo. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Can I get a wheelchair or stroller?
Non-motorized wheelchairs are available from the Visitor Center Information Desk (near Lot A) and the Information Stations at Panda Plaza (Lots A/B) and Lion/Tiger Hill (Lot D). There is no charge for wheelchairs. All Zoo exhibits are wheelchair-accessible. However, be aware that the Zoo is located on hilly terrain in Rock Creek Park.
Visitors can rent a single or double stroller; ask at any information kiosk throughout the park for locations. There is a storage compartment behind the strollers. FONZ members receive a discount on stroller rentals. The member rates are $3 for a single stroller and $4 for a double stroller. The nonmember rate is $9 for a single stroller and $12 for a double stroller.